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FW: Robert Shaw's Official Obituary

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  • Paul Sinasohn
    maybe not strictly acappella, but Robert Shaw played a major role in american singing!! I sang with him for 3 years - it was a fantastic experience. He will be
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 25, 1999
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      maybe not strictly acappella, but Robert Shaw played a major role in
      american singing!!

      I sang with him for 3 years - it was a fantastic experience.

      He will be sorely missed.

      Thanks for riding on my train of thought!
      Paul Sinasohn Bass, Press Any Key

      CASA Arrangement Librarian Cal '80 SF Native
      Instructor/Curriculum Developer, Siebel Systems
      vox: 510-594-6153 fax: 510-594-6128
      There's a fine line between a groove and a rut - where are you running

      -----Original Message-----
      From: owner-choralist@...
      Sent: Monday, January 25, 1999 9:07 AM
      To: choralist@...; choraltalk@...;
      Subject: Robert Shaw's Official Obituary

      The musical world has lost one of it's favorite conductors. I've been
      asked by the office of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra to post the
      following official obituary to ChoralNet.
      January 25, 1999

      Robert Shaw, Music Director Emeritus and Conductor Laureate of the
      Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, died at 2:05 AM today at the age of 82.
      He was at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, on Saturday to
      see the play Endgame, which was his son Thomas's senior directing and
      acting project, when he suffered a massive stroke.

      Renowned as America's greatest conductor of choral music, Mr. Shaw
      came to Atlanta in 1967 to become Music Director and Conductor of the
      Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. During his 21 years in that capacity, the
      ASO grew from a part-time, part-year regional ensemble to become a
      full-time, year- round orchestra, recognized internationally for its
      excellence. He led it on tours across the United States, including a
      1971 Carnegie Hall debut that became the first of many ASO appearances
      in that prestigious space. He took the ASO and its Chorus to
      Washington in 1977 to perform at the Inaugural Concert for
      President-elect Jimmy Carter, and he led both ensembles on an
      acclaimed concert tour of Europe in 1988.

      The 200-voice Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus and the smaller ASO
      Chamber Chorus were his creations. Both were trained to the
      perfection he demanded and continue to be an important part of the
      ASO's musical programs -- at home in Atlanta on a regular basis and
      occasionally on tour as well. The excellence of the ASO Chorus under
      his direction has been recognized by six Grammy awards for Best Choral
      performance and by the Georgia Governor's Award in the Arts.

      Retirement as the ASO's Music Director in 1988 did not bring any
      lessening of Mr. Shaw's musical activities. As he cut back on his ASO
      conducting appearances, he was freed to accept more guest engagements
      and to focus on realizing a cherished dream, the Robert Shaw Choral
      Institute. Concentrating, for the first time in 21 years, on choral
      literature without orchestral accompaniment, he conducted a landmark
      series of summer festivals in the south of France (and more recently
      in Greenville, South Carolina) and made a number of recordings with
      his Robert Shaw Festival Singers. In Atlanta his Robert Shaw Chamber
      Singers gave an acclaimed series of concerts at Spivey Hall and also
      made recordings.

      Another remarkable development of recent years was Mr. Shaw's
      association with New York's Carnegie Hall, whose annual Robert Shaw
      Choral Workshops drew choral directors and singers from across the
      nation for week-long sessions of preparation and study, culminating in
      performances received with both acclaim and affection. His many other
      Carnegie Hall concerts included a performance of Handel's Messiah on
      the 250th anniversary of the work's premiere and, on his own 80th
      birthday, performances of Mahler's Symphony No. 8 with the Cleveland
      Orchestra and Chorus, the ASO Chorus and other choral groups. With
      singers both on stage and ranged around the hall in two tiers of box
      seats, the number of performers came close to equaling that of the

      Robert Lawson Shaw was born in Red Bluff, California, on April 30,
      1916. As he liked to remind listeners at his frequent speaking
      engagements, he came from a line of evangelical preachers, and the
      family often sang gospel hymns around his mother's piano. Destined
      for the ministry himself, he majored in religion and philosophy at
      Pomona College. He was also a student conductor of the college's glee
      club, which brought him to the attention of radio entertainer Fred
      Waring. Waring brought the young Shaw to New York and assigned him to
      form and conduct the Fred Waring Glee Club in weekly broadcasts.

      Finding his Waring-related activities dealing almost exclusively with
      popular music, Mr. Shaw began looking for a classical outlet. In 1941
      he formed the Collegiate Chorale, an all-volunteer chorus. Quickly
      noticed for its high standards and its racially integrated membership
      ("a melting pot that sings"), the group not only sang traditional
      masterpieces, but also worked with living composers, presenting
      premiere performances of many new works. The Chorale eventually came
      to the notice of Arturo Toscanini, revered conductor of the NBC
      Symphony, who invited it to perform Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with
      his orchestra. After attending a Shaw rehearsal, Toscanini remarked,
      "I have at last found the maestro I have been looking for."

      In 1949 he formed the Robert Shaw Chorale, which for two decades
      reigned as America's premier touring choral group and was sent by the
      U.S. State Department to 30 countries in Europe, the Soviet Union, the
      Middle East, and Latin America. The Shaw Chorale began recording as
      the chorus for opera recordings and then branched out with numerous LP
      records of its own, in music ranging from Broadway and folk favorites
      to the great milestones of the classical choral literature. With
      these recordings, Mr. Shaw won the first four of his 14 Grammy
      awards. During this period, he also worked to perfect his orchestral
      conducting, serving as Music Director of the San Diego Symphony for
      four years and then as Associate Conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra,
      working closely with George Szell for eleven years before accepting
      his appointment with the Atlanta Symphony.

      Throughout his career, Mr. Shaw received abundant recognition for his
      work. His honors include degrees and citations from 40 U.S. colleges
      and universities, England's Gramophone Award, a Gold Record for the
      first RCA classical recording to sell more than a million copies, four
      ASCAP Awards for service to contemporary music, the first Guggenheim
      Fellowship ever awarded to a conductor, the Alice M. Ditson Award for
      service to contemporary music, the George Peabody Medal for
      outstanding contributions to music in America, and the Gold Baton
      Award of the American Symphony Orchestra League for distinguished
      service to music and the arts.

      He was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the National Council on
      the Arts, and he was a 1991 recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors,
      the nation's highest honor to artists "who, through a lifetime of
      accomplishment, have enriched American life by their achievement in
      the performing arts." The following year he was awarded the National
      Medal of Arts in a White House ceremony. He was the 1993 recipient of
      the Conductors' Guild Theodore Thomas Award, in recognition of
      outstanding life achievement in conducting as well as his
      contributions to the education and training of young conductors. In
      1997, the French government awarded him its medal as "Officier des
      Arts et des Lettres."

      Last September, Mr. Shaw was Guest Artistic Director at the Kennedy
      Center for the National Symphony Orchestra's two-week Beethoven
      Festival, leading performances of the Missa solemnis, Choral Fantasy
      and Ninth Symphony. Immediately thereafter, he was called to step in
      for the ailing Seiji Ozawa to conduct the Ninth Symphony for the gala
      opening concert of the Boston Symphony's season. In October he was
      inducted in the American Classical Music Hall of Fame.

      Mr. Shaw is survived by his sister, Mrs. Harrison Price of San Pedro,
      California; his brother, John Shaw of Baldwin Park, California; his
      children, Dr. Johanna Shaw of Providence, Rhode Island, and Nantucket,
      Massachusetts; Peter Thain Shaw of Portland, Oregon; John Thaddeus
      Shaw of Lathrop, California; Thomas Lawson Shaw of Atlanta and Yale
      University; and stepson Alexander Crawford Hitz of Atlanta and New
      York City.

      There will be a private graveside service, and the family will receive
      friends and well-wishers on Thursday afternoon, January 28, from 4:00
      to 6:00 PM, at H. M. Patterson & Son, Spring Hill. The ASO will host
      a public celebration of his life and legacy in Atlanta Symphony Hall
      this Friday at 2:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, the family requests
      memorial contributions to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and/or
      Carnegie Hall.

      For further information, please contact
      Charlie Wade
      Vice President for Marketing and Communications, Atlanta Symphony
      fax 404-733-4999

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