Grammy Award winning percussionist Shane Shanahan has cultivated his own unique and highly sought after sound by combining his studies of drumming traditions from around the world with his background in jazz, rock and Western art music. His interest in other cultures has lead to extended visits to Turkey, India, and Tajikistan, among others. Shane’s rare set of diverse skills is what attracted Yo-Yo Ma when he was forming the Silk Road Ensemble. In the summer of 2000, Shane was invited to Tanglewood where he played an important role in the formation of the group. Ever since, he has been touring around the globe performing side-by-side with Mr. Ma as an original member of the award-winning Silk Road Ensemble. Shane’s playing can be heard on all four of the ensemble’s top-selling recordings for the Sony/BMG label. The most recent was nominated for a Grammy and two of them feature his arranging skills. These arrangements have brought ecstatic audience to their feet in the top concert halls of North America, Europe and Asia. Shane can also be seen and heard on Mr. Ma’s CD/DVD release “Songs of Joy.”
He is also a member of frame drum master Glen Velez’ TaKaDiMi Ensemble and cellist Maya Beiser’s Provenance Project. He has performed and/or recorded with Bobby McFerrin, Aretha Frankin, Philip Glass, Alison Krause, Sonny Fortune, Deep Purple, Jordi Savall, Fantasia, Chaka Khan, G. E. Smith, Simon Shaheen, Jamey Haddad, Cyro Baptista, Anindo Chaterjee, Sandeep Das, Shahram Nazeri, Alim Qasimov, Kayhan Kalhor, Howard Levy and Steve Gorn, among others.
During the 2009-2010 season, Shane co-curated a 40 week concert series at The Museum of Natural History for the Traveling the Silk Road Exhibit. He was also highly involved in The Bridge Project, a three-year trans-Atlantic partnership uniting The Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Old Vic Theatre of London, and Neal Street Productions. Shane was one of two featured musician in Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” and “The Tempest,” directed by Oscar winner Sam Mendes (“American Beauty”/”Skyfall.”) After two months of performances in New York, the production commenced an extensive tour of Asia and Europe. On Broadway, Shane has played for Caroline, Or Change, The Color Purple, Shrek, and Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark.
Shane has been seen/heard on TV and radio throughout North America,
Europe, and Asia, including appearances on David Letterman, Good Morning America, the National Geographic Channel, NPR, PBS, NHK, and The Opening Ceremony of the Special Olympics in Shanghai. Shane has presented workshops and clinics in many of the world’s top universities, including Harvard, Princeton, Northwestern, New York University, UC Santa Barbara and the Rhode Island School of Design. He has also performed and created outreach programs for many world-class museums, such as the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Museums of Japan in Kyushu and Nara, the British Library in London, the Rietberg Museum in Zurich and the Ruben Museum of Himalayan Art in New York.
In the spring of 2000, Shane was the director of the percussion department at The Hartt School, University of Hartford. In the fall of 2006, he was a Guest Artist in Residence at the Hartt School, focusing on multi-cultural hand drumming. This residency culminated in a student concert consisting entirely of Shane’s compositions and arrangements. He returned to Hartt for both semesters of 2011. He has also taught at the Amherst Early Music Festival, as one of Lincoln Center’s Meet the Artist performers, and is currently the Lead Teaching Artist for the Silk Road Projects education initiative Silk Road Connect. He received his Bachelor’s Degree and prestigious Performer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music and his Master’s Degree from The Hartt School.