Marian Shaffer is Principal Harpist with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and the Iris Orchestra, in residence at the Germantown Performing Arts Center. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Stephens College, graduating summa cum laude with a concentration in both harp and piano. She studied both instruments for one year at the Vienna Academy for Music and the Performing Arts and then received a Fulbright scholarship to Cologne, Germany for further study. Her principal teachers include Mimi Allen, Marjorie Tyre, Lucile Lawrence, and Hans Joachim Zingel. In 1974 she graduated from Memphis State University with an M.A. in music and German.
She has performed with the Memphis Symphony since that time, four seasons as pianist and 38 seasons as Principal Harpist. As a charter member of the Iris Orchestra, Shaffer has held the principal harp position since the orchestra’s formation in September of 2000. In 1995, Shaffer was awarded a Rockefeller cultural exchange grant to collaborate on a harp method book based on the traditional “Sones” of Mexico. In May of 2007 she toured China, giving master classes and performing at the Shanghai Conservatory and Shanghai Middle School. She also performed in the Festival Virtuosi in Recife, Brazil in December 2007 and December 2011. Shaffer is on the faculty of Vanderbilt University, University of Memphis, and the Hutchison School, and she has performed and taught at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival at the University of the South since 1980.