About a year ago, vocal octet Roomful of Teeth offered the first complete NYC performance of Caroline Shaw's Pulitzer Prize-winning Partita for 8 Voices. Not long after, they performed it again during the Winter Jazzfest, right before they headed out to L.A., where they picked up the GRAMMY for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance.
But, even though last night's appearance by Roomful of Teeth at Lincoln Center's White Light Festival was the third time we've heard Partita in less than a year, it took nothing away from the music's magic, or it's power to astonish. If anything, last night's performance exhibited far more energy and tightness: throughout, most of the singers hardly looked at their music stands as they belted, yodeled and growled their way through Caroline's half-hour long masterwork. For those who were hearing it live for the first time, it was probably somewhat of a surprise to see Caroline, still very young looking at 32, step forward for her charmingly awkward curtain call. (If you don't already have the recording, you can hear Partita streaming on Caroline's website.)