David Baskeyfield is an English concert organist and church musician living in Rochester, New York. He has earned a reputation for creative programing, showcasing an astonishing facility tempered by intelligent interpretation, authoritative command of registration and informed above all by sheer, expressive musicality. “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. 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 a truly seamless 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. His doctoral research explored the boundary between written composition and improvisation among the Parisian organist-composers taught by 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 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.
He is represented in North America by Karen McFarlane Artists, Inc.