Robert Lawson Shaw (30 April 1916 –25 January 1999) was an American conductor most famous for his work with his namesake Chorale, with the Cleveland Orchestra and Chorus, and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. He was known for drawing public attention to choral music through his wide ranging influences and mentoring of younger conductors, the high standard of his recordings, his support for racial integration in his choruses, and his support for modern music, winning many awards throughout his career.
Conducting is the art of directing a musical performance, such as an orchestral or choral concert. It has been defined as "the art of directing the simultaneous performance of several players or singers by the use of gesture." The primary duties of the conductor are to interpret the score in a way which reflects the specific indications in that score, set the tempo, ensure correct entries by ensemble members, and "shape" the phrasing where appropriate. Conductors communicate with their musicians primarily through hand gestures, usually with the aid of a baton, and may use other gestures or signals such as eye contact. A conductor usually supplements their direction with verbal instructions to their musicians in rehearsal.
The Robert Shaw Chorale was a renowned professional choir founded in New York City in 1948 by Robert Shaw, a Californian who had been drafted out of college a decade earlier by Fred Waring to conduct his glee club in radio broadcasts. The Chorale enjoyed an intermittent existence, being formed and re-formed on an ad hoc basis for national and international tours and several RCA Victor recordings, its personnel count ranging from around thirty to around sixty voices depending on repertoire requirements. The Chorale ceased operations permanently in 1965, shortly before Shaw assumed the post of Music Director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. During its existence the Robert Shaw Chorale became arguably the best-known and most widely respected professional choral organization in the United States, with repertoire ranging from J.S. Bach to folk music and Broadway theatre tunes. The group's album recording "Christmas Hymns And Carols" released in November 1957 was certified gold in August 1964 by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). This recording peaked at #5 on Billboard's Top Pop Album Chart. The group made several tours sponsored by the U.S. State Department as part of a cultural exchange program, including 21 European and Mid-eastern countries in 1956; South America; and in 1962, a seven-week tour of Russia.
The Cleveland Orchestra, based in Cleveland, is one of the five American orchestras informally referred to as the "Big Five". Founded in 1918 by the pianist and impresario Adella Prentiss Hughes, the orchestra plays most of its concerts at Severance Hall. As of 2017, the incumbent music director is Franz Welser-Möst.
Shaw was born in Red Bluff, California.His father, Rev. Shirley R. Shaw, was a minister, and his mother was a concert singer. He had four siblings, one of whom was singer Hollace Shaw. He graduated from Pomona College in the class of 1938. Shortly afterward, Shaw was hired by popular band leader Fred Waring to recruit and train a glee club that would sing with the band.
Red Bluff is a city in and the county seat of Tehama County, California, United States. The population was 14,076 at the 2010 census, up from 13,147 at the 2000 census.
Hollace Shaw was a coloratura soprano who performed on old-time radio and on the stage.
Pomona College is a private liberal arts college in Claremont, California. It was founded in 1887 by a group of Congregationalists who wanted to recreate a "college of the New England type" in Southern California, and in the 1920s, it became the founding member of the Claremont Colleges consortium.
In 1941, Shaw founded the Collegiate Chorale, a group notable in its day for its racial integration.In 1948, the group performed Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the NBC Symphony and Arturo Toscanini, who famously remarked, "In Robert Shaw I have at last found the maestro I have been looking for." Shaw continued to prepare choirs for Toscanini until March 1954, when they sang in Te Deum by Verdi and the prologue to Mefistofele by Boito. Shaw's choirs participated in the NBC broadcast performances of three Verdi operas: Aida , Falstaff and A Masked Ball , all conducted by Toscanini, with soprano Herva Nelli. They can be seen on the home videos of the telecasts of Aida (from 1949) and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (from April 1948), also conducted by Toscanini. Shaw himself took a bow at the end of the Beethoven telecast.
Racial integration, or simply integration, includes desegregation. In addition to desegregation, integration includes goals such as leveling barriers to association, creating equal opportunity regardless of race, and the development of a culture that draws on diverse traditions, rather than merely bringing a racial minority into the majority culture. Desegregation is largely a legal matter, integration largely a social one.
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the classical and romantic eras in classical music, he remains one of the most recognized and influential musicians of this period, and is considered to be one of the greatest composers of all time.
The Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125, also known as Beethoven's 9th, is the final complete symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven, composed between 1822 and 1824. It was first performed in Vienna on 7 May 1824. One of the best-known works in common practice music, it is regarded by many critics and musicologists as one of Beethoven's greatest works and one of the supreme achievements in the history of western music. In the 2010s, it stands as one of the most performed symphonies in the world.
Shaw was also Charles F. Shaw's second cousin and often vacationed at his winery in Napa Valley. He went on to found the Robert Shaw Chorale in 1948, a group which produced numerous recordings on RCA Victor up until his appointment in Atlanta. The Chorale visited 30 countries in tours sponsored by the U.S. State Department. Shaw was named music director of the San Diego Symphony in 1953 and served in that post for four years. Only after his San Diego tenure did he become an apprentice again, studying the art of conducting with George Szell and serving as his assistant at the Cleveland Orchestra for eleven seasons. He also took over the fledgling Cleveland Orchestra Chorus and fine-tuned it into one of the finest all-volunteer choral ensembles sponsored by an American symphony orchestra. While in Cleveland, Shaw was also the choral director at the First Unitarian Church of Cleveland where he led a community music program.
Charles F. Shaw is an American businessman and former winery owner whose name is used for Charles Shaw wine, a brand of inexpensive table wines.
The United States Department of State (DOS), commonly referred to as the State Department, is a federal executive department that is equivalent to the foreign ministry of other countries, advising the U.S. President on foreign policy and conducting international relations. It was established in 1789 as the nation's first executive department.
The San Diego Symphony is an American symphony orchestra, based in San Diego, California. The orchestra is resident at Copley Symphony Hall. The orchestra also serves as the orchestra for San Diego Opera.
From 1967 to 1988 Shaw was music director and conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.In 1970, he founded the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus and worked to recreate the success he had had for Cleveland in preparing them for performances and recordings with their namesake symphony orchestra.
A music director, musical director, or director of music is the person responsible for the musical aspects of a performance, production, or organization, for example the artistic director and usually chief conductor of an orchestra or concert band, the director of music of a film, the director of music at a radio station, the person in charge of musical activities or the head of the music department in a school, the coordinator of the musical ensembles in a university, college, or institution, the head bandmaster of a military band, the head organist and choirmaster of a church, or an organist and master of the choristers.
On 30 April 1972, Shaw conducted a massed 640 voice chorus made up of auditioned university choirs from 16 different countries invited to the Third International Choral Festivalto perform at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, New York after a two week concert tour of USA university campuses. A recording was made of the festival concert. During their tour, on the eve of the breaking of the Watergate Scandal, the choirs also performed before First Lady Pat Nixon, at the White House, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the United Nations.
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts is a 16.3-acre (6.6-hectare) complex of buildings in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of the borough of Manhattan in New York City. It hosts many notable performing arts organizations, which are nationally and internationally renowned, including the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Ballet and the New York City Opera.
The First Lady of the United States (FLOTUS) is the title held by the hostess of the White House, usually the wife of the President of the United States, concurrent with the President's term in office. Although the First Lady's role has never been codified or officially defined, she figures prominently in the political and social life of the nation. Since the early 20th century, the First Lady has been assisted by official staff, now known as the Office of the First Lady and headquartered in the East Wing of the White House.
Thelma Catherine "Pat" Nixon, also commonly known as Patricia Nixon, was an American educator and the wife of Richard Nixon, the 37th President of the United States. During her more than 30 years in public life, she served as both the Second (1953–1961) and First Lady of the United States (1969–1974).
After stepping down from his Atlanta post in 1988, Shaw continued to conduct the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra as its Music Director Emeritus and Conductor Laureate, was a regular guest conductor with other orchestras including Cleveland, and taught in a series of summer festivals and week-long Carnegie Hall workshops for choral conductors and singers. He died in 1999, in New Haven, Connecticut following a stroke, aged 82.
During his long career, Shaw drew attention to choral music and came to be considered the "dean" of American choral conductors, mentoring a number of younger conductors—including Jameson Marvin, Margaret Hillis, Maurice Casey, Ken Clinton, Donald Neuen, Ann Howard Jones, and current Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus and Chamber Chorus director Norman Mackenzie — and inspiring thousands of singers with whom he worked around the United States. His work set new choral standards in the United States, and many of his recordings are considered benchmarks for choral singing.
Although his formative years and much of his work occurred before the rise of mainstream interest in informed historic performance practice, his recordings, reflecting his insistence that clearly projected texts serve as the foundation for musical interpretation, do not sound dated in comparison to more modern efforts by frequently smaller forces. He created techniques and approaches still in use today.
Shaw was a champion of modern music from the beginning of his career. He commissioned a requiem for Franklin D. Roosevelt from the newly naturalized German-born composer Paul Hindemith, who responded with When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd , a setting of Walt Whitman's poem commemorating the death of Abraham Lincoln. Shaw led the premiere of the work in 1946 with the Collegiate Chorale and continued to champion the work well into the last decade of his life;in 1996 he conducted a 50th anniversary performance at Yale University, where Hindemith was a professor when he wrote the work. In 1998 Yale also awarded Shaw an honorary doctorate. He was also a recipient of Yale's Sanford Medal. Shaw also received the University of Pennsylvania Glee Club Award of Merit in honor of his vast influence on male choral music. He was a National Patron of Delta Omicron, an international professional music fraternity.
Although noted in classical repertoire, Shaw hardly limited himself to that genre. The 104 recording credits on his discographyalso include recordings of sea shanties, glee club songs, sacred music and spirituals, musical theater numbers, Irish folk tunes, and, most notably, Christmas albums that have remained bestsellers ever since their release. Under Shaw, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra made its first recordings, beginning with a 2-LP album set called Nativity in 1976, based on the annual Christmas concerts that Shaw performed in Atlanta beginning in 1970. For Telarc he recorded several digital remakes of the Christmas albums he had previously recorded for RCA Victor, including The Many Moods of Christmas . Shaw collaborated with noted choral composer and conductor Alice Parker (a former student of Shaw's at the Juilliard School) on arrangements of folksongs, hymns, spirituals, and Christmas music that remain popular with choruses today.
Shaw recorded for a variety of labels, beginning with a single record for American Decca and numerous releases on RCA Victor during the 78 rpm era. During the 1950s and 1960s, Shaw and his Chorale made many LP's for RCA Victor Red Seal Records. From 1977 onward, most of his recordings appeared on the Telarc label. For that company he led not only the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus but also the Robert Shaw Chamber Singers, which drew its personnel largely from the Atlanta Symphony Chamber Chorus, and the Robert Shaw Festival Singers, a group assembled for Shaw's summer choral workshops in France. His last recording was for Telarc of Dvořák's Stabat Mater with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, chorus, and soloists.
Shaw recorded many of the great choral-orchestral works more than once, and his performances of Handel's Messiah , J.S. Bach's Mass in B minor , Beethoven's Missa Solemnis , Orff's Carmina Burana , Verdi's Requiem , and other similar masterworks remain highly regarded. In a move toward historically informed performance, Shaw's first recording of Messiah, in 1966, used a chorus of only thirty-one singers.
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) is an American orchestra based in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Robert Spano has been its music director since 2001. The ASO's main concert venue is Atlanta Symphony Hall in the Woodruff Arts Center.
Arturo Toscanini was an Italian conductor. He was one of the most acclaimed musicians of the late 19th and of the 20th century, renowned for his intensity, his perfectionism, his ear for orchestral detail and sonority, and his eidetic memory. He was at various times the music director of La Scala in Milan, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and the New York Philharmonic. Later in his career he was appointed the first music director of the NBC Symphony Orchestra (1937–54), and this led to his becoming a household name through his radio and television broadcasts and many recordings of the operatic and symphonic repertoire.
Eugene Ormandy was a Hungarian-American conductor and violinist, best known for his association with the Philadelphia Orchestra, as its music director. The maestro's 44-year association with the orchestra is one of the longest enjoyed by any conductor with a single orchestra. Under his baton, the Philadelphia Orchestra had three gold records and won two Grammy Awards.
The Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance has been awarded since 1961. There have been several minor changes to the name of the award over this time:
The Grammy Award for Best Classical Album was awarded from 1962 to 2011. The award had several minor name changes:
The Grammy Award for Best Engineered Recording, Classical has been awarded since 1959. The award had several minor name changes:
The Baltimore Choral Arts Society is a music organization in Baltimore, Maryland that manages a full orchestra, a chorus and a chamber chorus. The Baltimore Choral Arts Society, now in its 50th season, is one of Maryland's premier cultural institutions. The Symphonic Chorus, Full Chorus, Orchestra, and Chamber Chorus perform throughout the mid-Atlantic region, as well as in Washington, D.C., New York, and in Europe. Performance venues include the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore, as well as Goucher College's Kraushaar Auditorium. The Society has collaborated with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Washington Chamber Symphony, Peter Schickele, pianist and scholar Robert Levin, Chanticleer, Dave Brubeck, and the King's Singers.
Jeffrey Douma is the Director of the Yale Glee Club and a Professor of Choral Conducting at the Yale School of Music. He is the founding Director of the Yale Choral Artists and serves as Artistic Director of the Yale International Choral Festival.
Margaret Eleanor Hillis was an American conductor. She was the founder and first director of the Chicago Symphony Chorus.
Robert Spano is an American conductor and pianist. Since 2001 he has been Music Director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO), and he served as Music Director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic from 1996 to 2004. He is the Music Director of the Aspen Music Festival and School, beginning full-time responsibilities in the 2012 season.
Dr. Brady Allred is an American conductor of choral and orchestral music who currently serves as the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Salt Lake Choral Artists, a regional choir organization with five choirs with a total of approximately 350 singers.
Jefferson Johnson is Director of Choral Activities at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky where he conducts the UK Chorale and UK Men's Chorus. He also teaches advanced choral conducting, choral methods and literature, and directs the graduate program in choral music. A native of Atlanta, he received the Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Georgia, the Master of Music from the University of Tennessee (1981), and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Colorado (1992). While living in Atlanta, he was also a member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus and Chamber Chorus conducted by Robert Shaw.
Stephen Paulus was a Grammy winning American composer, best known for his operas and choral music. His best-known piece is his 1982 opera The Postman Always Rings Twice, one of several operas he composed for the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, which prompted The New York Times to call him "a young man on the road to big things". His style is essentially tonal, and melodic and romantic by nature. He received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and Guggenheim Foundation and won the prestigious Kennedy Center Friedheim Prize. He was commissioned by such notable organizations as the Minnesota Opera, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus, the American Composers Orchestra, the Dale Warland Singers, the Harvard Glee Club and the New York Choral Society. Paulus was a passionate advocate for the works and careers of his colleagues. He co-founded the American Composers Forum in 1973, the largest composer service organization in the U.S., and served as the Symphony and Concert Representative on the ASCAP Board of Directors from 1990 until his death in 2014.
Florence Kopleff was an American contralto.
The Many Moods of Christmas is 1963 LP of eighteen Christmas carols conducted by Robert Shaw, grouped into four suites. The carols were arranged for chorus and orchestra by famed Broadway orchestrator Robert Russell Bennett.
Donald Neuen is an American choral conductor, composer, arranger, editor, and educator who was formerly the Distinguished Professor of Conducting and Director of Choral Activities at the University of California, Los Angeles. He conducted the UCLA Chorale while teaching courses in conducting and directing one of the most respected graduate programs in choral conducting in the United States. He was 80 years old when he retired.
The Requiem in C minor for mixed chorus was written by Luigi Cherubini in 1816 and premiered 21 January 1817 at a commemoration service for Louis XVI of France on the twenty-third anniversary of his beheading during the French Revolution.
A. Duain Wolfe is an American choral conductor, founder of the Colorado Symphony Chorus and the Colorado Children's Chorale. He is the current chorus director and conductor of the Chicago Symphony Chorus and a past president of Chorus America.
The Missa Brevis by Leonard Bernstein is a musical setting of parts of the mass ordinary in Latin for a mixed a cappella choir with countertenor solo and percussion. It is also Bernstein's last complete choral work, due to his death a year after its completion in 1989.
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