Remembering George Shangrow

A friend pays tribute to a mighty and unstoppable force for music in Seattle.
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George Shangrow, conductor and musical dynamo

A friend pays tribute to a mighty and unstoppable force for music in Seattle.

There is a big hole in the Seattle-area music community. Our friend and colleague George Shangrow did so many things and so many things well that he couldn'ꀙt help but touch many of us who care about music, community service, and communicating the joy of art to the public.

He was on his way to give a lecture at a music festival when a traffic accident claimed his life. How like George. It seems he was born to be on a mission. At the podium, on the radio, speaking to the public — it was all part of the same impulse to make classical music relevant and entertaining.

In the late 1980'ꀙs George was a frequent guest on the air at KING-FM, where I have long worked. I did many interviews with George. He would talk about an upcoming concert, a new recording or an old chestnut in the music library. It didn'ꀙt take a great leap of judgment to conclude that George should be conducting the interviews. Over the years he hosted and promoted local musicians, visiting artists, recent recordings to the KING music library, and live broadcasts. All this while continuing to lead Orchestra Seattle and the Seattle Chamber Singers, to guest-conduct other ensembles, to play the harpsichord, and to serve as music director at University Unitarian Church. Somewhere there is a George Shangrow clock that has 25 hours in a day.

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.

He will be greatly missed because he was George and because there is so much more music that is waiting for us to explore and love.


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