David Baskeyfield is an English concert organist and church musician living in Upstate New York. He has earned a solid reputation built upon astonishing facility, tempered by intelligent interpretation and informed above all by sheer, expressive musicality; he takes his place at the forefront of his generation of performing musicians. “The youthful energy with which Baskeyfield negotiates the transitions is complemented by expressive maturity which, frankly, many musicians with considerably more years to their credit do not exhibit.”
Mr. Baskeyfield specializes in the music of the French composers of the 19th and 20th centuries; this is complemented by research interests in organ improvisation as taught by the apostolic succession of teachers and students at the Paris Conservatoire, and in the design, construction and voicing of the instruments of that school. However, his concert repertoire in general is varied and eclectic; a special affection for the Old Masters of the 17th-century North German School in no way detracts from his interpretations of the music of the great 19th-century virtuosos and he has, occasionally, given theatre organ recitals. He is increasingly renowned for improvised accompaniment of silent films. Hallmarks of his music making are a compelling sense of rhythm, incisive and crystalline articulation and, above all, a truly seamless, soaring legato.
His first album was recorded on the landmark Casavant organ of 1914 at St. Paul’s Church, Bloor Street, Toronto. At its installation the largest in Canada, the instrument combines elements of English and French voicing with an unusually developed palette of characterful orchestral voices; seeking to showcase these characteristics, the CD features music by Canadian, English and French composers. It was released on the ATMA Classique label to highly favorable reviews.
Mr. Baskeyfield was an organ scholar at St. John’s College, Oxford, where he read Law and studied organ with John Wellingham and David Sanger. On the encouragement of David Higgs he crossed the Atlantic to begin graduate work at the Eastman School of Music, where he was awarded a doctorate, studying under Higgs and William Porter. His dissertation explores the boundary between written composition and improvisation among the Parisian organist-composers under Louis Vierne and Marcel Dupré. Between Oxford and Eastman he spent a year as organ scholar of Christ Church Cathedral and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, accompanying or directing the choirs of professional mixed voices, and men and boys respectively. He is currently Director of Music at Christ Episcopal Church, Pittsford, the largest Episcopal congregation in New York outside the City. The recipient of an unusual number of first prizes in playing competitions, he was most recently the winner at the Canadian International Organ Competition 2014 (incidentally taking three other prizes including audience prize); earlier competition success includes first and audience prizes at St. Albans, Miami, Mader and the AGO National Competition in Organ Improvisation.
Some recent and upcoming recital engagements include Washington National Cathedral and the Basilica of the National Shrine; St. Thomas, 5th Avenue and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, NYC; the Oratoire St. Joseph, and the Basilique de Notre Dame, Montreal; King’s College, Cambridge; St. Albans Cathedral; St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh; Birmingham Town Hall; St. Bavo, Haarlem; Chartres Cathedral, and St. Sulpice; festivals, both as performer and teacher, include the Baylor Midwinter Organ Conference, the Calgary Organ Festival and the East Texas Pipe Organ Festival, where he is pleased to have been invited to return this coming November for the fourth year in a row.
Aside from solo performance he enjoys work as a collaborative pianist, continuo player, and occasional cocktail pianist. He has been broadcast a number of times on American Public Media’s Pipedreams, as well as NPR’s With Heart and Voice and, more locally, as part of the daily playlist on the classical station WXXI. Among other things, he is enthusiastic about cooking, brewing, sports fishing and aquarium fish, in particular the cichlids endemic to the east African rift lakes, Malawi and Tanganyika. Current projects include translation of writings by Dupré and Rolande Falcinelli held in a collection at the Sibley Music Library; training his English springer spaniel pup, Lucy; and designing and digging a 6000 gallon pond and filtration system to raise koi carp.
The Central Arkansas Chapter meets once a month, September through May, for dinner, business meeting and a concert. These meetings are a time for fellowship, to visit with old friends, to make new friends, and to enjoy the performances of world-class artists. Our recitals are free, open to the public, and made possible by the support of our members, chapter friends, and program sponsors.
Now is the time to join, or renew your membership of, the Central Arkansas Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. If you are an organist, church musician, or love the organ and its music, support our mission by joining us today. Memberships run from July 1 to June 30.
CACAGO is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. All contributions are tax-deductible.