Pulitzer Prize–winning composer Caroline Shaw’s album Orange, for which Attacca Quartet earned a Grammy Award, is available on vinyl for the first time. ‘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. ‘When you hear all the imaginative sounds on Orange, you know you're listening to the voice of a strong composer.’ The album is also nominated for a BBC Music Magazine Award. New Amsterdam and Nonesuch Records first released Orange in April 2019. It features six of Shaw’s pieces for string quartet and is the first full-length album to exclusively feature works by Shaw.
It was 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. 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 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”.
Hailed for ‘astonishing both the pop and classical music worlds’ (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.