At age 14 Jim Watkinson’s first music job was as church organist, an occupation he still follows to this day. His first professional orchestra jobs were playing string bass with the Marin Symphony, then with the Oakland Symphony under Gerhard Samuel. When he came to Idaho in 1964 he played bass with the Boise Philharmonic, and accompanied shows at the old Buffalo Club on 9th.
Jim continued his college education at BJC (now BSU) and met Griff Bratt, who introduced him to figured bass, the principal written music for harpsichordists and organists of the baroque period. He played bass and piano for many years with Gib Hochstrasser’s groups.
Wanting to quit the “night life”, Jim went to work at Holsinger Music, rejoined the Boise Philharmonic, and finished his undergraduate work in music composition and theory. After conducting the musical “1776” for Boise Music Week Jim spent a year in Vienna, mostly going to operas in “standing room”. Returning to Boise, he again rejoined the Boise Philharmonic, playing bass and later cello, viola, and harpsichord under Daniel Stern. In 1982 he went to graduate school in Berkeley to earn his master’s degree in theology.
Jim eventually moved to Hailey, where he met his wife Hermione, played piano for 20-odd years with the Sun Valley Trio in the Lodge Dining Room and the Duchin Room, and also was accompanist and occasionally arranger for the Sun Valley Music Institute and Wood River High and Middle Schools until he retired in 2017.
Now returned to Boise, Jim is active as an accompanist, sometimes plays cello with Serenata, and happily brings his experience in score-reading and continuo-playing to the BBO. On looking back at all of this, he is reminded of the old-west adage, “If you keep moving, they can’t draw a bead on you”.