Renowned organist James David Christie will perform in Toronto at St. Basil’s Church June 6. Photo courtesy of James David Christie

Famed organist Christie to perform in Toronto

By 
  • May 29, 2014

TORONTO - Prolific organist James David Christie is coming to Toronto to perform what appears to be a tour-de-force concert.

“I’m very excited; I love coming to Toronto,” said Christie, who is playing as part of the Organix 2014 festival circuit, June 6 at 8 p.m. at St. Basil’s Church.

Currently the Chair and Professor of Organ at the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music in Oberlin, Ohio, Distinguished- Artist in-Residence at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., and Chair and College Organist at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Mass., Christie is also an active concert organist, recording artist, choir director and teacher of some of the best organ students in the world. His resume is almost unmatched by any in his profession.

His concert at St. Basil’s will be played on the parish’s Casavant Frères Opus 800 — an organ designed in the romantic style.

“I hear that it’s a beautiful organ; I’m very excited about it,” said Christie, who chose his Toronto concert program based on the specifications of the instrument.

“Very often in our profession, people want to say, ‘well, he plays early music or he plays romantic music…,’ ” said Christie. “I like to prove that I’m really a 21st-century musician.”

Notable in the program is a piece composed by Christie himself, “Élégie: à la mémoire de Jean Langlais” — a commissioned work by a convent in La Crosse, Wisconsin, where he was born.

“They were having their 150th anniversary, and they asked me to play a dedication recital for their Casavant organ… I did a triptych and this is the Second Movement,” said Christie, adding that this movement is the most successful of the three.

“Élégie” is dedicated to the memory of a Franciscan nun who had been Christie’s piano teacher, and who had kept him involved in organ.

In addition to his extensive performing and recording career, Christie has influenced a wealth of new organ talent who eagerly seek his teaching.

Former students include local artist Philip Fournier, the titular organist of the Toronto Oratory and guest artist with the Musicians in Ordinary among many other up-and-coming organists who are excelling in the performance and competition circuits around the world.

Having been involved in Catholic music ministry for more than 50 years, Christie hopes to see many talented, young organists land in parishes in order to continue the tradition of sacred music.

“They’re having an enriching experience, with great traditions and quality of music,” said Christie. “There’s great quality in music that’s being written today, along with the ‘cheap and the popular.’ That’s our greatest problem.

“We’ve proven that it’s not the music that brings people to church. It can be a great assistant to it, but having ‘popular’ music in your church doesn’t ensure that you’re going to have a full congregation.”

For tickets to Christie’s Organix 2014 concert, visit www.organixconcerts.ca.

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