Sunday, January 21, 2001
Miami U. cellist, teacher remembered
Steven Shumway's colleagues remember him as an excellent cellist, a distinguished teacher and a musical leader.
Mr. Shumway, professor of cello since 1983 and cellist in the Oxford String Quartet at Miami University, died Dec. 23 in Cincinnati after a three-month battle with cancer.
He was 45.
It is a tremendous loss for the music department. He, in many ways, was one of our strongest academic and musical leaders, said Judith Delzell, department chair.
Steve Shumway built a cello studio that is one of the strongest studios in the department, she said. Last year, the top two high school cellists in the state chose Miami University over other schools, to study with him.
In 1985, Mr. Shumway resurrected the Oxford String Quartet, which had been inactive, as a faculty ensemble-in-residence. Founded in 1946, it is one of the oldest faculty string quartets in the United States. Since then, the quartet has performed on three continents, made recordings, commissioned new works and performed with noted chamber musicians.
He was a dynamic performer, a powerful musician, and someone I respected tremendously, said Mary Harris, violist in the Oxford Quartet. Steve was a devoted teacher. He felt being a strong performer helped his teaching.
In 1995, Mr. Shumway founded the Miami University Cello Institute, which attracted talented high school students from across the country.
He was the principal cellist of the Ohio ProMusica Chamber Orchestra in Columbus. Over the last six years, he performed one of J.S. Bach's Cello Suites each season, finishing the ambitious cycle last year.
As a soloist, he performed in North and South America, Europe and Asia, and was featured on National Public Radio, WQXR in New York and on Austrian Radio.
Mr. Shumway was a concerto soloist with many orchestras, including the National Repertory Orchestra, the Atlanta Virtuosi, the Miami University Symphony Orchestra and the Northern Kentucky Symphony.
He was also principal cellist of the Charlotte and Akron symphonies, and a visiting assistant professor of cello at the University of Akron.
Mr. Shumway was hailed in reviews for his finesse, verve and impassioned music making. A champion of contemporary music, he gave premieres and recorded music by composers such as Karel Husa, Gunther Schuller, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski and Elliott Schwartz.
He and the quartet performed Arnold Schoenberg's Concerto for String Quartet with the Northern Kentucky Symphony in 1997.
It was a very difficult piece, and not one that gets performed very often, said James Cassidy, NKS music director. He was very professional and easy to work with. He was one of those nice guys who was very helpful.
A native of Ainsworth, Neb., Mr. Shumway was one of only six cellists to be awarded the Doctor of Music degree from Indiana University School of Music, where he studied with Janos Starker. Mr. Shumway is survived by his wife, Christine, and children Morgan, 4, and Dylan, 16 months, of Oxford; his parents Stanley and Janice Shumway of Lawrence, Kan.; three sisters and one brother.
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Feb. 4 in Hall Auditorium on campus. Contributions may be sent to the Steven Shumway Scholarship Fund, Miami University, care of Robert Becks, 725 E. Chestnut St., Oxford, OH 45056.
Money talks: Native Cincinnatian James Levine tops the list of the nine highest paid conductors of America's major orchestras and opera companies, reported in the Jan. 22 issue of Forbes magazine. Mr. Levine was paid $1.9 million for his work at the Metropolitan Opera.
Six others in the list earned more than $1 million, according to recent IRS filings. They are: Kurt Masur, New York Philharmonic ($1.5 million); Michael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony ($1.3 million); Wolfgang Sawallisch, Philadelphia Orchestra ($1.1 million); Leonard Slatkin, National Symphony ($1.1 million) and Christoph von Dohnanyi, Cleveland Orchestra, ($1 million).
Jesus Lopez-Cobos, music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, did not make the list.
Nice work if you can get it: He's the former brand manager who gave up an office with a window at Procter & Gamble to pursue his dream of singing opera. David Michael is shooting for the top. Now, it's happening.
Mr. Michael, an opera basso who has sung with Cincinnati Opera, will make his New York City Opera debut as Timur in Puccini's Turandot next November.
I have checked off one of the Big Four, says Mr. Michael, whose goal is to sing at City Opera, San Francisco, Chicago and the Met.
City Opera is one of those first big ones where younger singers start out. It's a great platform for people to be recognized, he says.
Mr. Michael made his debut with Opera Company of Philadelphia in Rigoletto in October.
It's coming together slowly but surely, he says. Meanwhile, he's off to sing Dr. Bartolo in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro with Orlando Opera, Feb. 16-20.
Muni's Verdi: Four examples of Verdi opera productions by Cincinnati Opera artistic director Nicholas Muni are being featured at the Verdi 2001 Congress, hosted by the American Institute for Verdi Studies in New York through Feb. 2.
Mr. Muni's modernized and updated productions of Stiffelio (Opera Delaware, 1988); Il Trovatore (Seattle Opera, 1989); La Traviata (New York City Opera, 1991); and Rigoletto (Canadian Opera Company, 1992) will be featured in an exhibit entitled Modern Productions of Verdi Operas.
Mr. Muni's productions will also be featured in a panel discussion during the congress. The exhibit, free and open to the public, may be viewed at Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimo, 24 W. 12th St., New York University. Web site: homepages.nyu.edu/tildefqi0375/congress.html.
Meanwhile, Cincinnati Opera is in the talking stages of bringing Dead Man Walking by Jake Hegge and Terrence McNally for the 2002 season. The composer, Mr. Hegge, is in town today.
The real-life story, which became a book by Sister Helen Prejean and then a movie, premiered as an opera in San Francisco in October. San Francisco Opera commissioned it as part of General Director Lotfi Mansouri's Pacific Visions program for replenishing the opera repertory.
Opera debut: Speaking of opera, Cincinnati Pops conductor Erich Kunzel will make his San Francisco Opera debut next season, when he conducts The Merry Widow (Nov. 27-Jan. 19), a new production by Lotfi Mansouri. The cast includes Frederica von Stade as the Merry Widow and Bo Skovhus as Count Danilo.
Barge in: The Cincinnati Chamber Music Society's 72nd season will open Oct. 9 with Barge Group, an ensemble which performs Barge Music yes, on a barge in the East River in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y.
Of special interest next year, the composer John Corigliano will bring a quartet, which will premiere a new work of his on Dec. 4.
The Eroica Trio will visit Cincinnati, Jan. 22, 2002. The remainder of the season includes the Miro Quartet (March 26) and the Emerson String Quartet (April 9), Musical America's Ensemble of the Year in 2000. For information call: 533-0451.
Musical podiums: No sooner was Christoph Eschenbach named the next music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra early this month, than another orchestra announced a vacancy.
Zdenek Macal, 65, is stepping down as music director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra at the end of the 2001-2002 season. Mr. Macal, former music director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, has been in New Jersey since 1992.
Mr. Eschenbach, 60, a pianist and former music director of the Houston Symphony, will succeed Wolfgang Sawallisch in 2003.
Janelle Gelfand is Enquirer classical music critic. Write to her at 312 Elm St., Cincinnati 45202; fax 768-8330; or e-mail email@example.com.
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