Robert Lawton Shaw (1916-1999) was a choral director and conductor of historic influence. Known as the “Dean of American choral conductors,” Shaw’s innovations and achievements raised the standard of choral singing. The Canterbury Choral Society rendition of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion on March 5 will feature Shaw’s own English-language translation of the work. In doing this, Canterbury honors Shaw’s birth centennial as well as his belief that “in all great song, spirit is no less resident in musical detail than it is in text.”
As a vigorous and enthusiastic participant in New York City’s cultural community, Canterbury Choral Society occasionally receives invitations to join other choruses in their concerts and special events. On February 9, 2017, members of Canterbury will join MasterVoices and other invited choral organizations in a performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. John Passion in New York’s Carnegie Hall. The event will highlight a 75th-anniversary season celebration for MasterVoices, which was founded (as The Collegiate Chorale) in 1941 by the great Robert Shaw, and led by him until 1953. As was the practice during Shaw’s tenure, the audience will be invited to join the singers during the chorale portions of the Passion.