Much of shawn’s knowledge and understanding of leadership, team dynamics, goal setting, time management, and project management come from his time as a musician. As a former music director and conductor and as a former trombonist and pianist, shawn has performed orchestra, opera, light opera, jazz, chamber music, and musical theatre on many of the world’s greatest stages, eliciting electrifying performances from musicians and lauded reviews from composers, attendees, and critics.
From an early age, shawn displayed a voracious appetite toward, and keen aptitude for, music. As a pianist, shawn performed in and competed in numerous piano recitals and competitions. His affinity for understanding the composer’s intention, coupled with his unique interpretation and compulsion for emotive performances started early in his career…and never dissipated. Throughout his career as a musician, shawn was always known for his emotive interpretations.
As a trombonist, shawn played in any group that would have him. Orchestra, opera, light opera, musical theatre, marching band, concert band, wind ensemble, jazz band, and chamber music, were all venues in which shawn shined. While studying music education at Southern Methodist University’s acclaimed Algur H. Meadows School of the Arts, shawn studied trombone performance with John Kidman, Principal Trombone of the Dallas Symphony. John not only taught shawn trombone principles, but knowing he was interested in conducting, changed his approach and discussed weekly guest conductors at the DSO doing lessons, leaving a lasting impression on shawn of what a truly great teacher can do. During the summer, shawn attended the Conductor’s Institute of South Carolina, where he really got hist first taste of conducting a professional orchestra. This opportunity would shape the next several years of his career. Upon returning to SMU after the summer, he leaned into his entrepreneurial spirit and endeavored to put together a concert, featuring his friends in the instrumental program. This first step as a conductor was one that would lead to more entrepreneurial endeavors over the years to come. After graduating from SMU, shawn moved to Baltimore, where we studied conducting at the United States’ first music conservatory, the Peabody Conservatory of Music of the Johns Hopkins University.
There, he studied with the United States’ pre-eminent conducting teacher and pedagogue, Gustav Meier. While at Peabody, shawn displayed not only a penchant for heart-felt interpretations, he also showed a knack for entrepreneurship. Founding two of his own groups, the Mt. Vernon Chamber Players and the Tantalus Chamber Orchestra, shawn not only organized, acted as music director and conductor, he was also music librarian, stage manager, contract negotiator, and personnel manager, having procured funding for event-concerts from many of Baltimore’s top private donors. This allowed him to not only pay players and collaborative artists, but also produce noteworthy events highlighting musicians and artists from multiple disciplines. As such, he promoted new and upcoming talents with compelling programming and collaborative events, like: the Tantalus Chamber Orchestra presents ‘Nectar and Ambrosia, an Evening of Music and Art’, which featured a live art exhibition displaying the works of local artists. While at Peabody, shawn was also invited to conduct at the inaugural dedication concert of the Holtkamp Organ at Griswold Hall of the Peabody Conservatory, and enjoyed performing with the Peabody Symphony, concert Orchestra, Conductor’s Orchestra, Serenata, and Wind Ensemble. While balancing his studies and performance opportunities, shawn entered into an apprenticeship with the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, a relationship that would grow over time and last for several seasons.
After graduating from Peabody, shawn attended the world-renown Aspen Music Festival and School as a member of the inaugural class of the American Academy of Conducting. Exposed to the uppermost echelon of musicians from around the world, shawn thrived in this artistic and creative environment. His entrepreneurial drive continued in Aspen where he organized concerts highlighting new music by up-and-coming composers at the festival. There, he also was exposed to his first speaking opportunities and radio interviews.
shawn’s relationship with the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra grew from apprenticeship to assistantship at a pivotal time for the organization. While finally achieving full-time musician status, (a dream for most musicians), shawn found himself at an organization prepped and ready for major changes. During his time there, and within a year of each other, both the founding Music Director and Executive Director left the organization to pursue other opportunities. Possessing an organization-first mentality, shawn took on additional duties, fusing many of the duties or artistic and administrative responsibilities together. He sat on both search committees, acting as liaison to the board and the candidates, getting his first real taste for recruiting, which would serve him well later in the business world. While at the BCO, shawn cover conducted for the Music Director and Guest Conductors, as well as conducted summer concerts and family concerts. Especially exciting was working with the Maryland Film Festival where the BCO played live musical scores to accompany film. Another particularly enjoyable highlight was partnering with Johns Hopkins University continuing education program to conceptualize, prepare, and facilitate a semester-long course call ‘Behind the Scenes at the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra’, where he explained the inner workings of the orchestra, arts organization, musician administration, concert-experience, and more. This was coupled with pre-concert lectures demystifying the orchestral experience.
Shawn then enrolled at the Catholic University of America as a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate, while working full-time running contact centers internationally. At CUA, shawn had the opportunity to lean into his experiences from the BCO, because after one year of studying, the Music Director and program teacher left to pursue another opportunity, once again thrusting shawn into a position of responsibility. At that time, shawn not only prepared the orchestra for concerts, he also had the opportunity to teach undergraduate conducting to music majors, sparking a joy that he would only years later get to release when teaching as adjunct faculty at the Edwin L. Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University. His CUA experiences included live mixing of concerts for TV broadcasts inside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, performing with members of many of the armed forces bands and orchestras, and culminated in his doctor recital ‘Prelude d’apres midi d’un faun: Impressions of a Dream’, where he again entrepreneurially secured a venue, and created and delivered a multi-media presentation fusing the impressionist inspirations of art and poetry behind Debussy’s immortal composition.
Over the next several years, shawn performed with numerous organizations. Dedicated to bringing new music from contemporary compilers to audiences, shawn led the world premiere of serval works over his career and also composed his own original work, ‘Dolorous Abyss: Reflections on Dante’s Inferno’ and he, himself, led the world premier performance.
An abbreviated list of organizations shawn has conducted:
- Baltimore Chamber Orchestra
- Annapolis Symphony Orchestra
- Kharkov Philharmonic
- BCO Sounds of Summer Festival Orchestra
- The Washington Savoyards
- Light Opera Company of Southern Maryland
- Tantalus Chamber Orchestra
- Lafayette Symphony Orchestra
- West Shore Symphony Orchestra
- Prince George’s Philharmonic Orchestra
- Richmond Philharmonic Orchestra
- Londontowne Symphony Orchestra
- Forgotten Opera Company
- Maryland Film Festival Orchestra
- Minnesota Orchestra (Cover Conductor)
- Mt. Vernon Chamber Orchestra
- Aspen Music Festival Symphony Orchestra
- Catholic University Symphony Orchestra
- Peabody Conservatory Symphony Orchestra
- Peabody Conservatory Concert Orchestra
- Peabody Conservatory Wind Ensemble
- Peabody Conservatory Chamber Players
- Peabody Serenata
- SMU Concert Band
- SMU Symphony Orchestra
- SMU Mustang Marching Band
- Chesapeake Youth Orchestra
A short list of critical praise from critics & composers:
- “Ring of Fire is a rather tough orchestral work. I have heard many performances of the piece with many degrees of success. Mr. Storer’s performance was stellar. The orchestra was crisp and clean, executing the rhythms with precision, and the textures were brilliantly balanced. Mr. Storer is a fine conductor.” – Libby Larsen, Composer, Ring of Fire
- “There is nothing more orgasmic for this musical theatre lover than hearing the rat-tat-tat-tat of an exceptional trumpeter and drummer, and the sweet shimmering sounds of a great flutist and oboist playing one of my favorite overtures with so much heart and beauty. And that is what happened to me when I attended a performance of The Washington Savoyards production of the 1966 Tony Award Winning musical Man Of La Mancha at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, conducted by Shawn Storer.” – Joel Markowitz, Music Critic, DC Theatre Scene
- “This current production of the Washington Savoyards, which has been producing the comic operas of Gilbert and Sullivan to critical acclaim since the early 1970’s, has much to recommend. Shawn Storer is an excellent conductor.” – Micaele Sparcino, Critic, Concerto Net