James Kibbie

Professor Emeritus of Music


James Kibbie maintains a full schedule of concert, recording, and festival engagements throughout North America and Europe, including appearances at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, Royal Festival Hall in London, Dvořak Hall in Prague, and Lincoln Center in New York. During his month-long concert tour of the Soviet Union in 1991, the newspaper Pravda hailed him as “a marvelous organist, a brilliant interpreter.” A frequent jury member of international organ competitions, he has himself been awarded the Grand Prix d’Interprétation at the prestigious International Organ Competition of Chartres, France, and is also the only American to have won the International Organ Competition of the Prague Spring Festival in the former Czechoslovakia.

James Kibbie’s performances have been broadcast on radio and television in the USA, Canada and Europe. His extensive discography includes “Merrily on Hill,” performed on the famed Skinner organ in Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, works of Dieterich Buxtehude recorded on the historic 1687 Schnitger organ of Norden, Germany, and discs of music by Bach, Franck, Alain, Tournemire, Sowande, Buck, Morrison, and contemporary Czech composers. Dr. Kibbie’s “audio holiday cards,” recorded on the Létourneau organ in his residence and issued as free internet downloads, are a popular annual tradition.

James Kibbie is internationally renowned as an authority on the organ music of Johann Sebastian Bach. He has performed the complete cycle of Bach organ works in a series of eighteen recitals and is in constant demand as a Bach recitalist and clinician.  His recordings of the complete Bach works on historic baroque organs in Germany have been welcomed with enthusiastic critical and audience acclaim. Thanks to generous support from Dr. Barbara Furin Sloat in honor of J. Barry Sloat, the University of Michigan is offering Dr. Kibbie’s recordings of all 274 Bach works as free internet downloads at www.blockmrecords.org/bach.

James Kibbie is Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan, where his 42-year tenure included service as University Organist and Chair of the Organ Department. His former students hold key positions in college teaching and church music nationally. Among the honors he has received, he is particularly proud of the James Kibbie Scholarship, endowed in perpetuity by the University of Michigan to support students majoring in organ performance and sacred music.


“James Kibbie plays with consummate clarity, brilliance and grandeur. His technically perfect performance reveals the compositional structure and an intuitive emotional penetration of the music.”–Ars Organi


“He unfolded a torrential virtuosity, revealed in a storm of light.”–Le Monde

Czech Republic:

“Kibbie displayed flawless, brilliant technique, unfailing memory, and outstanding musicianship.”–Hudebni rozhledy


“Music does communicate, and never more so than when it is played with the impulse and eloquence Dr. Kibbie commands.”–Musical Times


“Kibbie’s performances are persuasive. His registrations are colorful and effective, he roars through the most complex passages with dazzling facility, and he articulates the rhythmic excitement of the music with a wonderful flexibility and clarity.”–American Record Guide

“His exquisite playing, from memory, provided no obstacles to a pure musical experience…. Kibbie proved himself at one with the music, giving an authoritative performance, absolutely assured and stunningly played.”—The Diapason


Norman Cocker, Tuba Tune
The Fountain Street Church, Grand Rapids


Fela Sowande, Nigerian Prayer
The Fountain Street Church, Grand Rapids