February 11, 2019
Basic fact No. 1 about the Grammys: Grammy is not an acronym, it’s abbreviated from “Gramophone Award,” now a word meaning “a small statue that is given as an award to someone who works in the business of recording music.”
Fact No. 2: Classical music is not a priority for the Recording Academy, which runs the Grammy Awards.
When you go the website for the 61st Grammy Awards, which were given out Sunday night in a telecast seen on NBC TV, you need to scroll down to category 73 to see nominations and winners in classical music. There, you’ll find these winners, including some neighbors:
Best Engineered Album, Classical, An Engineer’s Award (Artist names appear in parentheses): Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 4 and 11 — [Berkeley-based] Shawn Murphy and Nick Squire, engineers; Tim Martyn, mastering engineer (Andris Nelsons and Boston Symphony Orchestra)
Best Orchestral Performance (Award to the conductor and to the orchestra): Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 4 and 11 — Andris Nelsons, conductor (Boston Symphony Orchestra). Other nominees included local favorite Schumann: Symphonies Nos. 1–4 — Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor (San Francisco Symphony).
Best Opera Recording: The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs (Mason Bates) — Michael Christie, conductor; Sasha Cooke, Jessica E. Jones, Edward Parks, Garrett Sorenson and Wei Wu; Elizabeth Ostrow, producer (The Santa Fe Opera Orchestra) Co-commissioning San Francisco Opera has the production scheduled in the summer of 2020.
Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance: Landfall — Laurie Anderson and Kronos Quartet
Best Classical Instrumental Solo: Aaron Jay Kernis: Violin Concerto — James Ehnes; Ludovic Morlot, conductor (Seattle Symphony)
Best Contemporary Classical Composition: Aaron Jay Kernis: Violin Concerto — Aaron Jay Kernis, composer (James Ehnes, Ludovic Morlot and Seattle Symphony)
Best Classical Solo Vocal Album: Songs of Orpheus — Monteverdi, Caccini, D’India and Landi — Karim Sulayman; Jeannette Sorrell, conductor; Apollo’s Fire, ensembles
Best Classical Compendium: Fuchs: Piano Concerto “Spiritualist”; Poems of Life; Glacier; Rush — JoAnn Falletta, conductor; Tim Handley, producer (with SFO Adler Fellow Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen)
In related categories, there are these winners:
Best Musical Theater Album: The Band’s Visit — Etai Benson, Adam Kantor, Katrina Lenk and Ari’el Stachel, principal soloists; Dean Sharenow and David Yazbek, producers; David Yazbek, composer and lyricist (Original Broadway Cast)
Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media: Black Panther — Ludwig Göransson, composer
Best Instrumental Composition: “Blut und Boden” (Blood and Soil) — Terence Blanchard, composer
Best Arrangement, Instrumental or a Cappella: “Stars and Stripes Forever” — John Daversa, arranger (John Daversa Big Band Featuring DACA Artists)
Best Album Notes: Voices of Mississippi: Artists and Musicians Documented by William Ferris — David Evans, album notes writer (Various Artists)
In other categories, S.F. Bay Area winners include:
H.E.R. (Gabriella Wilson) from Vallejo won Best R&B Performance for her feature on Daniel Caesar’s song “Best Part,” and also won Best R&B Album for her self-titled project H.E.R. She was nominated for five total awards.
Oakland’s Fantastic Negrito (Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz) won the award for Best Contemporary Blues Album for his second full-length album Please Don’t Be Dead.
Oakland-based metal band High on Fire won Best Metal Performance for Electric Messiah.