Arts Profile: Keith Shafer

Kendrick Brinson/Staff
Keith Shafer is the organist at St. Paul's Church in Augusta, Georgia.

AGE: 55

 

OCCUPATION: Director of music and organist at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, artistic director of Tuesday's Music Live, director of The Riverwalk Series Inc. and president of Church Music Services

WHEN HE BEGAN PLAYING. "I started playing the piano when I was 5, and I started playing the organ when I was about 9, and I had my first church job when I was 10."

MEMORABLE PERFORMANCE: Ledyard Congressional Church, 1960: I was in a concert there, and I probably was 8 or 9 years old, and I remember that I got a nosebleed in the middle of the piece I was playing. And instead of stopping, I just kept right on going ... so when I stood up to turn around to bow, the whole front of my shirt was covered with blood. It just flipped the audience out. That was a great moment."

favorite performance: "Every performance I do is sort of my favorite at the time I'm doing it. The ones that stand out the most would be: St. Paul's here in Augusta redid their organ 11 years ago, and I played the first concert on the new organ. That was a great moment for me. And the same for Reid Memorial Presbyterian (in 2003). I played a dedication concert for their church, and there was a wonderful crowd there. That was a great event."

FIRST MUSIC TEACHER (5 YEARS OLD): "A traveling German musician named Wilhelm Lindner. I remember that he taught me how to play music from musicals."

BALANCING MUSIC WITH OTHER OBLIGATIONS: "I'm an organized person. You have to be. If you're going to be a church music director, you're going to be teaching other people, you really have to be organized. This image of musicians is that they're disorganized, flighty ... You can't be a successful musician if you have that kind of a personality. You'll quickly come crashing down."

IF HE COULD PERFORM WITH ANYONE: The New York Philharmonic

 

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