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For George

August 2, 2010

George Shangrow

Even in the tiny, old-fashioned world of classical music, we’ve come to pay a lot of attention to “the next big thing.” The death of George Shangrow in an automobile accident on July 31st is reminder to us all that the next big thing is only a bubble on the surface of the real big thing: the millennial tradition of Western music. George’s whole life, from student days at the UW onward, was wholly devoted to that tradition. As keyboardist, conductor, teacher, lecturer, radio personality, and friend, he was so thoroughly integrated in the musical life of the Northwest as to seem not so much an individual as a crucial part of its infrastructure. There can be no question of anyone taking his place for us; he was unique and his loss is a grave one.

As his friend and colleague Peter Newman writes in his tribute on Crosscut.com: “If you wonder why Seattle has such a rich classical music scene, why we enjoy chamber music, choral concerts, opera, ballet, symphonic music — all out of proportion to the size of our community — then you have George in large part to thank for this heritage.”

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Nancy Hubbard permalink
    August 4, 2010 7:13 AM

    As a professional musician who has been lucky enough to play all over the world, never in my life had I met such a passionate brilliant musician conductor as George. I will always treasure the years in the early 1990’s when I was fortunate enough to work with him. I appreciated his calm resolve. And his childlike enthusiasm was infectious. I will miss him, the world will miss him. May you rest in peace, George.

  2. Stuart Williams permalink
    August 11, 2010 9:06 PM

    I first started attending Orchestra Seattle concerts way back in the 1970″s. In those long-gone days the concerts were held in the Broadway Performance Hall, at the Lakeside School, and in the Spanish Ballroom of the Four Seasons Hotel and Meany Hall. In those days George concentrated on the music of Purcell and Handel. He also did a great performance of John Eccles’ seldom-heard masterpiece, THE JUDGEMENT OF PARIS, which I have never heard performed elsewhere, but which I shall never forget. I had heard very little of this music, so the concerts came as a great revelation to me, and I still recall them fondly as being among the highlights of my many years of listening to great music. Then in later years George did several performances of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Beethoven’s Ninth, Handel’s ALEXANDER’S FEAST, and various works by Mozart. All wonderful, wonderful. To George I owe a great debt for many, many hours of sublime experiences. How shall we ever replace him? We shall not see his like again in Seattle.

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