Blind teen to give organ concert

Pastor’s grandson hopes to be full-time organist

Carol Wagner Leader Correspondent

Photo by Carol Wagner Isaiah Buhrke, who has been blind since birth, will play hymns and some of his own compositions Sunday at Zion Lutheran Church in Zachow.

Isaiah Buhrke has been blind since birth, but that hasn’t stopped him from becoming an accomplished musician.

The 17-year-old son of Elizabeth Buhrke, of Cedarburg, and grandson of the Rev. Rick and Rhonda Buhrke, of Cecil, will perform in concert at 2 p.m. Sunday at Zion Lutheran Church in Zachow, where his grandfather is the pastor.

“This is something I wanted to do all my life,” Isaiah said. “Play music and do concerts.”

Rhonda said Isaiah never cried in church like many babies do.

“So we took him there a lot,” she said.

His family was amazed when he began playing the music he heard in church on his toy keyboard. As he got older, they feared he lost his musical ability because they couldn’t recognize the songs he was playing.

“We realized he was playing the worship liturgy he heard each Sunday,” Rhonda said.

Isaiah now has a professional keyboard but loves to play church music on the organ, especially pipe organs.

“Any time he can get someone to take him to one of the churches, he plays the organ during worship services,” Rhonda said. “He has perfect pitch.”

This summer Isaiah worked editing Braille books, finding and correcting mistakes. He will soon be an intern at McDonald’s.

Isaiah flies a small airplane and drives the family boat with help from sighted people.

“He is persistent,” Rhonda said.

Isaiah and his cousin, Bryce Sumner, 10, were both born with Norrie Disease, an inherited eye disorder that leads to blindness in male infants at birth or soon after.

Bryce recently returned from Los Angeles, where he was one of the top 10 braillers in the United States and Canada.

“Going there opened our eyes,” Rhonda said. “Blind people will tell you that it is a good time to be blind if you have to be blind because of all the advancements in technology. Blind people can be successful at anything and can do things they couldn’t do before.”

Isaiah will be a senior at Cedarburg High School. He would like to be a full-time church organist.

“It brings people closer to church and God,” he said.


WHAT: Isaiah Buhrke concert

WHEN: 2 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Zion Lutheran Church, Zachow, N4437 County Road F, Bonduel