Retired professor and career pianist to give free recital March 18

Monday, March 5, 2012
John Shelton plays a tune on the piano at Chateau Girardeau Tuesday morning, Feb. 28, 2012. Shelton will be giving a recital to celebrate his 80th birthday. (Laura Simon)

Dr. John Shelton started taking piano lessons in first grade -- at the urging of his piano teacher, he says. Turns out, he enjoyed music so much that he made a career of it. He earned his master's degree in piano and a doctorate in music education, then taught piano at Southeast Missouri State University for 36 years. Since retiring in 1998 and moving to Chateau Girardeau, Shelton is still in demand as an accompanist and choir director.

"I played a good many recitals and did accompaniment. It was natural to continue doing some of that when I retired and moved here," he says. Shelton serves as an accompanist for many of his former colleagues at the university, and was choir director for Handel's "Messiah" performances in Cape Girardeau and Altenburg, Mo., last December.

Shelton is known for his piano expertise at the Chateau, as well. He performed at the facility's 30th anniversary celebration and occasionally treats his fellow residents to recitals. On most Saturday afternoons, he plays piano for Centenary United Methodist Church's worship services at Chateau. Shelton, a Centenary member himself, served as the church's choir director for 25 years.

At 3 p.m. Sunday, March 18, he'll invite the community to a free piano recital in the main lobby at Chateau Girardeau.

"I wanted to prove to myself and others that my fingers still work and my mind still remembers," says Shelton, who turned 80 on Jan. 21 -- and still memorizes all of his music. In honor of his milestone birthday and the number of keys on a piano, he's calling the recital "80 on the 88s."

Shelton's two grown children from Texas will be in attendance, as will his daughter who lives in Cape Girardeau and a number of Chateau residents, former students and colleagues, and fellow musicians. Others assisting in the recital include Beverly Reece on piano, Dr. Marc Fulgham on trumpet, Rebecca Fulgham on piano, and voice performances from Dr. Chris Goecke, Lori Schaffer and even his daughter, Elizabeth Shelton.

Chateau Girardeau is at the corner of Mount Auburn Road and Independence in Cape Girardeau. Shelton's recital is free and open to the public, but seating may be limited.

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