Keyboardist Sean Rogers has given up play-it-safe jobs to pursue his dream.
When the piano and organ player left a position accompanying and coaching music students at The College of Idaho last summer, friends talked him into becoming a full-time performer, arranger and composer. Even his mom, Linda Quinn, who Rogers describes as a proponent of the practical, agreed it was time.
And Rogers, 41, says “life feels a little more inspired.
“As a musician, I’ve always tried to go for the ‘sure thing.’ ... If you would have told me three years ago that I would be doing this, I would never have believed it. But I’m loving it,” says the Ontario, Ore., native who now lives in Caldwell. “I’ve learned the ‘sure thing’ is where your heart is.”
Rogers performs solo and with ensembles and orchestras, and has accompanied operas, musical productions and silent films. His repertoire includes classical concertos, jazz and Big Band music. He’s been associated with the Center for the Arts in Caldwell, Music Theatre of Idaho, Boise Music Week and Opera Idaho. He has performed in eight countries, including Ireland, Hungary and Canada.
Rogers has four degrees from The College of Idaho — in organ performance, piano performance, sacred music and religion.
He and hand-bell artist Phyllis Tincher — a duo called Ring Praise — travel to churches performing sacred music. They’ve had two of their arrangements published this year and together they’ve recorded four CDs.
The church is Rogers’ musical foundation. The music director for First United Presbyterian in Nampa says he was 8 when he took his first job playing organ in a church.
“I was 3 years old when I first started touching keyboards and they couldn’t keep me off of them,” he recalls.
Lessons began at age 5. He says he was 12 or 13 when he began playing organ in an Ontario restaurant, and performed jazz piano in a cocktail lounge at 15. That was about the time he traveled once a month to Portland for lessons in arranging and composing.
He practiced — for hours a day and sometimes until late at night — at the home of his grandparents, Estelle and Francis Chilman. His grandmother’s role as president of Ontario’s Community Concerts Association gave him a back-stage introduction to many artists and their music.
It was a good start for someone who says he never wanted to do anything else: “At 6 or 7 I knew I wanted to be a musician.”
Growing up in a small town, Rogers says he felt a lot of community support and now wants to give back through his music.
“If you have a career in music, it’s not about you, it’s about the people.”