WILLIAMSPORT - Local author Beverly Shaffer Gast will host a presentation and book-signing in the third-floor Lowry Room of the James V. Brown Library's Welch Family Wing, tomorrow from 2 to 4 p.m.
She will promote "Angel in Black: A Musical Life in Letters, 1925-1973," her biography of her sister, world-renowned concert flutist Elaine Shaffer who graduated from Williamsport High School in the early 1940s.
At a time when opportunities were closed to women and orchestral venues boasted signs: "Only Men Need Apply," Elaine Shaffer's extraordinary talent and perseverance forged a career that would lead her to soaring heights.
"Angel in Black" tells the true story of how she became the first female concert flutist in the world. Her life journey, preserved in countless personal letters, press reviews and recordings, reveals the many facets of her impossible dream.
Gast details how, at age 11, Elaine walked into a music shop and requested a harmonica that "played sharps and flats." Her lifelong passion for music included learning the violin, cello, timpani and, finally, the flute. At 18, when she was self-taught on the flute, Elaine auditioned for a renowned flutist and was awarded a scholarship to a prestigious music school. Her subsequent dazzling career took her across the globe for solo performances that left audiences spellbound.
Shaffer also was awarded an honorary doctorate from Lycoming College in 1971.
The biography unfolds the incredible story of how one woman overcame grueling challenges to fulfill the life of her dreams - performing the kind of music that transported her listeners to a beautiful place.
Gast spent her formative years growing up in Williamsport, earned her bachelor's degree in education from Wheaton College in Illinois in 1949 and earned a master's degree in early childhood education from Arcadia University (then Beaver College). She taught elementary school in Scotland and moved to Philadelphia in 1954.
"Angel in Black: A Musical Life in Letters, 1925-1973," is available online through Amazon and other outlets.
The event is free and open to the public. For more information visit www.jvbrown.edu or call 326-0536.