American Masters-Robert Shaw
By Rey Lambatin, Choir Director
I love watching PBS. I especially love the American Masters series where they feature in-depth and comprehensive biographies about the broad cast of characters who comprise our cultural history. I’ve always been fascinated watching documentaries, and learning facts about people, places, and our environment. In a way, it’s my own version of “reality show” draw, only the characters are more widely relevant to our culture and educational development. In one of these American Masters episodes, Robert Shaw was featured.
Robert Shaw is one of the well-known musicians in the choral community whom I truly admire and admittedly aspire to be. He is regarded as one of America’s greatest choral music conductors. With no formal training, Robert Shaw was legendary for his interpretations of classical music’s choral masterpieces and inspired generations of musicians with the power of music. And as I watch the documentary, I can’t help but be more inspired and be in awe of the man, that even with humble and challenging beginnings, rose to be the director of Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus for two decades, from 1967 to 1988. His love and passion for music and his craft is very apparent with the way he connected to the people he worked with. I’m particularly touched to learn that he used to write letters to his choir singers after every rehearsal, thanking them, and letting them know how his singers inspire him to create beautiful music. He is also instrumental in using music to bridge and connect with the African-American community in Atlanta, by hiring T. J. Anderson as the first African-American resident composer for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
This is one of the things I aspire for our choirs here at CGS - to use music to bridge gaps between our differences, cultures, and religious backgrounds, and to be able to sing in unity to worship our God, and help and serve each other. I hope to continue to use Mr. Shaw’s legacy as an inspiration, to effectively carry on the healing and unifying power of music in our choral ministry.
Christ the Good Shepherd
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