Caroline Shaw: Winter Carol

Written by Benjamin Sosland

In category: Song of the Day

Published February 7, 2018

Back in the day, specialization in music was unheard of. To be a musician was to be a composer, performer, multi-instrumentalist (hello, Mozart), improviser, and/or impresario. If you played the oboe in a Baroque orchestra, for example, you probably also played the recorder, and you may have sung as well. Caroline Shaw is a modern-day incarnation of this ideal—a remarkably versatile musician who is expert at many things. She is a violinist, singer, and composer (winning the Pulitzer Prize at the ripe old age of 30, in 2013.) Here is an example of her work that I recently came across. Shaw has a penchant for choral and ensemble writing—her Pulitzer was for Partita for Eight Voices—and I particularly love the mesmerizing counterpoint of this simple round. And it’s an example of audience participation, a genre that usually makes me run for the hills, that actually works. It’s a live performance so not every moment is picture-perfect, but the joy that radiates from the piece is palpable. Here Shaw builds a community with just a few simple lines of melody.

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Benjamin Sosland holds several artistic and administrative positions that reflect a wide-ranging musical curiosity. As the founding administrative director of Juilliard Historical Performance, he has been responsible for creating, implementing, and overseeing the School’s newest degree program, which The New York Times has credited for the renaissance in early music in New York. Under his leadership, the department has established itself as one of the leading programs of its kind, combining a rigorous curriculum with frequent performances on the national and international stage. Mr. Sosland has helped develop key partnerships with Les Arts Florissants, the English Concert, the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, and with the Utrecht Early Music Festival where Juilliard was the first-ever conservatory-in-residence. He is a frequent preconcert lecturer at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center and he has served on the jury at the Van Wassaenar International Early Music Competition. He has been the research associate and program editor for the New York Festival of Song and a score consultant for the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD series of satellite transmissions since this groundbreaking series of broadcasts began. Trained as a tenor, he has performed with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the Gotham Chamber Opera, and American Opera Projects and has been the guest of several summer music festivals, including the Marlboro Music Festival, the Ravinia Festival’s Steans Institute for Young Artists, and the Aspen and Bowdoin Summer Music Festivals. Mr. Sosland holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and The Juilliard School, where he is the assistant dean for the Kovner Fellowships, overseeing the school’s elite scholarship program, and a member of the Graduate Studies faculty. His course offerings have included such topics as entrepreneurship for musicians, the dramatic works of Monteverdi, Paris between the wars, and the literary operas of Benjamin Britten.


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