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Shawn Kirchner is a gifted pianist whose abilities were nurtured by his principal teachers, Joan Smalley and George Katz. He began lessons at the age of eight after his mother helped to refinish and rebuild the upright oak piano his father had found in the back of an old building in Garrison, Iowa. Playing by ear and improvisation came naturally, and soon combined with an aptitude for sight-reading that enabled quick progress. Serving as an accompanist at school and church was his "on-the-job training" training during his formative years, and he became church organist early in high school, earning $35 a week. Although his initial training was classical, he has aspired to assimilate new styles throughout his career, including folk, gospel, jazz and pop.  Inspired by his mentor, the banjo-playing poet, Steve Kinzie, he developed his own style of “bluegrass piano,” which reflects the rhythm and virtuosity of bluegrass music.  Through the years Kirchner has also developed the ability to convincingly imitate the particular keyboard styles of various classical composers in improvised music.

He has appeared on many occasions as a pianist with the Los Angeles Master Chorale at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Before moving to Los Angeles, Kirchner was a free-lance pianist and vocal coach in Chicago.  He also worked as an accompanist in the voice studios of Elsa Charlston and Catherine Malfitano, and played for Neil Rosenshein’s studio at the Lyric Opera’s Center for American Artists. In Los Angeles, Kirchner has played for Judith Natalucci's master class, and he also done recital work for such singers as Elissa Johnston, Michele Hemmings, Karen Hogle Brown, and Scott Graff. His appearances as a guest artist include performances with the Pasadena Master Chorale, the Los Robles Master Chorale, and the Angeles Chorale. And most Sundays will find him at the keyboard -- organ or piano -- at the La Verne Church of the Brethren.

To engage Shawn Kirchner as a pianist for recordings, concerts, or other projects, please click here.


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