James David Christie
April 29, 2018
The deeply-admired and greatly lauded concert career of organist James David Christie has been marked by performances literally around the globe as a solo organ recitalist and as a performer and concerto soloist with the world’s greatest symphony orchestras and period instrument ensembles. Especially noted for his engaging performances of the works of Renaissance and Baroque composers, Dallas Morning Star critic Scott Cantrell stated: “There's a reason James David Christie keeps getting invited to play Baroque music on instruments like this. He does it with both intellectual understanding and visceral flair – and where appropriate, playfulness. He makes the music live and breathe and dance." Equally admired for his performances of German and French Romantic and Contemporary music, Christie has given the premiere performances of over 50 new works and has 10 published works dedicated to him.
He was the first American, and also the first person in the competition’s eighteen-year history to win both the First Prize and the Prize of the Audience at the 1979 Bruges (Belgium) International Organ Competition. Christie has served as Organist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra since 1978 and has performed and recorded with the major orchestras of Vienna, London, Stuttgart, Koblenz, Philadelphia, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, Baltimore, New York, Boston, and many others. He has given over sixty concert tours of Europe. He is Music Director of Ensemble Abendmusik, a Boston-based period instrument orchestra and chorus specializing in sacred music of the 17th and 18th centuries. He has performed with many period instrument orchestras including the Academy of Ancient Music, the Bach Ensemble, Handel & Haydn Society, Boston Baroque, Dublin Baroque, and the New York Collegium. He has served on international organ competition juries in Paris, St. Omer-Wasquehal, Chartres, Béthune, Biarritz, St. Albans, Amsterdam, Lübeck, Dublin, Worcester, Calgary, Montréal, Columbus, Dallas, Leipzig, Weimar-Merseburg, Speyer, Erfurt, Tokyo, Moscow, Kaliningrad, Pistoia, Astana, Lausanne, Boston, and Bruges. His students have been competition prizewinners in North America, Europe, Japan, Russia, and South Africa.
James David Christie has as extensive discography, including performances on the Decca, Philips, Nonesuch, JAV, Northeastern, Arabesque, Denon, RCA, Dorian, Naxos, Bridge, CPO, and GM labels and has received several awards for his solo recordings, including the Preis der Deutschen Schallplatten Kritik and the Magazine d’Orgue: Coup de Coeur. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the New England School of Law for his outstanding contributions to the musical life of Boston and the New England Conservatory honored him with their Outstanding Alumni Award. In 2015 he was awarded Oberlin College’s Excellence in Teaching Award.
James David Christie holds positions as the Distinguished Artist in Residence at the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA, Chair and David S. Boe Professor of Organ at the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, Oberlin, OH, and serves as College Organist at Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA. He has previously held positions at Boston Conservatory, Harvard University, M.I.T., and Boston University. From September through December 2010, he served as visiting professor of organ at the National Paris Conservatory (CNSMDP). In the summer of 2012, James David Christie was the first American ever to be invited to teach at the 49th Haarlem International Organ Academy in the Netherlands, where he taught a class on J. S. Bach’s organ works. In 2015, he celebrated his 30th anniversary as Distinguished Artist in Residence at the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA, where he presides over the magnum opus of the Taylor & Boody organ company.
In 2015-2016, he performed concerts and gave master classes in the United States, Japan, Russia, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Canada and served as the USA juror on international organ competition juries in Erfurt-Weimar and Moscow. He collaborated on a multi-CD recording of the complete organ works of Johann Pachelbel on historic organs in Thuringia (Germany) with three European colleagues for the CPO label. James David Christie performed the opening gala concert of the 2014 national convention of the American Guild of Organists at Symphony Hall, Boston, with a program of five major works for organ and orchestra; this was his sixth appearance as an AGO national convention featured artist and his fifth convention appearance as a soloist with orchestra. He has performed for several national conventions of the Organ Historical Society and most recently appeared in June 2015 at Tanglewood with colleagues from the Boston Symphony Orchestra for their 60th national convention, which was held in western Massachusetts. In July 2015, he performed and gave a master class for the Indianapolis regional AGO convention. He was also the featured guest artist that same month for the national convention of the Royal College of Organists in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where he appeared in solo concert, gave several master classes and performed a gala closing concert of organ and orchestra works with the Winnipeg Symphony. Following Winnipeg, he performed and gave two weeks of master classes on 17th century north German and Dutch organ repertoire for the McGill Summer Organ Academy. Immediately following the McGill Academy, he was a guest faculty member at the University of Music and Theater in Leipzig, Germany, and performed an all-Bach recital at Bach’s church, Saint Thomas in Leipzig. In mid-August, he gave concerts in several cities in France, Germany, and Russia. In October, he performed a recital for the Thüringer Bachwochen on the historic Wender organ at the Bachkirche-Saint Boniface in Arnstadt, Germany. In February and March of 2016, James David Christie was organ soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra for two subscription weeks under conductors Charles Dutoit and Stéphane Denève. He also oerformed solo recital n Germany at the Bamburg Philharmonic Hall that same month.
In the summer of 2016, he returned to Europe as the featured American artist for the Tallinn International Organ Festival, performing five concerts throughout Estonia, and several master classes at the Tallinn Conservatory. Following the Tallinn Festival, he gave solo recitals in Germany and the Netherlands. In January of 2017, he took his Oberlin organ class to visit thirty important historic instruments from the 16th through the 20th centuries. Summer concerts in 2017 will take James David Christie to Tanglewood with the Bostno Symphony Orchestra and Germany to perform on historic organs in Waltershausen, Suhl, Arnstadt, Erfurt and Dresden; he will be the featured artist for the closing concert of the Youngstown Regional AGO Convention as soloist in a gala concert featuring multiple works for organ and orchestra. In the fall of 2017, he will serve on international competition juries in Pistoia, Italy (president of the jury) and the Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck International Organ Competition in Amsterdam; he will perform and record on the historic Dom Bedos organ at Sainte-Croix in Bordeaux, France. James David Christie is scheduled to make his first visit to China in 2018.