Caroline Shaw's ‘Partita for 8 Voices’ Wins Pulitzer Prize for Music

By Logan K. Young on Apr 15, 2013 10:14 PM EDT

At just 30 years old, violinist, composer (and Princeton grad student) Caroline Adelaide Shaw has won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in music. 

"I think up to now people have known me as a violinist and then more so as a singer," Shaw told the Associated Press by phone from New York, where she works as a freelance musician. "I guess now people are going to know me as a composer--I guess more than I'm used to." 

Inspired by conceptual minimalist Sol LeWitt's Wall Drawing 305, Partita for 8 Voices was written for the new music vocal group Roomful of Teeth. On her website, Shaw notes that the four parts of the piece were premiered individually, from 2009-11, at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASSMoCA, for short).

Partita for 8 Voices was recorded by Roomful of Teeth and released in October by New Amsterdam Records

Shaw writes further: "Partita is a simple piece. Born of a love of surface and structure, of the human voice, of dancing and tired ligaments, of music, and of our basic desire to draw a line from one point to another."  

Meanwhile, the Pulitzer committee wrote the following about Shaw's Partita: "a highly polished and inventive a cappella work uniquely embracing speech, whispers, sighs, murmurs, wordless melodies and novel vocal effects." 

Shaw, a native of North Carolina, will receive $10,000--and based upon the caliber of the two other finalists--a bevy of accolades, as well. This year's finalists were 1998 Pulitzer winner Aaron Jay Kernis for Pieces of Winter Sky and jazz trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith for his stunning, four-disc survey of civil rights on Cuneiform Records, Ten Freedom Summers.

The jury for the 2013 music category was chaired by Jeremy Geffen, director of artistic planning at Carnegie Hall. Other jury members included musician Muhal Richard Abrams, Gerald Levinson of Swarthmore College, Carol Oja of Harvard University and Chicago Tribune jazz critic Howard Reich. 

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TagsCaroline Shaw, Pulitzer Prize, Partita for 8 Voices

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