Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Caroline Shaw at the Fox Cabaret

Last night Caroline Shaw concluded her year as composer-in-residence at Music on Main with a performance called "One Night Stand," part of MoM's "Month of Tuesdays" at the Fox Cabaret. The show featured a range of Shaw's compositions, including two pieces--"Valencia" and "Entr'acte"--performed by the immensely talented Emily Carr String Quartet; "Entr'acte," with a long plucked sequence and a beautiful coda for solo cello (played by Alasdair Money), was especially captivating.

Pianist David Kaplan also excelled in his performance of two of Shaw's "conversations" with nineteenth-century composers, in this case Robert Schumann and Frédéric Chopin. As is increasingly common at concerts these days, Kaplan read his sheet music from an iPad; in conversation with him at intermission we learned that he controls the turning of the pages with an extra foot pedal that is synched to the iPad through Bluetooth.

Throughout the evening, Shaw also improvised on violin, including in a wonderful duet with local dancer Vanessa Goodman. The duo will reprise their collaboration on Thursday as part of Dances for a Small Stage's Salon Series at the Emerald Room, and I was excited to hear in Shaw's stage patter last night that she and Goodman are planning to work together again in the future.

The final piece on the program was an excerpt of three songs from Shaw's By and By series, her setting of traditional bluegrass spirituals. Shaw was accompanied by Kaplan on piano and the Emily Carr String Quartet, but it was the purity of her own voice that resonated most with me. A triple threat as a composer, violinist and singer, Vancouver has been lucky to have this Pulitzer Prize-winner in our midst this past year. Here's hoping she visits again soon.


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