The arts, he said, are not the privilege of the few, but the necessity of us all. Robert Shaw put the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra – and Chorus – on the international map. As a choral director, he was an innovator who had no equal. He singlehandedly elevated the symphonic chorus to parity with the symphonic orchestra.
Born in California in 1916, he graduated from Pomona College, where he directed the glee club. Shaw founded the Collegiate Chorale in New York at age 25 and went on to direct the choral department of the Juilliard School. He founded the Robert Shaw Chorale in 1948 and it became the foremost choral group in the world.
In 1967 he took over the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and greatly expanded the orchestra’s repertoire. Under his leadership, Atlanta developed a major American orchestra winning 16 Grammy awards. Shaw was recognized by the Kennedy Center in 1991.
The man who led a renaissance in American choral music died on January 25, 1999, Today in Georgia History.