The Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies is the only organization with a mission of promoting dialogue among keyboard performers, scholars, and instrument makers. Programs sponsored by the Center have brought together professionals from around the world—including many leading figures—for conferences, symposia, panel discussions, workshops, and demonstrations, often in collaboration with major cultural institutions.
With its educational and outreach programs, the Center acts as an advocate for the classical keyboard and its music. Programs such as Festival Organ, with its interactive exhibition and public talks and concerts, reach many thousands of people across the country, in many cases providing an important first exposure to the rich and varied world of keyboard music.
The Center's publications range from monographs for scholars to a full-color timeline outlining the remarkable 2,600-year heritage of the pipe organ.
Since its founding in 1979, the Center has sponsored over one hundred events, including workshops, research conferences and symposia, tours to historic instruments, solo recitals and early music concerts, educational programs for children, and programs—such as the Festival Organ exhibition—designed to interest the general public in classical keyboard instruments and their repertoire.
Founded in Massachusetts, but with offices currently at Cornell University, NY, the Center has presented many programs in Massachusetts (Westfield, Northampton, Wellesley, and Boston), and in other locations throughout the United States, including Tennessee, Virginia, California, Arizona, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, Wisconsin, Ohio, Oregon, New York, and Washington DC and Washington state. In 2007, its first international conference held outside of the U.S. took place in Victoria, British Columbia (Canada). Its members are in 47 states and 18 countries, and its activities include international study tours as well as publications and symposia on topics of national and international interest.
The Westfield Center was founded in 1979 by Lynn Edwards and Edward Pepe to fill a need for keyboard events promoting performance practice and instrument building in historical styles. Ms. Edwards, an organist and scholar, served as the Center's Director 1987–1999.
In July 1999, Roger Sherman became Executive Director. Mr. Sherman is an organist and harpsichordist. In addition to his duties at the Center, he serves as the associate organist of St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle, and as owner and CEO of Loft Recordings, a company that produces CD recordings as well as the weekly radio program The Organ Loft.
Appointed in 2007, Annette Richards, Professor of Music and University Organist at Cornell University, served as the Executive Director of the Westfield Center, and as the editor of its yearly publication, Keyboard Perspectives, through 2017
In January 2018, Kathryn Stuart was named Executive Director. Ms. Stuart holds a doctorate from Cornell University where she studied with Malcolm Bilson and has recently retired from Oberlin College where she most recently served as Dean of Studies and Vice President of Strategic Initiatives.
Established as a membership association for organ performers/scholars, the Westfield Center's initial focus was on early Renaissance and Baroque music and instruments. It sponsored workshops and conferences, published monograms for scholars, and presented period-instrument concerts, many of which were rebroadcast by National Public Radio stations, and was cited for its innovative programming and leadership in the field of early music.
Recognizing the close connection among all keyboard instruments, the Center's programs have expanded to include the harpsichord, the clavichord, and the piano in addition to the organ. Its focus embraces all periods of music history.
In pursuing its mission to promote the study and appreciation of the organ and other keyboard instruments, the Westfield Center has become a vital public advocate for keyboard instruments and music. By bringing together professionals and an increasingly diverse music audience, the Center has inspired collaborations among organizations nationally and internationally.