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