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David Ridgely Riley, 1947—2017

It is with great sadness that St Stephen’s announces the death of David Ridgley Riley, former choirmaster and organist at St Stephen’s. Mr Riley passed away at home on Thursday, January 5th, 2017 (edited to correct date). A memorial service will be held at St Stephen’s on Saturday, February 11th, 2017, at 11:00 AM. Meanwhile, you may read and share reminiscences at his ForeverMissed page.

David Ridgley Riley, son of the Rev. Joseph Tucker Riley, Sr., and the former Dorothy Mae Sharley, loving brother of Joseph Tucker Riley, Jr., and half-brother of John Riley, passed away at his home in Baltimore, MD.

He is survived by his half-brother, John. He is also survived by five generations of choristers, to whom he dedicated his life. David worked as an organist and choirmaster for over 40 years. He had a chronicled love of music. He began this love of music at the age of 5, when he started piano lessons.

Through the years of 1956 to 1965, David honed these piano studies with Martha Svendsen at Peabody Prep. A graduate of Milford Mill High School, David often skipped classes his senior year, learning to play the organ under Bob Bagdon at St. Michael and All Angels, where David was an assistant organist. He continued these lessons at The Peabody Conservatory, where he earned two bachelors of arts degrees in church music and the organ, studying under noted organists Philip Steinhaus, Albert Russell, and Paul Davis.

He also studied political science at Johns Hopkins University.

David’s biggest impact came as a choirmaster. David was the organist and choirmaster at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in York, PA, before accepting positions at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (Old St. Paul’s), and St. Stephen’s Anglican Church, all in the Baltimore area. Through these churches, David directed some of the finest choirs of men and boys in the mid-Atlantic area, performing at notable places such as The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Wolf Trap, and The Washington National Opera.

He had a particular love for the Baltimore Orioles. The boys’ choir sang the national anthem at Memorial Stadium and Camden Yards on numerous occasions. His choirs also sang Evensong at several venerable English cathedrals on two tours of England.

Most importantly, Mr. Riley will be remembered for the generosity and life lessons he taught the generations of men and boys under his tutelage. He will be severely missed by his friends and family of choirs, alike.

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