I found out yesterday that Seattle musician and conductor George Shangrow was killed on Saturday in a car crash. He directed Orchestra Seattle and Seattle Chamber Singers for decades and was a huge presence in the music community of Seattle and Puget Sound. I only sang with OSSCS for 2 years, but in that time he took us through an incredible range of choral repertoire that included Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610; Bach's St. John Passion, cantatas, and Christmas Oratorio; Handel's Messiah (an annual event for Seattle!); Haydn's The Seasons; Mendelssohn's Elijah; Brahms's Requiem and a cappella songs; Britten's War Requiem; and works by Northwest composers like Robert Kechley. He wasn't afraid to program little-known works as well as audience favourites. His concerts always included an orchestra-only component; one of my favorite memories is listening to the orchestra float through the second movement of Rachmaninoff's 2nd Piano Concerto with Mark Salman at the keyboard. He had an infectious enthusiasm for all of the music, and an enviable ability to sketch out the shape of a piece quickly and clearly when teaching it to us. At the same time, he expected a lot from his choir and orchestra and I hope we met that expectation as often as possible.
George was also a gifted keyboardist--he frequently played in concerts around here with flautist Jeffrey Cohan and other musicians, and conducted the OSSCS Messiah performances from the harpsichord--and a generous person. He loved to host post-concert parties at his house where the choir and orchestra would sit around chatting, eating hors d'oeuvres, drinking wine and listening to the recording of that day's concert.
Farewell George, and thanks for your enthusiasm, dedication, and talent. My thoughts are with your family. We'll miss you.