On Pulitzer Prize–winning composer Caroline Shaw's album Orange, Attacca Quartet performs six of her pieces for string quartet. "Completely gorgeous in so many ways," exclaims BBC Radio 3. "It hits you everywhere, all at once." "A love letter to the string quartet," says NPR. "[W]hen you hear all the imaginative sounds on Orange, you know you're listening to the voice of a strong composer." The two-LP vinyl edition includes the album on double 180-gram orange vinyl, pressed at Record Industry in the Netherlands, along with a printed excerpt from the score. Grammy Award Winner: Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance.
Grammy Award Winner: Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance
New Amsterdam and Nonesuch Records released Pulitzer Prize–winning composer Caroline Shaw’s Orange, performed by Attacca Quartet, on April 19, 2019. The two-LP vinyl edition includes the album on double 180-gram orange vinyl, pressed at Record Industry in the Netherlands, along with a printed excerpt from the score, is due in late summer 2020. Orange, which features six of Shaw’s pieces for string quartet, is the first full-length album to exclusively feature works by Shaw. It is also the first release in a new partnership between the two record labels, established with the goal of enabling contemporary American composers to realize creative ambitions that might not otherwise be achievable.
Composer Caroline Shaw is also a singer in the Grammy Award–winning vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth, for which she wrote the piece that won the Pulitzer Prize: Partita (she was the youngest Pulitzer recipient). She has also played violin since the age of two and been drawn to the string quartet for most of her life. She says, "It has existed for hundreds of years, but there's something kind of, for me, beautiful and ritualistic about coming back to that form. It's something familiar, and yet you can keep on opening these doors and diving down these little rabbit holes. Just the simple changes of harmony and the shape of the bass line, and how that can create a whole world."
Shaw describes the world she built for Orange as a garden that she and Attacca Quartet are tending. She used the group's centuries-old combination of two violins (Amy Schroeder and Keiko Tokunaga), viola (Nathan Schram), and cello (Andrew Yee) to create a rich environment where traces of what has grown there before—left by Haydn, Mozart, Ravel, Bartok, Bach, Monteverdi, and Josquin—provide nourishment for new life.
"Hints of past years' growth remain in the soil, and so the new growth has been partially shaped by the old," explains Shaw. "The colors are vivid and familiar, and the shapes of the leaves follow a pattern that you seem to know until you don't." She continues, "This album is a celebration of the simple, immediate, unadorned beauty of a natural, everyday, familiar thing."
Hailed for "astonishing both the pop and classical music worlds" by the Guardian, Shaw's list of collaborators is vast and varied, including Kanye West, Nas, The National, Sara Bareilles, Ben Folds, Renée Fleming, Inon Barnatan, Dawn Upshaw, Sō Percussion, Gil Kalish, the Orchestra of St. Luke's with John Lithgow, the Dover Quartet, Brooklyn Rider, and more; she has also appeared on Mozart in the Jungle.
Praised by the Strad as “stunning” and for possessing “a musical maturity far beyond its members’ years,” the internationally acclaimed Attacca Quartet is currently celebrating its sixteenth season as one of America’s premier young performing ensembles. It has served as the Quartet in Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and received numerous awards, including first prize at the seventh Osaka International Chamber Music Competition, top prize and Listeners’ Choice award at the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition, and Grand Prize Winners of the sixtieth annual Coleman Chamber Ensemble Competition. Current highlights include performing at the New York Philharmonic Nightcap Series curated by John Adams and Nadia Sirota, New York’s Lincoln Center White Lights Festival, Carnegie Hall, Gothenburg Konserthuset, Sociedad Filarmonica de Bilbao, Auditorio Nacional de Música, and Palau de la Musica.
When describing the power of performing the works on Orange, Attacca Quartet explains that “playing and listening to Caroline Shaw’s music can turn a concert hall into your own peaceful living room. Between rehearsals and performances, we found ourselves marveling in the unassuming honesty of every passage and the profound effect it has on ourselves and our audiences.”
Produced by Antonio Oliart, Caroline Shaw and Attacca Quartet
Recorded, mixed, engineered, and mastered by Antonio Oliart at WGBH Studios
Executive Producer: Anthony Rudel
Cover photograph by Arthur Moeller
Design by Ben Tousley
Art direction by Andrew Yee
Group photograph by Jorsand Diaz
All songs written by Caroline Shaw
Amy Schroeder, violin
Keiko Tokunaga, violin
Nathan Schram, viola
Andrew Yee, cello