Baylor University Welcomes Famous Organists for the 19th Annual Midwinter Organ Conference

Karina Samudio
Guest Contributor

Baylor University’s School of Music will be hosting its 19th Annual Midwinter Organ Conference which started Thursday and ends Saturday at various locations throughout Baylor campus.

The conference, which chooses to focus on the younger generation of organists, will feature many new rising stars in the organ community like Stephen Buzard and David Baskyfield, who are both award winning, young organists.

Isabelle Demers, assistant professor of organ and an organist with worldwide acclaim, said she looks at the conference optimistically.

“We’re always reminded of the difficulties the classical music world is facing, but we’ve also witnessed the emergence of a brilliant crop of performers these past few years,” Demers said. “Sometimes, one needs to see the glass half full, not half empty.”

Demers kicked off the conference Thursday with her opening recital followed by a panel discussion with Michael Barone, the host of the weekly organ radio show “Pipedreams”, and several young organists of critical acclaim.

“The pipe organ as we know it today is the most complex and, in the case of several of them, the largest musical instrument in the world.” Barone said when speaking about the instrument. “It is a sound producer. It is a tone color generator, and what it can do and the sorts of music it can play is only limited by the imagination of the person playing it.”

The evening continued with a performance of “Hindemith’s Third Organ Sonata” by Raymond Nagem,a young organist who has performed in the Julliard and Yale Symphony Orchestra, and ended with a Valentine’s Day Banquet with another concert and discussion afterwards.

Demers will start off the conference at 8:30 a.m. today in Markham Organ Studio with another recital. There will be a post concert discussion with Barone at 9 a.m. and an “Organ Scholarship” lecture given by Stephen Buzard at at 10 a.m. with all events being held in the Markham Organ Studio.

The afternoon activities open at 1 p.m. in the Paul Powell Chapel at the Truett Theological Seminary with a recital performed by Nagem followed by a lecture by Stephen Morris, professional musician and Baylor graduate, at 2:30 p.m. and a lecture/interview with Joyce Jones, who helps fund the conference and was once Baylor’s organist-in-residence at 4 p.m.

The conference will wrap up for the day with a recital at 7 p.m. in the Jones Concert Hall by Baskyfield and a reception at 8:30 p.m. at the house of Robert and Joyce Jones.

The final day of the conference, Saturday, will open with a “Master Class on Improvisation” at 9 a.m. hosted by Baskeyfield and a choral concert by Bella Voce at 11 a.m. in the Roxy Grove Hall.

All events are free and are open to the public. For more information, call the Baylor University School of Music at 254-710-3991.