James Higdon is the Dane and Polly Bales Professor of Organ and Director of the Division of Organ and Church Music at the University of Kansas. He earned a Bachelor of Music degree in organ from St. Olaf College, Master of Music degree from Northwestern University, and Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Eastman School of Music. He has studied with Edmund Ladouceur, Robert Kendall, Karel Paukert, David Craighead, and Catharine Crozier. He has also studied in France with Marie-Claire Alain.
Higdon’s recordings include: Dupré : A Centennial Tribute (Pro Organo), recorded at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Toronto, Canada ; Organ Music of France and Camille SAINT SAËNS (Arkay), both recorded on the 1879 Cavaillé-Coll organ at St.- François-de-Sales, Lyon, France ; and Jehan Alain : Complete Works for Organ (RBW). He is also featured on two recordings with the renowned Kansas City Chorale – Nativitas and Alleluia: An American Hymnal, recorded on the Nimbus label. Recently released is Music from Bales Organ Recital Hall (DCD Records), the inaugural recording of the new Hellmuth Wolff organ in the Bales Organ Recital Hall at the University of Kansas.
Recent European concert tours include recitals at Notre Dame Cathedral, La Madeleine and Saint-Étienne-du-Mont in Paris, St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna and concerts and master classes in Germany, Prague and Poland. Recent American recitals include appearances at four regional conventions of The American Guild of Organists. He has premières of three commissioned works for organ by American Composers :
Epistrophe : A Sonata in Four Movements for Organ – Samuel Adler, 1992 Three Temperaments – Stephen Paulus, 1996 Trelugue, Peccatas and Feuds – Music for a Reverberant Space – James Mobberley, 1997.
The University of Kansas presented him with a W.T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence at the beginning of the 1997-1998 academic year. He was the first University of Kansas professor from the arts to be recognized with this prestigious award. He has had six students win Fulbright Awards and two students awarded International Rotary Grants during his tenure at the University of Kansas.
James Higdon is also active as an adjudicator. He recently served on juries for numerous international organ playing competitions : Calgary North American Finals (Atlanta) ; International Organ Playing Competition (Erfurt, Germany) ; the Concours International d’orgue de la ville Biarritz : Prix André Marchal (Biarritz, France) ; the Concours internationaux de la Ville de Paris ; the Canadian International Organ Competition (Montréal) ; the Taraverdiev International Organ Competition (Moscow and Kaliningrad) and the Concours International de Chartres.