Caroline Shaw on music

Pulitzer prize winning composer, Caroline Shaw is writing a new piece for piano quartet to be premiered in our 2017-18 At Lunch series. She’s taken some time out from her busy schedule to answer a few questions on music and her life.

What’s your earliest musical memory?
My mother placing my fingers on the violin strings

What has inspired you most recently?
The way great actors use timing and the intonation of their voice so masterfully in live theater. I’ve been going to a lot of plays lately.

What advice would you give to aspiring composers?
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. create the world that you want to see.

What would you like to be recognised for?
Having successfully grown a melon on a fire escape in Hell’s Kitchen. (note: I have not done this yet, but I love trying.)

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
I don’t believe in guilt when it comes to loving music. There is so much guilt elsewhere in our lives (ok, the answer you are looking for is probably Adele’s “Hello,” but I REALLY don’t feel guilty about that AT all).

If you turned your iPod on now, what would be playing?
 “Ocean Surf: Waves at Point Lobos, California” from Pacific Rim Nature Sounds.

The last concert you saw or performed in?
Saw the Brooklyn Youth Chorus at BAM, in their beautiful show, “Silent Voices”

Which musical instrument do you wish you could play, and why?
Taiko drums, because TAIKO DRUMS. But I would make a drum that was three times the diameter of a standard taiko, and playing it properly would involve some bungee cord and pendulum motion. I haven’t fully worked this concept out yet.

If you hadn’t been a musician what might have happened, or not happened, in your life and career?
I think I would be working in public radio, and I would have grown a prize-winning melon on my fire escape years ago.

Caroline’s new work is premiered during our At Lunch Three tour at London’s Wigmore Hall, Cambridge’s West Road Concert Hall and Norwich’s St Andrews Hall.

You can help support Caroline’s commission from as little as £10 via our Musically Gifted scheme. You’ll get you name in the score along with a whole host of other benefits.