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Peter W. Shea, tenor/baritone
Peter W. Shea has sung professionally since 1972 throughout New England and the Hudson Valley. He is a frequent soloist with groups such as Arcadia Players, Hampshire Choral Society, Commonwealth Opera, and the Brattleboro Concert Choir. He also performs regularly with vocal and instrumental chamber ensembles including the vocal ensemble Cantabile, with choral groups such as Novi Cantori, and can be heard as a soloist in music series like the New England Bach Festival and the Mohawk Trail Concerts. He is a member of the Arcadia Players board of directors, and served as co-Artistic Director for the 2003-2004 season.
Peter was born in 1954 in Lewiston, Maine, into a musical family that has produced many professional singers going back at least three generations on his father's side. His musical education as a child was singing in his father's church choirs at Court Street Baptist Church in Auburn, Maine; his mother was a school librarian. After graduating from high school in Buckfield, Maine, he studied voice with Arthur Koret at the Hartt School, University of Hartford, librarianship at Southern Connecticut State University, and historical musicology at the University of Connecticut, Storrs. He has taken part in several vocal master classes with baritone Sanford Sylvan. Peter's musical interests are very wide-ranging, covering art song and vocal chamber music from 1500 through the present, with special emphasis on German lieder.
After his March 2009 performance of Bach's St. John Passion with St. Paul's Cathedral Choir, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette's reviewer called Peter "... an Evangelist of remarkable purity of tone, perfection of enunciation, and amazing staying power. The clarity of his German almost obviated any need for the English program provided, and he seemed magically to embody the emotions of the story through bewilderment, rage, sadness and salvation."
Three days later a different reviewer for the same paper wrote the following about Peter's performance of Britten's Serenade for tenor, horn and strings with the Worcester Collegium at Mechanics Hall: "The songs, which often called for notes at the top of the vocal range, were interpreted with great artistry by Peter Shea. He sang with a rich and relaxed tone and such perfect diction that the printed words in the program were rarely needed. His musical interpretation of the emotional content of each song was eloquent; especially effective was the nocturne by Alfred, Lord Tennyson which contained the refrain, 'Blow, bugle, blow; answer echoes, dying, dying dying,' sung with great emotional effect."
Classical Voice of New England's reviewer wrote of an October 2008 performance of Beethoven's An die ferne Geliebte (which you can see and hear on YouTube): Shea’s perfect lieder voice, impeccable diction, and judicious interpretive skills together with Jakuc Leverett’s sensitive touch were a fine combination and made this a magical rendition. The work ends in a fff, and they had all the power necessary to make the hall resound and elicit hearty applause from the audience.
Watch and listen to Peter sing on video clips from concerts at his YouTube channel.Live concert recordings of four recitals presented as part of Peter's 2005-2006 sabbatical, over 100 musical settings of Heinrich Heine's poetry, including ten world premieres of commissioned songs, on the Scholarworks@UMass Amherst website.
How I eat
Peter has worked since 1985 at the W.E.B. Du Bois Library at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. As a member of the Cataloging and Processing Department he spends 32 hours a week cataloging music and other audio-visual materials (sound recordings, scores, videos, etc.), books in Roman-alphabet non-Iberian foreign languages, and other things no one else wants to catalog.
Library reflected in Campus Pond
My Heine project
During my 1997-98 sabbatical I began preparing a Web-based performer's guide to solo vocal settings of the poetry of Heinrich Heine (1797-1856) entitled Ihr Lieder! Ihr meine guten Lieder! (You songs! O you brave songs of mine!). This project combines my enthusiasm for the music and poetry with my graduate training in musicology and my career in librarianship. I have thus far collected over 2500 songs, and in 2004 made my database of over 8500 Heine settings searchable on the web on the Heine Lieder Query page. A website containing recordings, scores and other related materials from four concerts of Heine settings presented as part of my 2005-2006 sabbatical is under development on Scholarworks, the UMass Amherst digital institutional repository.
Performances in previous