G. Herald Keefer

G. Herald Keefer. Organist, organ builder, composer, b Vancouver 12 Apr 1919; honorary PH D (Somerset, England) 1985. He received his early choir training in Vancouver under Frederick Robinson.

Keefer, G. Herald

G. Herald Keefer. Organist, organ builder, composer, b Vancouver 12 Apr 1919; honorary PH D (Somerset, England) 1985. He received his early choir training in Vancouver under Frederick Robinson. During World War II, while serving as a radio instructor in the RCAF in Montreal, he studied organ and choir directing with John Weatherseed. After the war Keefer returned to Vancouver as organist of St Philip's Anglican Church and director of its boys' choir. He continued his organ studies under Richard T. Bevan and later with Leonard Wilson, who in 1957 commissioned him to build (for Wilson's studio) the first baroque organ in western Canada. While he was serving as secretary of the Vancouver Centre of the RCCO, his contacts with visiting organists (eg, E. Power Biggs) led to a serious interest in organ building. In 1957, at the International Congress of Organ Builders in Holland, he gathered important ideas from such builders as Dirk Flentrop and Henry Willis. Largely self-taught, Keefer, with his associate Dennis Connorton, began building and rebuilding organs under the company name of G. Herald Keefer and Associate. Between 1959 and 1979 the two built over 20 pipe organs for customers on the west coast of the USA and Canada. These include instruments for the First Church of Christ Scientist, Seattle (1959), School of Music, U of Washington, Seattle (1961), St Andrew's Wesley Church, Vancouver (1967), Holy Trinity Cathedral, New Westminster (1969), and St Helen's Church, Vancouver (1978). The St Andrew's Wesley organ, their largest, has 6000 pipes in 93 ranks, 120 stops, and four manuals. Keefer also determines the scale of pipes to be used, designing them so as to ensure a distinctive tone. Almost all of his organs are of the electro-pneumatic type.

Keefer became organist-choirmaster at Holy Trinity Cathedral, New Westminster, in 1969, and taught organ 1972-8 at the Vancouver Bible College, Surrey. He was chairman of the Vancouver Centre, RCCO, in 1962 and also has been a chairman of the music division of the Community Arts Council of Vancouver. He has given organ recitals at Holy Trinity Cathedral and has written over 30 sacred compositions. Five of his hymns (some with his words as well as music) were published in Wings of Song (Unity Village, Mo 1984), and his commissioned Missa S. Marie et S. Marthae (1986) was published for regular use in the local parish of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada.

In the late 1980s Keefer designed a massive organ for his studio in Surrey, with circuits designed and built by electronic engineer Anthony John Ellis of Abbotsford, BC. This organ, 98 per cent completed by 1989, may have the largest capacity in western Canada, with 4 manuals, 73 stops, 26 ranks of solid state generator panels, multiple choice of pistons, and 10 channels of sound. It has been used for regular Sunday services, teaching, and local recitals. In 1988 Keefer was granted an honorary fellowship from Wessex Theological College, Yeovil, England, for 'Services given and in Recognition of his developed attainments as a Church Musician and Organ Builder'.