Apr 162013


Contributed photoGreenville native Caroline Shaw won the Pulitzer Prize for music on Monday.

Contributed photo Greenville native Caroline Shaw won the Pulitzer Prize for music on Monday.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Greenville native Caroline Shaw became the youngest composer ever to win the Pulitzer Prize for music on Monday at age 30, giving a surprising twist to her simple afternoon spent just enjoying the sunshine.

Also a violinist and vocalist, Shaw received the award for “Partita for 8 Voices,” an a cappella piece she wrote for the group Roomful of Teeth, in which she sings.

Shaw, who grew up in Greenville and is pursuing her Ph.D. at Princeton University while living in New York, got the first call from a friend who works with Roomful of Teeth informing her that she won.

“I was sitting on the grass on a beautiful day in New York, and suddenly my phone exploded and everyone started calling me,” she said in a phone interview Monday. “I feel very honored and very excited.”

The piece, inspired by Sol LeWitt’s “Wall Drawing 305” and released on Oct. 30, takes a Baroque structure and intertwines the new sounds of the 21st century.

The Pulitzer committee wrote that the work is “a highly polished and inventive a cappella work uniquely embracing speech, whispers, sighs, murmurs, wordless melodies and novel vocal effects.”

Shaw’s belief in the piece and in her ensemble inspired her to submit “Partita” for the competition, but she was not expecting to win.

“I was kind of just hoping that the jury would just get to hear the piece and get to hear Roomful of Teeth and pay some attention to the group,” she said. “I kind of submitted it for some exposure for this ensemble, not thinking that anything would come of it.”

Her mother, Jon Shaw, teaches violin in Greenville and lays claim to being Caroline’s first music and violin teacher. She received a call from a reporter who gave her the news while she was giving lessons Monday afternoon. Once she finally accepted that the call was not some sort of prank, shock set in.

“I was just stunned,” she said. “I literally was just stunned. I couldn’t believe it.”

Jon had not been aware that her daughter had submitted the piece. Though she was surprised to hear the news, she knew that Caroline had a special talent early on.

“It was clear from the start that she was quite gifted as a musician,” said Jon, adding that Joanne Bath, also of Greenville, was instrumental as a music teacher for Caroline in her early years. “She’s been playing the violin since age 2 and has the most accurate, perfect pitch anybody’s ever known.”

It is undoubtable that receiving such a prestigious award will change Shaw’s life in ways she cannot imagine, but after things calmed down on Monday, she carried on with her regular routine, following the music as she always has.

“I’m not really sure, but people say that everything is going to change,” she said, “but for right now, I’m walking to a rehearsal.”

Contact Natalie Sayewich at 252-329-9596 or nsayewich@reflector.com.

via The Daily Reflector.


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