The music of vocalist, violinist, composer and producer Caroline Shaw is being heard on six separate programs during this summer season at Caramoor in Katonah. Shaw, the youngest recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Music — when she was just 30 — has as recent commissions new works for Renee Fleming, Dawn Upshaw and So Percussion; the Cover and Calidore String Quartet; the Orchestra of St. Luke’s; and the Baltimore Symphony.
The spotlight on Shaw’s music at Caramoor this summer centers on the New York premiere of her piano concerto, “Watermark,” co-commissioned by Caramoor, with Jonathan Biss and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, in a performance Sunday, July 7.
Other works by Shaw featured this summer at Caramoor are “By and By,” sung by bass-baritone Davóne Tines with the Dover Quartet on Friday, July 12; the string orchestra version of her 2011 string quartet “Entr’acte,” played by A Far Cry on Friday, July 19; and “Blueprint,” written for the Aizuri Quartet in 2016 and recorded on its Grammy-nominated 2018 album, “Blueprinting,” Sunday, July 21, part of Caramoor’s third annual Chamber Feast.
Kathy Schuman, Caramoor vice president, artistic programming and executive producer, said she first became aware of Shaw’s music in 2013, when Shaw won the Pulitzer for “Partita for 8 Voices,” which was featured in a sold-out concert at Caramoor June 28.
“I guess that’s when most people heard about her. I’ve been a fan ever since and when I heard she was writing a piano concerto for Jonathan Biss, I jumped at the chance to have Caramoor join the commissioners,” Schuman said.
She added, “Jonathan has a long history with Caramoor, having been an Evnin Rising Star in 1998, and he’s performed here many times since then, including an earlier installment of his Beethoven/5 project.”
With those arrangements completed, Schuman continued, “I thought it would be nice to spotlight Caroline’s music throughout the summer, which was very easy since we have a number of artists coming who are close to her.”
Schuman cited the work of the Aizuri Quartet, Tines, pianist Timo Andres (who performed June 20 at Caramoor), A Far Cry and Roomful of Teeth, of which Shaw is a member.
“The first thing I ever heard Davóne (Tines) sing was ‘By and By’ about three years ago and I was absolutely floored by his performance,” she said. “He is another extraordinary artist doing some very interesting projects right now.”
In an article commissioned for this year’s Caramoor summer season program, music writer and author Matthew Guerrieri noted that Shaw was born in North Carolina in 1982 and began violin lessons when she was 2 years old. The “honor and attention” given Shaw after she won the Pulitzer “were a launchpad, but for a thoroughly individual trajectory,” Guerrieri wrote, adding, “Shaw has moved between the traditional classical world of orchestral commissions and artist residences and more changeable media: popular music, television, film.”
“We’re really lucky to be hosting the New York premiere of Caroline’s new concerto,” Schuman commented. “Caroline has become so in demand at this point that it’s going to be hard for anyone to get a commission from her in the next few years. I hope our audience will catch some of her works now at Caramoor, so they can join us in watching her exciting career develop.”
In addition to performing Shaw’s “Watermark” Sunday, July 7, at 4 p.m. in the Venetian Theater, Biss and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s will offer Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37 and Mozart’s Symphony No. 38 in D, K. 504 (“Prague”).
The Dover Quartet with bass-baritone Tines, performing Friday, July 12, at 8 p.m. in the Spanish Courtyard, will offer work by Mendelssohn, Barber and Dvorak in addition to Shaw’s “By and By.” A Far Cry, performing Friday, July 19, at 8 p.m. in the Venetian Theater, will give audience members the opportunity to enjoy Muffat’s Concerto Grosso No. 12 in G, “Propitia Sydera” in addition to Gabriela Lena Frank’s excerpts from “Leyendas: an Andean Walkabout” and Shaw’s “Entr’acte.”
Finally, Caramoor’s third annual Chamber Feast, Sunday, July 21, at 4 p.m., features the Aizuri Quartet performing Mozart’s String Quartet in E-flat, K. 614 and Brahms’ Piano Quartet in F minor, Op. 34, in addition to Shaw’s “Blueprint.”
For tickets and more information, call 232-1252 or visit caramoor.org.
Caramoor is located at 149 Girdle Ridge Road, Katonah.