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Grammy Award Winners Celebrate

January 28, 2020

It was a big night for Angelenos at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards, a ceremony also tinged with sadness at the news that Lakers basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year old daughter Gianna — along with seven others — had perished in a helicopter crash earlier that day.

Beginning on a somber note, the evening also proved that music does heal, with L.A. sensation, 18-year-old Billie Eilish, also an alumnus of the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, sweeping the four most important award categories – Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Best New Artist, and Song of the Year. Eilish’s brother, Finneas O’Connell, also snagged Producer of the Year and an engineering award, hoisting his trophy and proudly declaring, “This is to all the kids that are making music in their bedroom today. You’re going to get one of these.”

On the classical side, Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s recording of the world premiere of Andrew Norman’s Sustain earned the Grammy for Best Orchestral Performance, which was recorded live in October 2018 at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Norman, on faculty at the USC Thornton School of music and director of the LA Phil’s Barry and Nancy Sanders Composer Fellowship Program, has been a staple at the Philharmonic, his music having first been presented by the organization in 2010.

Dudamel hailed Norman as “an extraordinary talent and vital member of our LA Phil family,” while Norman said that collaborating with the Venezuelan-born maestro and the orchestra had “brought my piece to life in a completely magical way, and I am very grateful for all the work they do to move this art form forward.”

Further North, the San Francisco-based Reference Recordings, a multiple nominee this year, also had cause to celebrate: Nadia Shpachenko’s The Poetry of Places, produced by Marina and Victor Ledin, regular nominees in past years, took top Grammy honors in the Classical Compendium category.

Featuring world-premiere recordings of works for solo piano, and for two pianos, percussion, electronics, voice, and toy piano in an intriguing blend inspired by great architecture and places, Shpachenko’s CD comprises eight compositions, including an Andrew Norman work, Frank’s House, a celebration of Frank Gehry, the architect of Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Adding to her Grammy wins was bassist/singer Esperanza Spalding, whose 12 Little Spells was named Jazz Vocal Album of the Year, while Chick Corea and the Spanish Heart Band’s Antidote earned the Latin Jazz Album award.

All but nine of the Grammys’ 84 awards were given out before the television broadcast, including Best Opera Recording, which went to the Boston Modern Orchestra Project’s recording of Tobias Picker’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. For a complete list of the winners, click here.

Victoria Looseleaf is an award-winning international arts journalist who covers dance, music, theater and the visual arts. Publications she has contributed to include the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and KCET Artbound. Her feminist novella in verse, Isn’t It Rich? is being adapted for the stage, and her children’s/coffee table book, Russ & Iggy’s Art Alphabet, will soon be published by Red Sky Presents. In addition, Looseleaf co-founded the online magazine ArtNowLA.