UMass Music and Dance to Present Video of Final Performances by Nadine Shank

Nadine Shank
Nadine Shank

On Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021 at 3 p.m., the UMass Amherst department of Music and Dance will present a virtual concert featuring beloved long-time piano professor Nadine Shank, who passed away in October. The video, titled “Celestial Graces: A Remembrance of Nadine Shank,” features recent performances by her and numerous current and former colleagues, along with a few selections captured during concerts with her fellow UMass faculty members over the past few years. The free event will be streamed on a one-time-only basis on the department’s YouTube channel

The recent recording sessions were organized at Shank’s request following her diagnosis in early 2020 with Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, a rare form of progressive dementia. Faced with the rapid onset of this incurable disorder, Shank saw these sessions as her last opportunity to experience the joy of performance while also celebrating the many relationships she developed during her decades-long career. Shank met this challenge with her patented mixture of energy, determination and grace, and has left behind a moving and inspiring testament to her legacy as a performer, educator, and mentor. 

Appropriately, Shank’s work as a consummate collaborative pianist is the primary focus of the video, which includes recent performances with former UMass faculty members Lynn Klock (saxophone), with whom Shank enjoyed a lengthy musical partnership over many years, and another with close friend and colleague Estela Olevsky (piano). Also featured are current UMass professors Edward Arron (cello) and Gilles Vonsattel (piano). Shank took great joy in collaborating with student musicians and therefore invited young musicians Cynthia Yu (violin), Hannah Berube ’13 (clarinet) and Roxanne Welch (soprano) to take part in the recording sessions.

The virtual concert also includes recent footage of Shank performing alongside current UMass colleagues Jonathan Hulting-Cohen (saxophone), a regular performance partner in recent years, as well as Jamie-Rose Guarrine (soprano) and Rémy Taghavi (bassoon). The video concludes with Shank performing solo works by Granados and Liszt, a last poignant reminder of her noteworthy skills as a soloist.

After the full video is presented on Jan. 31, individual selections will remain posted on YouTube for later viewing. The event is free; donations are encouraged to the newly-established Nadine E. Shank Piano Endowment Fund.