Nina Key-Campbell grew up in the Pacific Northwest surrounded by music. She started to play piano by ear at the age of four and began formal music lessons in the first grade. She studied organ in college, when Arnold Dolmetsch came to visit her school and brought along a small harpsichord. Nina fell in love with the sound of the instrument and locked herself in the studio with the instrument all day, skipping classes to play. The next year an organ professor arrived at the university who also played the harpsichord, so Nina studied both instruments. She received a Fulbright to study organ and harpsichord in Holland with the great Gustav Leonhardt. Nina took full advantage of this wonderful opportunity, taking many classes with the master – and was able to take three classes a week with him!
When Nina returned to the US, she studied at the University of Illinois with George Hunter and was the first recipient of a Master’s degree in harpsichord performance at the school. She married and moved to Syracuse, NY, where she played often. She had a family (two daughters) and purchased her first harpsichord.
Three years later in 1968, she moved to Cincinnati, where her husband was the first music librarian at CCM. Nina taught piano and performed in Cincinnati. She played with numerous formations of early music ensembles: recorders, cello, violin, and singers. She worked with Ben Bechtel (instrument maker and musician) to develop an early music series. Nina taught keyboard and aural skills at Northern Kentucky University for 22 years and tuned pianos for 10 years. In the 1989, Harold Byers, James and Barbara Lambert, and later Rod Stucky joined Nina to form Apollo’s Cabinet (formerly Baroque Chamber Soloists). They still perform concerts at Christ Church Cathedral, the Taft Museum, and other local concert series.
Nina has many musical goals:
1. A solo recital at Christ Church Cathedral on April 10, 2011 to celebrate the church’s new harpsichord purchase.
2. Nina and Jim love to show their instrument collection through open houses. They had an open house in the Spring for the MacDowell Society and another for advanced placement students at Indian Hill schools. They plan to invite friends and neighbors to see the instruments.
3. Scarlatti Project: Nina is doing an in-depth analysis of Scarlatti sonatas with commentaries. She is working with a statistician from Iowa State to run descriptive statistics of idea sequences. There are 563 total sonatas, and she has done 450 total. She presented a paper on this in Spain and would like to write an article and include this information on a website to be available as a resource for researchers and performers.
Jim and Nina are both involved in a joint meeting of the Southeast Keyboard Society and the Midwestern Historical Keyboard Society in Cincinnati in March of 2012. There will be two competitions: the Alienor Competition for new works and the Jurow Competition for harpsichord performance. Scholars will present papers, concerts will be performed, and instrument builders will bring their instruments to display. This will all take place at CCM! We are so lucky to have energetic and talented forces such as Nina and James here in the Greater Cincinnati region!