This story is part of WABE, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and ArtsATL’s The Shaw 100th series. For more stories, click here.
A well-documented life, a massive discography and a whole archive at Yale University dedicated to Robert Shaw means making a broadcast-length documentary about the man is a monumental effort. Kiki Wilson is the executive producer of such a documentary. It’s called "Robert Shaw - Man of Many Voices."
Wilson was a member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus under Shaw, and still sings in the chorus today. She also has a Masters in choral conducting from Northwestern University.
And this film has been on her mind since 1988, when the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus performed Beethoven’s "Symphony No. 9" in East Berlin.
“The concert was unbelievable,” she said. “I came aware from that tour saying, 'This man is touching so many lives, we have to do something about it.'”
In an interview with Lois Reitzes, Wilson discussed Shaw’s dedication to civil rights, his fearless nature from not wearing shoes while golfing to bringing religious music to communist Russia, and his dedication to repeated study.
She also discussed the rigor and quality of the chorus’ members, even though the group was amateur and unpaid.
“It’s the greatest mystery,” she said. “There was something so astonishing and so essential about how we performed music with him that made you just crave the next rehearsal.”
This story is a part of The Shaw 100th initiative, a collaboration between the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, ArtsATL and WABE 90.1FM to provide multifaceted coverage of Robert Shaw’s life and legacy in celebration of what would have been his 100th birthday.