Since his arrival in the U.S. in 2007, Peter Shannon and the Savannah Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus have prompted the media to describe their performances as “sublime,” “intense,” and “stellar”.
After Shannon took over the reins in Savannah, critics wrote: “he’s like a touch of Irish Spring after the long winter of our discontent.”
One critic described the Irish conductor as a “juggernaut on stage,” and compared a Philharmonic performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony to that of being at a rock concert. “I hope Peter Shannon forgives the tortured analogy to AC/DC,” he wrote, “—it’s intended as a compliment.”
Following in the tradition of Bach at the Collegium Musicum at Leipzig University, Germany, Shannon spent the previous decade conducting the Collegium Musicum Orchestra in Heidelberg. Peter was twenty-six when he accepted the position at the oldest and most prominent university in the country.
Born in 1969, Peter Shannon began his musical education as a choirboy in Cork Cathedral, Ireland. As a Bachelor of Music student at University College Dublin and whilst singing baritone in the RTÉ National Chamber Choir, he began studying conducting under the Irish conductor, Colman Pearce.
In Germany, he studied in Weimar at the Franz Liszt Hochschule fuer Musik, founded by the great pianist and composer Liszt himself. He later studied at the Karlsruhe Hochschule fuer Musik, one of only a handful of German universities (including Heidelberg) which hold the official title of “elite” university. He graduated with the highest possible grade which can be awarded by the German State.
As a member of the “Dirigenten Forum,” part of the German Arts Council whose function it is to sponsor an “especially talented” group for up-and-coming conductors, Shannon guest conducted orchestras such as the Göttingen Philharmoniker, Baden-Baden Philharmonie, Thüringen Philharmonie, Jena Philharmonie, Halle Philharmonisches Orchester, Rheinische Philharmonie, and others.
Outside Germany, Peter Shannon has appeared as guest conductor with the Warsaw Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Pecs Symphony Orchestra in Hungary. In 1998, he made his debut with the Irish Radio Concert Orchestra, and in the following year with the Irish National Symphony. He has been invited back to work with both orchestras. In the summers of 2009–2011, he returned to Germany, Hungary and Holland as Artistic Director & Conductor of “Voices of Europe”, a week-long festival of concerts performed by choirs of ethnic minorities from all over Europe. He has been a guest conductor at music festivals in Norway, Italy, Germany and Denmark. In December 2011, Mr. Shannon served as a judge at the Shreveport Symphony Wideman Piano Competition. In April 2012, he guest conducted at the State Opera House in Halle, Germany— birthplace of Georg Friedrich Händel. He has since been invited back to conduct in January, 2013. Mr. Shannon has been officially recognized by the American Federation of Musicians and the United States Government as an individual of extraordinary ability.