Posts tagged #ASO

L.A. Beat's Film Review. That Last Paragraph. Wow!

This just in folks. A review of Robert Shaw - Man of Many Voices in the L.A. Beat.

‘Robert Shaw: Man of Many Voices’ to Screen at Newport Beach Film Festival April 25 and 27

Posted on April 22, 2017 by James Eliopulos

In 1994, at the 65th Annual Academy Awards presentation, upon receiving the Oscar for
the Best Song, ‘Streets of Philadelphia’, Bruce Springsteen delivered the finest acceptance speech that event has ever experienced: ‘You do your best work, and you hope that it pulls out the best in your audience and some of the pieces of it spill over into the real world, and into peoples everyday lives; that it takes the edge off of fear, and allows us to recognize each other through the veil of our differences.’

I don’t know if Springsteen ever met Robert Shaw but in those 56 words he summarized the life of that brilliant artist and human being shown so eloquently and beautifully in the 71 minute film ‘Robert Shaw: Man of Many Voices’ screening twice next week at the Newport Beach Film Festival, taking place at various venues around that city and at the Segerstrom Center in Costa Mesa. 

A self taught master, Shaw studied religion at Pomona College with an eye towards following his fathers footsteps as a minister. After his graduation in 1938 the hardships of Great Depression and his fathers debilitating illness forced Shaw to rethink his plans and accept an offer he had previously rejected (to come to New York and create a chorus at NBC Radio Studios) from nationally famous bandleader and radio personality (and owner of the company that produced the kitchen implement later memorialized in Warren Zevon’s ‘Poor, Poor Pitiful Me’!) Fred Waring. In that setting Shaw’s untutored brilliance quickly propelled him into the national spotlight and his vocal ensemble would perform 500 live shows in a year and see him deliver the largest audience for a radio program in that medium’s history.

For Shaw, that was only the beginning. With a social circle that included Orson Wells, Charlie Chaplin, Martha Graham, Arturo Toscanini and Dylan Thomas (Shaw was a regular at New York’s famous White Horse Tavern and was drinking with Thomas the week the poet died) Shaw became as respected for his talent and art as any of that crowd. He outlived them all, and arguably touched more lives in live performance than any of them.

After transitioning under the guidance of Arturo Toscanini and George Szell from being a purely choral conductor to leading full orchestras, Shaw was asked to lead the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, which he built into one of the world’s great performing ensembles. Shaw conducted the Atlanta Symphony at the great concert halls around the United States and around the world. The importance of art as a tool for building bridges is told wonderfully in vignettes about performing with an integrated chorus in the segregated south, playing Bach’s Mass in Bm in Leningrad during the Cuban Missile Crisis and bringing an American orchestra to offer up Beethoven’s 9th Symphony to a teary eyed audience in East Berlin. It was under Shaw’s direction in 1978 that the ASO presented the first digitally recorded classical performance – Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite.

In Robert Shaw: Man of Many Voices we are taken on a journey not only into the life of one of the greatest artists of his or any age, we are given an eloquent and simple understanding of the meaning and purpose of art: ‘Art binds people together at their own eventual best, their own eventual goodness . . . (and) builds a tolerance for other human beings that is essential to a civilization.’ Sound familiar?

With a magical pacing that not only keeps the story compelling, but does so while maintaining an exquisite resonance with the forms in which Shaw did his finest work, ‘Robert Shaw’ delivers a heartfelt message about art in service to, and as an expression of, the very best of what humanity is capable. In Shaw’s time, a time of economic hardship, war, segregation and the divisiveness those forces can bring to human relationships (sound familiar?) he saw the performance of the worlds greatest classical pieces as providing his audiences with ‘ . . . a consanguinity. As soon as we find one another (in making or experiencing art) we also then invite the miracle.’

In the very best tradition of documentary filmmaking, Robert Shaw: Man of Many Voices, not only illuminates an important human being and his era, it illuminates what is important today and tomorrow and forever – if we are fortunate enough to continue the human experiment. Whether you are an artist working in any media — or if you simply love art – I’m betting you will find this film a meaningful, inspiring and life affirming work.

Robert Shaw and bassist Jane Little - history moves on.

In international news, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra bassist Jane Little died in concert last week. The New York Times ran a lengthy obituary which included multiple photographs including one with Robert Shaw and her that ran in a 1960s magazine issue.

These two alone make quite an impressionable history. There must be something magical in that music that has been the ASO's for such a long time.

Here's the article ...

Posted on May 23, 2016 .

Welcome to April. The month of Shaw!

It's started, folks. The month of April and the celebration of what would have been Robert Shaw's 100th birthday. That birth date is the 30th of this spring month and like all blooms and blossoms busting out all around you, you'll be seeing/hearing/experiencing loads of great and interesting and beautiful things.

Just today, the ASO (Atlanta Symphony Orchestra), WABE and ArtsATL announced their particular schedule of celebration activities which includes the premiere of our documentary on the 24th.

I think there's more than an excellent chance you'll find something in this line-up to excite your spirit and conjure up some of the man's enduring legacy...

Conversations on City Lights:
March 30:  Lois Reitzes kicked things off with a personal interview, sharing her memories of Mr. Shaw. 
March 31:  Melissa Arasi, Voices of Note 
April 1:  John Haberlen, GSU School of Music
April 6:  Laura Ardan, Principal Clarinet, ASO
April 11: Norman Mackenzie, Director of Choruses, ASO “Shaw Close Listening”
April 18: Kiki Wilson, Producer, Robert Shaw Documentary
April 22: Joyce Johnson, Professor Emerita of Music and College Organist at Spelman College.

April 12: ASO Chorus Feature Story
April 15: Review of Brahms’ Requiem and Leshnoff’s Zohar
April 26: Behind the scenes, the road to Carnegie Hall
May 2: Carnegie Hall review

April 3: First a capella concert by Atlanta Symphony Chamber Chorus, Rachmaninov All-Night Vigil (“Vespers”)
April 14: Atlanta ASO Media release of Robert Shaw’s last concert in 1988, Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 – Symphony Store
April 14/16: Robert Spano Leads Brahms’ Requiem and Jonathan Leshnoff’s Zohar at Symphony Hall
April 24: Atlanta premiere of the documentary film Robert Shaw: Man of Many Voices 
April 29: National Release of Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 
April 30: Robert Spano Leads Brahms’ Requiem and Jonathan Leshnoff’s Zohar at Carnegie Hall