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The Robert Shaw Reader Hardcover – October 11, 2004
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From the Inside Flap
"The Robert Shaw Reader is a wonderful collection of the beliefs, the frustrations, the celebrations, the analyses and philosophies of this great figure of American choral music. His profound thoughts provide a unique exploration into a brilliant yet complex musical mind. In circumstances where most choral conductors will try to convey so much through non-verbal communication, Robert Shaw was a master of the written word."--Paul Salamunovich, Music Director Emeritus of the Los Angeles Master Chorale
"I cant remember a time when I didnt know and revere Robert Shaw. The best of 20th century choral musicianship was to be found in him, and I am delighted that he now lives again in these pages for a new generation to discover and enjoy."--Peter J. Gomes, Harvard University
"A significant book--making available in print the musical insights of arguably the preeminent choral conductor America has produced."--Milburn Price, former president of the American Choral Directors Association
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Professors Blocker & Page paint vivid pictures of early years of Robert Shaw! Moving on to Chapter 2- THOUGHTS ON MUSIC, SINGING, REAHEARSAL, PERFORMANCE...we're introduced to his fascinating Choral Notes from 1970 to 1996. My favorite section is titled QUIET SINGING and COUNT-SINGING. Anyone lucky enough to sing in his rehearsals was exposed to quiet-singing (above a whisper)-- My good fortune began in Westminster Choral Workshops of 1973, 75, 77, again in 1986 Saratoga Springs, Carmina Burana & Brahms' German Requiem.
When Blocker named Shaw's absolute minimum essentials include, (as Caroline spoke to me, He has perfect rhythm; He knows the Time night or day to the minute with no clocks!) "Music is Order in Sound and Time!" Only God knows how many unique singing souls he introduced to permanent essentials ingrained in their music!
I must delve into his longest, most valued Chapter of CONDUCTING THE MASTERPIECES! Naturally he starts with Bach's B-Minor Mass and Bach's Passions of St. John and St. Matthew... Added to the longer Masterpieces we find Rachmaninoff's "The Bells" followed by "Liebeslied, Schicksalslied, Nanie" by Brahms! It seems as if anyone writing about Shaw, "Blocker could not escape temptation to include Gustav Mahler, Mozart's Mass in C Minor, Hymns and Christmas Carols, Verdi's Requiem or Poulenc's Stabat Mater!
In PREACHING THE GOSPEL(OF THE ARTS) we are graciously gifted by complete texts of 7 speeches given to Memorial Church of Harvard, Choral Societies, Atlanta Emory Lectures. I was deeply shocked to see exact text of his NPR Celebration of Bach's 200th anniversary in 1984, "Worship and the Fine Arts!"
In Chap V-CELEBRATIONS OF THE RITUALS OF LIFE we see an intimate 7 page Eulogy for Peter Harrower's Memorial Service. He was one of the great Bass-Baritones of Shaw's Atlanta Symphony Choral Performances and Premier vocal coach of GA State Music Students including my wife, Barbara in the mid-1960s!
After first perusing this lengthy biography in B/N one fine day, it took several readings for it to compare favorably with early-"Dear People." I am genuinely impressed to discover this closely intimate account, including Sir Robert's love for sung, written, and even, The Divinely Spoken Word from St. John, Chapter 1... Retired Chaplain Fred W Hood