Madison music icon James H. Latimer, Emeritus Professor of Music (1968-1999) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was recently notified that he will be granted the distinction of honorary doctor of Humane Letters from Florida A&M University (FAMU) at their fall commencement.
For Latimer, it is an old homecoming. His first university position was at FAMU in the late 1950s and the first of three University percussion programs that he established in his professional career. Commencement exercises at Florida A & M University are scheduled for December 11.
In addition to his academic work, Latimer was cited for his international connections, Fulbright assignment, guest clinician, performance and conductor appearances, establishment of the now 33-year-old Madison Marimba Quartet, and extended service to the community through the Capitol City Band and the VFW (Post 1318) Volunteer Community Band. He was also recognized for his humanitarian service through Rotary International, United Way, UW, and in the communities where he lived.
Among those American greats with whom Latimer worked are Duke Ellington, Alan Dawson, Max Roach, William Kraft, Paul Price, Paul Creston, Sarah Caldwell (Boston Ballet) and Arthur Fiedler. Latimer also recorded with Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra. He was further cited for the accomplishments of his students who attribute their successful careers in part to the teachings of Professor Latimer. Students have gone on to be Deans and Professors of Music at prestigious institutions, performers in professional orchestras, bands and chamber groups, as well as authors, composers, physicians and successful business leaders.
Jim Latimer was timpanist with the Madison Symphony Orchestra for 31 years prior to his retirement in 1999. Latimer is the 34-year conductor of Madison’s Capitol City Band and the VFW Community Band.