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Nina E. Shuman

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Nina E. Shuman Notice
Age: 56 years. Sonoma County music and opera makers and lovers mourn the loss of Nina Elizabeth Shuman, who died peacefully after a two and a half year battle with cancer in the evening of Sunday, December 12. Born April 27, 1954 in New York City, Nina was surrounded by music and art from the time she was born. Childhood summers were spent in Santa Barbara, California, where her father, Davis Shuman, a distinguished trombonist and a member of the faculty of The Juilliard School, was on the faculty of the Music Academy of the West. Her mother, Shirley, an artist, graduated from the High School of Music and Art and Brooklyn College. Her brother, Mark, a well-known cellist, is presently a member of the New York City Opera Orchestra. Nina attended the Ethical Culture School in Brooklyn and graduated from Hunter College High School in New York City. She also received scholarships to the Kneisel Hall Music School in Blue Hill Maine. She received her bachelor's degree from Bennington College in Vermont and her Master's degree from Dominican College in San Rafael. She served as Assistant Conductor for Marin Civic Light Opera and was awarded scholarships and a grant from the Marin Educational Foundation to study orchestral conducting with Murry Sidlin at the Aspen Music Festival. In 1986, after attending an opera and feeling an immediate affinity with the production and its people, Nina accepted the post of Music Director and Conductor for Cinnabar Theater, a post she held until her passing. She led the company in over 35 opera productions, including old masters and rare works, as well as west coast and world premieres. Her final operatic project was the west coast premiere of Tobias Picker's Emmeline in June of 2010, which the New York composer deemed an absolute triumph. She also conducted and toured operas written specifically for children, which were attended by many thousands of young people over the course of fifteen years. In 1988, Nina helped Cinnabar founder Marvin Klebe create the Petaluma Summer Music Festival, for which she conducted and, as an accomplished pianist, performed numerous chamber concerts and opera galas, including a performance of G.F. Handel's Water Music on a barge in the Petaluma River. In 2001, Nina was appointed music director for Petaluma Sings!, a community chorus for women. She immediately established the Cinnabar Chamber Singers, a mixed chorus, and the Cinnabar Choral Ensembles were born. Her great passion for music, her deep knowledge and her brilliant technique and talent, not to mention her uniquely wry sense of humor, inspired amateur choral singers, professional opera singers and orchestra members, as well as a host of young people who were privileged to work under her auspices, and countless audience members. Though Cinnabar Theater kept her busy with operas, concerts and choruses, Nina found time to work with other companies as well. She guest conducted for Boise Opera, Lamplighters SF, Sonoma City Opera, Berkeley Opera, North Bay Lyric Opera, Sonoma State University, Marin Chamber Orchestra, Dominican Orchestra, Antelope Valley Orchestra, San Francisco and Winifred Baker Chorales, St. Francis Yacht Club Men's Chorus, and the Mayflower Community Chorus. She also served as music director at the Harrower Summer Opera Workshop at the University of Georgia in Atlanta, stage director and conductor for the Dominican College Opera Workshop, opera conductor and coach for the University of Texas at Austin and conductor for the Bay Area Summer Opera Theater Institute. An indomitable musical spirit, Nina conducted her final concert on September 11 of this year, and even attended a final rehearsal for Cinnabar's latest opera in November. Though music was the great mission of her life, Nina held other interests as well. She was an avid walker, and enjoyed riding her friend's horse Poco at Chocolate Horse farm. She was an excellent cook and delighted in dining with her musician friends. In latter years, she was passionately concerned with the rescue of Siberian huskies. She is survived by her mother Shirley; brother Mark and his wife Elisabeth; and her nephews Nicolai and Alexander; as well as the members of her two choruses and her friends and colleagues in the opera music world. Graveside Committal will be held today, Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. at B'nai Israel Cemetery, 430 Magnolia Ave., Petaluma. Memorial donations may be made to Cinnabar Theater, 3333 Petaluma Blvd. No., Petaluma, 94952. Family assisted by PARENT-SORENSEN MORTUARY & CREMATORY 707-763-4131
Published Online in the Press Democrat from Dec. 14 to Dec. 16, 2010
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