February 26, 2020, Washington, D.C. The City Choir of Washington announced this week that Robert Shafer, the group’s founding Artistic Director, will retire from his position at the end of the 2020-2021 season. Maestro Shafer’s last concert as Artistic Director will feature Brahms’ German Requiem in the spring of 2021. He will become Artistic Director Emeritus after his retirement. The City Choir will begin the search process for a new Artistic Director shortly.
“Bob Shafer is one of America’s most distinguished choral conductors, and he has been a pillar of the DC choral community for more than 50 years. Bob has made enormous contributions to help transform our city into the ‘Choral Capital’ of the United States,” said Benjamin Tsai, President of the City Choir of Washington.
Shafer, who will be 75 in 2021, has served as the City Choir’s Artistic Director since 2007. Shafer was the Music Director of the Washington Chorus for more than 35 years. In 2000, he was honored with a Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance for a live concert recording of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem. Shafer prepared the Washington Chorus for the Grammy Award-winning recording of John Corigliano’s Of Rage and Remembrance with the National Symphony. In 2011, the Choralis Foundation awarded Shafer with a Choral Excellence Award. Under his direction, the City Choir of Washington commissioned and performed the world premiere of Sir John Tavener’s “Three Hymns of George Herbert” and “Tolstoy's Creed” at the Washington National Cathedral in April 2013, with the composer in attendance.
Shafer is also a noted composer. In December 2019, his composition, “Sweet Was the Song the Virgin Sang,” was performed in a televised concert at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. A dedicated and celebrated teacher, Shafer started his conducting career in 1968 at James Madison High School in Vienna, Virginia; he was professor of music at the Conservatory of Music at Shenandoah University from 1983 until his retirement in 2016.
Reflecting on his career as a musician, Shafer said he has strived “to create beauty and give our audiences an escape from our deeply troubled world and a vision of a new world truly at peace and filled with love.”
About the City Choir of Washington
The City Choir of Washington is a symphonic chorus composed of 120 experienced, professional-caliber volunteer singers from throughout the greater Washington metropolitan area. The City Choir seeks to inspire singers, audience members, and the community at large to discover the rich musical and cultural heritage of choral music.