MUSICAL FAMILY, MUSICAL FRIENDS
One can only imagine the Shaw household being filled with music. Juliet, a well known concert pianist and teacher. Ray, a piano player with a penchant for singing. Sandra and Karen, each playing piano as children, then continuing on to distinguish themselves as superb musicians.
Silvermine was much more. Once Juliet established Sasqua Hills, and later, the Silvermine School of Music, what was a family home became a proving ground for young, aspiring musicians. Add to that season after season of acclaimed musical programs. Friends of the family repeatedly describe the household as a bustling, vibrant haven for the best in music, as well as a popular bastion of social gatherings and cultural events.
Raymond and Juliet
While interviewing Sandra, she wistfully described her parent’s courtship and marriage. She also related that, during this period, her father composed a love song for Juliet and sang it frequently through the years. Often, there were evenings during which the couple played and sang. Early recordings confirm this fact, as well as being a testament to times when everyone in the family made music together.
A graduate of Hollins College and Juilliard, Sandra was first trained by her mother, then went on to study piano with some of the most prestigious teachers of her day, eventually becoming a teacher herself. As the Director of the Silvermine School of Music from 1958 right up to the present day, Sandra continues to teach students. The music programming she presents carries on Silvermine’s decades-long tradition of excellence.
Sandra also served for half a century as the Music Director of Greenfield Hill Congregational Church in Fairfield, CT.
She remains a fervent proponent of duo-piano music as coach and mentor for Duo-Piano Groups. With long time friend and pianist, Rita Lapcevic, the duo piano partners’ recorded performances span over fifty years (see below). In addition, Sandra’s crucial role as Juliet’s accompanist, as heard on dozens of hours of recorded performances spanning the decades are a testament to her own interpretive virtuosity.
From a very early age, Karen Shaw’s extraordinary talent was apparent. As was the case with older sister, Sandra, she began her training with her mother, Juliet, and continued with celebrated teachers and mentors, Bela Nagy, Menahem Pressler, Abbey Simon and Jorge Bolet. While a still a senior at Indiana University School of Music, she won the Concerto Contest institution’s highest honor, as well as the Performance Certificate, the highest honor for excellence in public performance.
As teenagers, she and Sandra had a thriving musical life, appearing as both solo artists and as much praised Duo-Piano performers.
By 1968, Karen was also a Professor of Piano at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where she taught for 51 years, as well as serving as Piano Department Chair numerous times.
Critical acclaim followed Karen for the rest of her professional career as a pianist, starting with her first New York appearance and subsequent winning of the Concert Artists Guild Award. Her Carnegie Hall concerts earned her exceptional praise in publications like the New York Times: “persuasive interpreter of Romantic music,” while her interpretive and technical prowess were described “as dazzling as accurate,” and “sensitivity tenderly poetic.” Her career as a soloist and pianist with orchestras took her all over the world – the U.S.,London, Europe, Canada, and Hong Kong.
Her scintillating recordings of Rachmaninoff’s Etudes-Tableaux (Op. 33 and Op. 39) and her powerful interpretations of Scriabin’s Preludes (Op. 11) and Sonata No. 4 in F-Sharp Minor (Op. 30) reveal unparalleled skill and sensitivity in both live performance and studio settings.
Sandra and Karen play Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 16 in C
Major, K.545 (Mvmts 1, 2, and 3) circa early 1950s (below)
Sandra and Duo-Piano Partner, Rita Lapcevic, play Rachmaninoff’s Tarantella, 4th Movement, Suite No. 2, Opus 17 (below)