Friday, May 17, 2013

Caroline Shaw - Pulitzer Prize Winner for 2013

So it took me about a month but I finally got a chance to really sit down and listen to Caroline Shaw's Pulitzer Prize winning composition Partita for 8 Voices, sung by the group Roomful Of Teeth (of which, Shaw is a member).

Upon my first hearing of it, I was absolutely floored. I don't get floored very often, particularly by vocal music. I mean, I LOVE vocal music, but a lot of it is very choir-ish. But Shaw's piece has those moments, but it is so much more. It is beautiful, primal, weird, hypnotic, chaotic and simple all at the same time. The variety of vocal techniques and extended techniques used in her composition is astounded and Roomful of Teeth do it effortless mastery!!

So of course, in checking out Shaw's website I found the recordings of the piece, but also some score samples. Which are beautifully notated. I hope to, at some point, purchase a copy when and if it becomes available to peruse the entire thing. But it is just exquisite. I don't gush over much, but I just love this piece, and the entire album it is on. And the funny part is, I can't exactly tell you why. Which makes it even better.

On to the album as a whole. First off, Roomful of Teeth is probably the most interesting vocal group I have ever heard. They use everything from Tuvan throat singing, to Korean style singing, to yodeling spoken word and all sorts of guttural primal throat sounds. They are eight of the most powerful voices I have heard and when you bring them together you get some seriously explosive moments in the works.

Along with Shaw's Partita there are a smattering of other amazing vocal compositions by William Brittelle, Judd Greenstein, Caleb Burhans, Sarah Kirkland Snider, Rinde Eckert, and Merrill Garbus. Each piece with it's own unique voice (pardon the pun) and explosive and beautiful character.

If you enjoy any kind of vocal music, I strongly encourage checking out this album. It is amazing and I hope they produce more great music such as this.

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