SF Symphony Collaborative Partners
Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Collaborative Partners are nominated for Throughline | Courtesy of SF Symphony

If awards were given to Awards Making Headlines, the Grammys would be near the top, certainly not above the scandal of the Golden Globes, but on par with the Oscars, and the Recording Academy is trying to do something about it.

As nominations for the 64th Annual Grammy Awards were announced today, The New York Times noted, “The ceremony will be the first since the awards made a major change to its nominating process: In late April, the board of the Recording Academy, the governing body of the Grammys, voted to eliminate the use of anonymous expert committees to whittle down the final ballot in dozens of categories, a practice that had been in place since 1989.

“The Grammys have been criticized in recent years by prominent artists including Jay-Z, Drake, Kanye West, and Frank Ocean, who amplified concerns that Black artists have been routinely passed over in the top all-genre categories.”

Today, the nominations; on Jan. 31, the awards. It will stream live on the CBS Television Network from 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and on demand on Paramount+.

As behooves San Francisco Classical Voice, we focus on classical music, however low on the Grammys’ lists it may be. But first, the “whole picture”: Jon Batiste has 11 — 11! — nominations, followed by Doja Cat, Justin Bieber, Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo, H.E.R., Brandi Carlile, and the amazing partnership of Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga.

Conductor Georg Solti and Beyoncé
Conductor Georg Solti, who died in 1997, remains the Grammys champion, with 74 nominations and 31 awards; Beyoncé is No. 2, catching up

In the classical world, the two musical colossuses of California, the San Francisco Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic, are in contention, as usual.

The SF Symphony is nominated for recordings on the orchestra’s in-house SFS Media Label for two 2022 Grammy Awards:

– The live-concert recording of Alban Berg: Violin Concerto, Seven Early Songs, and Three Pieces for Orchestra, conducted by Music Director Laureate Michael Tilson Thomas and featuring violinist Gil Shaham and soprano Susanna Phillips, in the category of “Best Classical Compendium”

– The recording of Nico Muhly’s Throughline, with contributions from all eight of the San Francisco Symphony’s Collaborative Partners, led by Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen, in the category of “Best Orchestral Performance.”

These are the 25th and 26th Grammy nominations for the San Francisco Symphony; the orchestra has won 16 Grammy Awards, nine since launching the in-house SFS Media label in 2001.

Recordings by two local composers were also nominated: Jake Heggie is the composer and pianist for mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton’s recital disc Unexpected Shadows, nominated for “Best Classical Solo Vocal Album”; works by Berkeley composer John Adams are nominated for “Best Orchestral Performance,” performed by the Nashville Symphony, conducted by Giancarlo Guerrero.

A monumental recording by the LA Phil, Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, has nominations in two categories, “Best Choral Performance” and “Best Engineered Album, Classical.” Music Director Gustavo Dudamel conducted the performances, featuring the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, Los Angeles Master Chorale, Pacific Chorale, and the National Children’s Chorus besides the Philharmonic for the “Symphony of a Thousand.”

SF Symphony Music Director Salonen received another nomination in his role as the LA Phil’s Conductor Laureate, along with soprano Nora Fischer, for the performance of Louis Andriessen’s The Only One, in the “Best Contemporary Classical Composition” category.

San Francisco’s Chanticleer is also in the “Best Engineered Album, Classical” category with its Chanticleer Sings Christmas, Leslie Ann Jones, engineer.

And a recording of “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Los Angeles choral group Tonality and Artistic Director Alexander Lloyd Blake is nominated under “Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals.”

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