Brian Wise covers the classical music business for WQXR, including aspects of performance, technology, philanthropy and institutional trends. He produces the Café Concerts series and the podcast/show Conducting Business. He manages the station's homepage and makes sure what you hear on air is what you see online. Follow him on Twitter at @Briancwise.
Classical Grammy Awards to Minnesota Orchestra, Dawn Upshaw, Thomas Adès
Sunday, January 26, 2014 - 05:00 PM
Days after ending a nearly crippling, 16-month labor dispute, the Minnesota Orchestra won the Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance on Sunday for its album of Sibelius’s Symphonies Nos. 1 and 4.
Minnesota's album beat out several high-profile contenders including the late Claudio Abbado, who was up for an all-Schumann recording with his Orchestra Mozart. No one from Minnesota was on hand to accept the award, however; the orchestra's music director, Osmo Vänska, suddenly resigned last October in the midst of the lockout.
The Metropolitan Opera won the Grammy for Best Opera Recording, for its DVD of Thomas Adès's opera The Tempest. The set's cast includes Simon Keenlyside, Isabel Leonard, Audrey Luna and Alan Oke, along with the Met Orchestra and Chorus.
"Crikey, it's an honor to be nominated at all," said the British Adès in his acceptance speech, which went on to thank the Met and its musicians.
The awards were given out in a pre-telecast ceremony at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, streamed live on Grammy.com. Contemporary and modern music dominated nearly all of the eight classical categories.
The New York vocal octet Roomful of Teeth (below), who performed on the telecast, won in the Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance category for their self-titled debut album. Last year, member Caroline Shaw received the Pulitzer Prize in Music for Partita, four movements of which appear on the album, which was released on the small New York label New Amsterdam.
"New classical music is well and alive," said conductor Brad Wells, in accepting the Grammy. He thanked his middle school music teacher for instilling in him a love of music of all types.
"Winter Morning Walks," an album-length work by composer Maria Schneider for the soprano Dawn Upshaw, received the most Grammys, including prizes for Best Classical Vocal Solo (for Upshaw), Best Contemporary Classical Composition (for Schneider, below) and Best Engineered Album (for a team led by David Frost). The jazz-inflected recording features the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Australian Chamber Orchestra.
Accepting the award, Schneider spoke fervently about the benefits and drawbacks of technology for musicians. She complained about the ongoing issue of music piracy but noted that "Winter" was paid for by crowd-funding.
Arvo Pärt's mystical, chant-inspired work Adam's Lament won the Grammy for Best Choral Performance. John Corigliano's percussion concerto Conjurer won for Best Classical Instrumental Solo, an album that features the Albany Symphony, soloist Evelyn Glennie and conductor David Allan Miller.
An all-Hindemith recording by the NDR-Sinfonieorchester conducted by Christoph Eschenbach won for Best Classical Compendium.
Minnesota's win comes after the first installment in their Sibelius series – of the Second and Fifth Symphonies – was nominated in 2012 but lost to the San Francisco Symphony's all-John Adams recording. The sessions for the next installment in the planned cycle, Sibelius's Symphonies Nos. 3 and 6, had to be cancelled due to the lockout.
Later on Sunday, the pianist Lang Lang performed with the band Metallica during the televised portion of the Grammys. Below is a video of that performance.