Music Director and Organist Karen Eshelman first joined the staff of St. James as organist in September, 1988. She currently directs the youth and adult choirs and plays the church’s new pipe organ, built by Halbert Gober in 2007. Prior to coming to St. James Karen served as Organist/Choirmaster at churches in Rochester, NY; Minneapolis, MN; and Tryon, NC.
Originally from Portland, Oregon, Karen began her organ studies with John Strege at Trinity Episcopal Church (now Cathedral), as part of her undergraduate music degree at Portland State University. During this time, Dr. Strege appointed her to an assistant organist/choirmaster position at Trinity. Karen’s college studies included, as a second major area, piano study with award-winning Czech-American composer Tomas Svoboda. She then continued her studies at the Eastman School of Music, where she was a member of the class of master teacher Russell Saunders. She received her masters and doctoral degrees in organ from Eastman, and was also selected to be a recipient of the Performer’s Certificate, a special award for outstanding recitalists. More recently, Karen has attended classes in vocal production through the McCloskey Institute of Voice.