Gabriel Kahane, Caroline Shaw & Attacca Quartet

voice, piano, and string quartet

May 3, 2020, 4 PM

Music Room

Two dynamic composer-performers known for their hybrid musical styles, Gabriel Kahane and Caroline Shaw join the brilliant Attacca Quartet for a special collaboration. Kahane’s music defies easy categorization; he is equally at home composing string quartets and chamber works for the concert hall as he is writing albums of harmonically intricate indie-pop, shifting seamlessly between both idioms. Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw has built a reputation for her ceaselessly inventive, collage-like approach to composition. Her 2019 album Orange presents six works for string quartet performed by the Attacca Quartet. The music of Orange is both connected to the past and rooted in the present, with elusive, fragmented source material drawn from the string quartet writing of Haydn, Mozart, or Bartók, synthesized with Shaw’s modern sound, conjuring a sonic world at once familiar yet radically new. The ensemble presents music from Caroline Shaw’s Orange and Gabriel Kahane’s Book of Travelers.

Full program to be announced. 

The day after the 2016 presidential election, singer-songwriter Gabriel Kahane boarded a train at Penn Station and traveled 8,980 miles around the continental US, talking to dozens of strangers in an attempt to better understand his country and fellow citizens. The resulting album, Book of Travelers (Nonesuch Records)—hailed by Rolling Stone as “a stunning portrait of a singular moment in America”—is at once a prayer for empathy and reconciliation, as well as an unflinching examination of the complex and often troubled history of the US. 

Gabriel has collaborated with a diverse array of artists, including Sufjan Stevens, Andrew Bird, Blake Mills, Chris Thile, Punch Brothers, and Paul Simon, for whom he arranged “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” heard throughout Simon’s farewell tour this year. As a composer, he has been commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Carnegie Hall, A Far Cry, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. For the Oregon Symphony, he wrote emergency shelter intake form, a nearly hour-long oratorio confronting the resurgence of deep poverty in America, and in particular, the national crises of housing insecurity and homelessness. That work premiered in May of 2018 and was recorded shortly thereafter for release in 2019. Other orchestral highlights have included solo appearances with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Colorado Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and The Knights, with whom Gabriel recorded his orchestral song cycle Crane Palimpsest, following a performance at Tanglewood’s Ozawa Hall.

An avid theater artist, Kahane has appeared twice at the BAM Next Wave Festival, in 2014 with the critically-lauded staged version of The Ambassador, directed by Tony-winner John Tiffany; and returning in 2017 with 8980: Book of Travelers, directed by Daniel Fish. He is also the composer-lyricist of the musical February House, which premiered in 2012 at the Public Theater. This fall, he makes his Broadway debut with an original score for Kenneth Lonergan’s The Waverly Gallery, starring Elaine May, Lucas Hedges, Michael Cera, and Joan Allen. A graduate of Brown University and two-time MacDowell Colony fellow, Gabriel lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Caroline Shaw is a New York-based musician—vocalist, violinist, composer, and producer—who performs in solo and collaborative projects. She was the youngest recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2013 for Partita for 8 Voices, written for the Grammy-winning Roomful of Teeth, of which she is a member. Recent commissions include new works for Renée Fleming with Inon Barnatan, Dawn Upshaw with Sō Percussion and Gil Kalish, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s with John Lithgow, the Dover Quartet, TENET, The Crossing, the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, the Calidore Quartet, Brooklyn Rider, the Baltimore Symphony, and Roomful of Teeth with A Far Cry. The 2018/19 season saw premieres by pianist Jonathan Biss with the Seattle Symphony, Anne Sofie von Otter with Philharmonia Baroque, the LA Philharmonic, and Juilliard 415. Shaw’s film scores include Erica Fae’s To Keep the Light and Josephine Decker’s Madeline’s Madeline as well as the upcoming short 8th Year of the Emergency by Maureen Towey. She has produced for Kanye West (The Life of Pablo; Ye) and Nas (NASIR), and has contributed to records by The National, and by Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry. Once she got to sing in three part harmony with Sara Bareilles and Ben Folds at the Kennedy Center, and that was pretty much the bees’ knees and elbows. Caroline has studied at Rice, Yale, and Princeton, currently teaches at NYU, and is a Creative Associate at the Juilliard School. She has held residencies at Dumbarton Oaks, the Banff Centre, Music on Main, and the Vail Dance Festival. Caroline loves the color yellow, otters, Beethoven Op. 74, Mozart opera, Kinhaven, the smell of rosemary, and the sound of a janky mandolin.

Praised by The Strad for encompassing “maturity beyond its members’ years,” the internationally acclaimed Attacca Quartet is one of the most dynamic ensembles of their generation. As stated by The Washington Post “Mastery like this is scarce enough in quartets that have played together for decades.”

Touring extensively in the US, recent and upcoming highlights include Carnegie Hall Neighborhood Concerts, Wolf Trap, Carolina Performing Arts, Chamber Music Detroit, and a residency at the National Sawdust, Brooklyn. This season, they also make their debut appearing in the New York Philharmonic’s newly announced Nightcap series and will perform a series of Beethoven String Quartet cycles both at the historic University of Buffalo’s Slee Beethoven Quartet Cycle series and at the New York and Trinity Lutheran Church, Manhattan, where they have a longstanding partnership. The Attacca Quartet has also served as Juilliard’s Graduate Resident String Quartet, the Quartet-in-Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Ensemble-in-Residence at the School of Music at Texas State University.

Outside of the US, recent performances include Gothenburg Konserthuset, Sociedad Filarmónica de Bilbao, and tours to Japan, Central, and South America: they will return to the latter in summer 2019 for dates in Peru and Chile. In addition, the Quartet have performed John Adams’s Absolute Jest with the Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya and Orquesta Nacional de España, under the baton of the composer, and with Marin Alsop at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music.

Passionate advocates of contemporary repertoire, the Quartet are dedicated to presenting and recording new works. Their most recent recording project features string quartet works by Pulitzer-prize winning composer Caroline Shaw, Orange which was released in April 2019. Previous recordings include three critically acclaimed albums with Azica Records, including a disc of Michael Ippolito’s string quartets, and the complete works for string quartet by John Adams. The latter was praised by Steve Smith of The New York Times as a “vivacious, compelling set,” and described the Attacca Quartet’s playing as “exuberant, funky, and … exactingly nuanced.” The album was the recipient of the 2013 National Federation of Music Clubs Centennial Chamber Music Award. Additional awards for their recordings include both the Arthur Foote Award from the Harvard Musical Association and Lotos Prize in the Arts from the Stecher and Horowitz Foundation. 

Other accolades include First Prize at the 7th Osaka International Chamber Music Competition, the Top Prize and Listeners’ Choice award winners for the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition, and Grand Prize Winners of the 60th annual Coleman Chamber Ensemble Competition.

The Attacca Quartet has engaged in extensive educational and community outreach projects, serving as guest artists and teaching fellows at the Lincoln Center Institute, the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, and Bravo! Vail Valley, among others.