Classical Grammy Winners Include a DVD and Download-Only Release

Joyce DiDonato's Speech Calls for Arts Education Support

Sunday, February 12, 2012 - 05:02 PM

The Grammy Awards for classical music were handed out on Sunday in Los Angeles, the first time since the Recording Academy instituted sweeping changes that cut the number of classical categories from eleven to seven. Among those eliminated was the award for best classical album.

In its place, the most high-profile category was arguably that of best orchestral performance, which went to Gustavo Dudamel’s live performance of Brahms’s Fourth Symphony with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Deutsche Grammophon released it only as an iTunes download. It marked the first Grammy win in Dudamel's career.

Joyce DiDonato’s "Diva Divo,” a collection of “trouser” and “skirt” arias won for best classical vocal solo. DiDonato used her acceptance speech to preach for more arts education in schools. "There's a war on in our country against the arts right now," she said. "We need more Whitney Houstons."

There was also an unusual amount of new music among the winners. The award for best opera recording went to Doctor Atomic, the John Adams opera about the Manhattan Project. The recording was a DVD of the Metropolitan Opera’s 2008 production conducted by Alan Gilbert.

Eric Whitacre’s "Light and Gold" picked up the best choral performance honor, and the ensemble Eighth Blackbird won for best small ensemble performance for its recording of Steven Mackey's Lonely Motel.

The classical instrumental solo award went to Joseph Schwantner's Percussion Concerto in a performance featuring New York Philharmonic principal percussionist Christopher Lamb with the Nashville Symphony under Giancarlo Guerrero.

Best contemporary classical composition went to composer Robert Aldridge and librettist Herschel Garfein for their opera Elmer Gantry, based on the Sinclair Lewis novel. That same recording won the award for best engineered classical album, for the work of engineer Jesse Lewis.

In the department of no surprises, Judith Sherman took home the award for classical producer of the year. Sherman is a ten-time Grammy nominee and the winner in that category in 1993 and 2007.

The classical awards were handed out at a ceremony before the telecast.

Last spring, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, which administers the Grammys, narrowed the number of award categories from 109 to 78. The decision was part of a controversial effort to reduce a bloated list that organizers said was reaching an unmanageable length and diminished merit.

Among the deletions were best classical album and best classical crossover album. There were also two mergers: of best instrumental soloist performance with orchestra and best instrumental soloist performance without orchestra into best classical instrumental solo; and best chamber music performance and best small ensemble performance.


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Comments [5]

Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

NOWADAYS ITS POLITICAL AND REACHES DOWN TO THE LOWEST DENOMINATOR. CLASSICAL ARTISTS ARE LISTED IN A SNAKE TRAVELING FAST AT THE VERY CLOSE OF THE PROGRAM. THE SO-CALLED SINGERS ARE MORE SPEAKERS THAN SINGERS AND THEIR VOCAL TIMBRES ARE SIMILARLY UNDISTINGUISHED. The New York City Opera because of the Koch brothers taking over the former State Theater of Lincoln Center appears to be forced to go under. Their orchestra also was one of the best. If young singers have no place to prepare for the big time except to sing in smaller European opera houses, where the interest there is to help their own citizen, then BIG TIME STUPIDITY HAS TAKEN OVER OUR "CULTURE." What is the point of reducing our so called spending budgets to the point where nothing of value exists in the USA? My cousin MICHAEL BLANKFORT wrote both the books and screenplays for the 1953 film THE JUGGLER Hollywood film made in Israel starring KIRK DOUGLAS and the 1950 Hollywood film BROKEN ARROW starring JAMES STEWART and JEFF CHANDLER [Cochise]. The music for THE JUGGLER was composed by opera composer GEORGE ANTHEIL, in whose opera VOLPONE I sang the tenor leading role [Mosca] in its professional world premiere in NEW YORK in 1953. ANTHEIL, famous for his opera TRANSATLANTIC and BALLET MECHANIQUE looked exactly like Peter Lorre. I am a romantischer heldentenor. I have sung four solo concerts in the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall. As part of my Ten Language Solo Debut concert at the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall, I opened my three hour concert with the Invocazione di Orfeo from Jacopo Peri's opera EURIDICE composed in 1600, the first opera, composed in the same year as Shakespeare wrote HAMLET. It, and from the same concert, can be heard my singing Florestan's "Gott, welch Dunkel hier ! from Beethoven's FIDELIO and "Sound an Alarm" from Handel's JUDAS MACXCABAEUS in the live performance on my three websites,, ,, and It received rave critical notices in newspapers and magazines. My voice teachers were the legendary MET OPERA singers Alexander Kipnis, Friedrich Schorr, Frieda Hempel, Martial Singher, John Brownlee, Karin Branzell and Margarete Matzenauer. As an opera composer myself ["Shakespeare" and "The Political Shakespeare"] I fully comprehend the assumed urgency of recognition of the still living. I am the director of the Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute in Boonton, NJ where I train actors in all the Shakespeare roles and big-voiced singers in all the Wagner opera roles. My singing of TRISTAN, GOTTERDAMMERUNG SIEGFRIED, SIEGFRIED, SIEGMUND, RIENZI, LOHENGRIN, WALTHER VON STOLZING PARSIFAL, ELEAZAR, FEDERICO, ORFEO and OTELLO can also be heard at RECORDED SELECTIONS on the

Dec. 25 2012 11:53 PM
Gerry DeChaves from Summit

Forgive me all you popular music lovers but, to include classical music in the Grammy awards, as they are presently configured, is akin to hanging the Mona Lisa at a circus.

Feb. 15 2012 05:38 PM

Thank you, Lloyd. I couldn't take the volume/noise of the Grammy broadcast hoping to hear about anything classical.

Feb. 15 2012 02:21 AM

To Joyce's acceptance speech,DITTO!!!!
We need new marching orders. Let's keep the Arts in the schools, at all cost!
LET'S ROLL for the present and coming generations in public & private schools NOW!!!

Feb. 14 2012 01:02 PM
Lloyd Rotker from NYC

Apparently also among the deletions was the mere mention of the classical winners. Watching the telecast, a viewer would not even know that classical music exists. TV may not be the best venue for the performance of classical music, especially alongside pop spectacle, but a little respect is due.

Feb. 13 2012 03:54 PM

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