Robert Shaw, who died in January 1999, had a long and fruitful relationship with Telarc, spanning twenty years and producing 41 recordings, eleven of which received Grammy Awards. After retiring as the Music Director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in 1988, he founded the Robert Shaw Choral Institute, leading a landmark series of summer festivals in the south of France and more recently in Greenville, South Carolina. The culmination of these select workshops, attended by the finest choral singers and conductors from across the country, was a string of legendary a cappella performances by the Robert Shaw Festival Singers, all but one of which were captured on recordings by Telarc.
In July 1989, Telarc went to the tiny Church of St. Pierre in Gramat, France, to record the Robert Shaw Festival Singers after they had undergone a rigorous period of workshops and rehearsals led by Shaw. The output from those recording sessions produced one of Telarc's most legendary a cappella choral releases by Shaw: the Rachmaninoff Vespers (CD-80172), which won a Grammy Award for Best Engineered Recording. Also made during those sessions was a recording of unaccompanied choral music by Poulenc, including the Mass in G Major, various motets, and Four Short Prayers of Saint Francis (CD-80236).
Four other tracks, never released on any previous Telarc recording, were saved from those sessions. They include the Thomas Tallis If Ye Love Me and A New Commandment; and O vos omnes and O magnum mysterium by Tomás Luis da Victoria. Mr. Shaw made his final complete recording for Telarc in late 1998, just before his death in January 1999. In order to bring these never-before-released tracks to the public, Telarc has carefully chosen eight other selections, taken from previously released recordings, to make a very beautiful compilation of a cappella works by Shaw and his Festival Singers and Chamber Singers.
Along with the four new tracks are featured the settings of O magnum mysterium by American composer Morten Lauridsen and by Poulenc; a group of three American hymn tunes and spirituals arranged by Shaw/Parker, including Amazing Grace, Wondrous Love, and Sometimes I Feel Like a Moanin' Dove (one of the poignant selections sung at Mr. Shaw's memorial service); the Schubert song for male chorus Die Entfernten; a selection from the Rachmaninoff Vespers recording; and Gorecki's Totus Tuus.