Posts tagged #Newport Beach International Film Festival

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.

One of Three to See at Newport Beach Film Festival

With over 350 films being screened at the 18th annual Newport Beach Film Festival, The Orange County Register, a paid daily paper in Southern California with more than 350,000 subscribers, has identified Robert Shaw - Man of Many Voices - as one of its three picks to see.

With a quote from Kiki Wilson, here's what they tell their readers about the film:

“'Robert Shaw: Man of Many Voices' (6 p.m. April 25; 8:15 p.m. April 27): This documentary about the California-born, multi-Grammy Award-winning composer Robert Shaw features interviews and commentaries from President Jimmy Carter, Walter Cronkite and Yo-Yo Ma. Co-writer, director and producer Kiki Wilson sang with Shaw’s chorus for the last 18 years of his life.

'During the last years of his life, when he was at the height of his musical intelligence and experience, Talarc (sic) Records gave him the green light to record whatever it is he wanted to record. They so trusted his artistic output and his maturity and they didn’t care about his commercial success,' Wilson said."


April 11, 2017 – Robert Shaw - Man of Many Voices has picked up the Best Documentary award at the Palm Beach International Film Festival and selected one of the Best of the Fest by the American Documentary Festival (AmDocs).

In February, the Atlanta-produced film won the Gold Award from the Los Angeles Film Review’s 2017 Independent Film Awards as well as the Best Documentary award from the Beaufort International Film Festival.

Next stop: the Newport Beach International Film Festival (April 20 -27th).

The film, about the extraordinary life of the internationally revered choral and orchestral conductor, is the first film from executive producer, Kiki Wilson. Ms. Wilson sings alto with Shaw's celebrated Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus (ASOC) and was with the chorus through many of the Shaw years.

Robert Shaw is the icon of choral music. The 16-time Grammy winner entered the world of pop music with no formal training and yet was on national broadcasts by the age of 22. With even less training, he later decided to move into classical music where in spite of all odds he conducted some of the most remarkable music performed in the 20th century. The documentary includes interviews and commentaries from, amongst others, President Jimmy Carter, Walter Cronkite, Syvia McNair and Yo-Yo Ma.

View the trailer for the film at:

Robert Shaw’s impact went beyond the musical world and into civil rights arena as well. The film explores his forays into the South with racially integrated choruses as well as his reasoning for bringing his already impressive musical influence to Atlanta in the 1960s.

Director, Peter Miller, whose films, including AKA Doc PomusJews and Baseball: An American Love Story, and Sacco and Vanzetti, have screened in cinemas and on television throughout the world. He has also been a producer on numerous landmark PBS series directed by Ken Burns and has been nominated for a Daytime Emmy for A Gift of Love: The Daniel Huffman Story.


Emmy Award winning actor, David Hyde Pierce, narrates the film from Mr. Shaw’s modest beginnings through his improbable but meteoric rise to national stardom and international acclaim. The choral world’s fascination with Robert Shaw’s techniques are only slightly matched by the music world’s celebration of the sounds he was able to create. 16 Grammy Awards plus the first classical “Gold Album”, selling more than one million copies, attest to his 60-year career.