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America's most prestigious choral conductor, Robert Shaw, died on 25 January, aged 82. After early leanings towards the ministry, he was already conducting a glee club with weekly broadcasts. Success led him to his own Collegiate Chorale and the classical repertory. When Toscanini eventually heard the choir he invited Shaw to collaborate for Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

Shortly after the war he formed the Robert Shaw Chorale, essentially a touring group which travelled around the world. His career expanded to orchestral conducting, firstly with the San Diego Symphony, a valuable period as Associate to George Szell in Cleveland, then to the Atlanta Orchestra, which grew to international status during his 21 years as conductor.

From 1988 his activities spread in all directions, including many concerts and recordings with his Robert Shaw Festival Singers. Numerous honours were showered upon this supremely gifted musician, including the French Officier des Arts et des Lettres. As recently as September last he was Guest Director of a Beethoven Festival with the National Symphony.

Copyright © 31st January 1999 Basil Ramsey