Lecturer in Organ
DMA, University of Michigan
MM, Yale University
BM, University of Alberta
A native of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, Brennan Szafron is the first full-time organist and choirmaster of the Episcopal Church of the Advent in Spartanburg, SC, a position he has held since August 2003. At this church, he is responsible for playing the organ for all services, directing two adult and three children’s choirs, and directing and arranging music for the instrumental and hand chime ensembles. He took a group of adults to New York City where on August 20, 2006 they were the choir-in-residence at Grace Church, Broadway and to Washington, DC in early June of 2013, when they sang at the Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and St. Alban’s Episcopal Church. He took an adult choir to Lincoln Cathedral, Lincoln, England where they were the choir-in-residence for a week in July 2016. Also, since 2009 he has been an adjunct instructor in organ performance and college organist at Converse College.
Dr. Szafron’s earliest training as an organist began in Ottawa, Ontario in 1990, when he took his first year of lessons with Danielle Dubé at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church. He finished high school in Regina where between 1991 and 1994 his teachers were Verleen Baerg, Gordon Wallis, and Harold Gallagher. While in Regina, he took on his first professional positions which were as organists of St. Peter’s Anglican Church and Christ Lutheran Church. He has had continued church employment since then.
Before coming to Spartanburg, Brennan Szafron was the assistant organist and choirmaster of Christ Episcopal Church, Grosse Pointe, MI, with whom he toured France and Switzerland in the summer of 2003. He was also a student at the University of Michigan, where he received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in organ performance, studying with Robert Glasgow. Other degrees include a Master of Music degree from Yale University, where his teachers were Thomas Murray and Martin Jean, and a Bachelor of Music degree, with distinction, from the University of Alberta, where his teachers were Jacobus Kloppers and Marnie Giesbrecht. While living in Edmonton, he served as the organist of First Baptist Church (1995-98) and sang with the University Alberta Madrigal Singers. At the age of 21, he became a Fellow of the Royal Canadian College of Organists. He has participated in conducting masterclasses with Robert Simpson and Dennis Keane.
Brennan Szafron is the recipient of numerous awards and scholarships. While at the University of Alberta, he received several Beryl Barns memorial scholarships and at Yale, he received the Edwin Stanley Seder memorial scholarship. He was the third prize winner of the 1997 Royal Canadian College of Organists National Competition and the 1998 recipient of the RCCO John Goss Memorial Scholarship for advanced organ study outside of Canada. In 2008, he received the third prize in the first ever RCCO National Improvisation competition and competed in the Marcello Galanti International Organ Competition in Mondaino, Italy. He also received the third prize in the 2015 University of Michigan Organ Improvisation Competition.
In November 2004, Dr. Szafron played the Barber Toccata Festiva and Saint-Saens' Symphony No. 3 with the Greater Spartanburg Philharmonic orchestra, and in July 2005, gave a recital at First Baptist Church, Charlotte, NC. On September 11, 2005, he gave a recital at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. He has also performed on the 1998 Organ a la Carte series at Jack Singer Concert Hall, Calgary, AB, performed a 2000 recital in Regina, SK in commemoration of the death anniversary of J.S. Bach, and performed at St. James Cathedral in Toronto, ON just before the 2001 RCCO National Convention. He was a featured recitalist in the L’organoseries for the 2006 Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC (and again in 2012 with the duo “The Philharmonic Flutes”), and a recitalist at North Greenville University on October 2nd, 2006. Other recitals have been on the Pro Organo series of the Royal Canadian College of Organists, Ottawa Centre, Cliffs Community chapel at Glassy Mountain, South Carolina, St. Thomas Church, New York City, Holy Family Catholic Church, Hilton Head Island, First Presbyterian Church, Gastonia, NC, Holy Cross Episcopal Church, Tryon, NC, Princeton University Chapel, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Columbia, SC, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Charlotte, NC, First United Methodist Church, Easley, SC, the Episcopal Church of the Advent, Spartanburg, Trinity Episcopal Church, Abbeville, SC, Trinity Lutheran Church, Greenville, SC and at Twichell Auditorium, Converse College in a faculty recital with multiple instrumentalists. In 2012-13, he reprised the Barber Toccata Festiva with the Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra (formerly the Greater Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra), and gave recitals at the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta, GA and St. James Episcopal Church in Hendersonville, NC. In the summer of 2013 he dedicated the organ at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Spartanburg and gave a recital at First United Methodist Church, Charlotte. 2013-14 included a recital at the Church of the Advent celebrating their organ’s 25th anniversary, a solo recital with guest pianist Doug Weeks in Twichell Auditorium, a performance with the Converse College Symphony Orchestra as the soloist for the Poulenc organ concerto, a recital at Central Synagogue, NYC, and a recital at Landrum Presbyterian Church, Landrum, SC. He played at Holy Cross Episcopal Church again in October of 2014. His most recent recitals have been at North Greenville University, Tigerville, SC (February 2016) and at Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC (August 2016). He will reprise the Symphony No. 3 of Camille Saint-Saens with the Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra in April of this year and also give a recital at Trinity Episcopal Church in Reno, NV.
Dr. Szafron has been featured on the South Carolina Public Radio show “On the Keys” and discusses his church’s organ in a YouTube video series entitled “Pipe Organs of South Carolina”.