George Shangrow – rest in peace

I usually keep my entries in this blog focused on business, but for once I must break my own rule.

Today I learned of the untimely passing of George Shangrow, gifted Seattle musician and conductor. He was killed yesterday in a car crash on Highway 20 near Winthrop, in a driving rainstorm. He was only 59.

Many of my current friends and colleagues may not know this, but I began my career as a professional musician. After leaving music for the business world, I continued to pursue my music after work. I was privileged to perform many times with George and Orchestra Seattle/Seattle Chamber Singers. I worked with many other conductors in the Seattle area, too, and George was by far the best. He was so incredibly gifted that the rest of us had to scramble to keep up with him. He needed to be reminded occasionally that we needed a little more rehearsal than he did. Highly intelligent, George was also an incredible character. Working with him was a truly unique, challenging and entertaining experience

One of my most treasured memories was a performance of Mendelssohn’s Elijah. There is one movement that ends with a long decrescendo, slowly trailing off into hushed silence. George conducted it perfectly and the choir and orchestra followed. We froze at the end, as all good performers will, to prolong the effect. For a fraction of a second, the silence held. Then we heard it – an audible snore. We all choked – silently. I was in the choir, facing George. The look on his face as he attempted to maintain control was utterly priceless. I will never forget it. And I will never forget George.

My deepest condolences to his family and friends! Go with God, George. You will be missed.

Margaret Wright Purvine
Cellist & Mezzo Soprano, OS/SCS in the 1990′s

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