Do the Grammy Awards matter? CSO’s ‘Hallowed Ground’ gets mention

Louis Langrée and Maya Angelou in one of her final public appearances
Louis Langrée and Maya Angelou in one of her final public appearances for a live recording in Cincinnati’s Music Hall

In the Grammy Award nominations announced on Friday, the Cincinnati Symphony’s “Hallowed Ground” album with Maya Angelou received just one acknowledgment — as part of a list of albums produced by Elaine Martone, who is up for Classical Producer of the Year. Brava to Ms. Martone, part of the former Telarc team that has produced many CSO and Pops albums. The live performance, recorded in Music Hall in Nov. 2013 during Louis Langrée’s inaugural weekend as music director, was one of Angelou’s final pubic appearances before her death just months later.

Also of local note, Jaime Laredo — co-artistic director of the Linton Series — has been nominated with Jennifer Koh, Vinay Parameswaran and Curtis 20/21 Ensemble for a track from composer Anna Clyne’s Prince Of Clouds albume, entitled “Two X Four.”

The CSO was listed in five categories on the early ballot leading up to the 57th Grammy Awards. I took a look at the list of nominees to see which classical ensembles made the cut. It’s remarkable that the Seattle Symphony’s recording of Dutilleux’s Symphony No. 1 received no fewer than SIX nominations.

An interesting choice, but one which begs the question: What is NARAS looking for? And what about those categories? Erich Kunzel used to complain that there was no category for orchestral pops when he was churning out all of those hit pops albums. It’s a little strange that this year, Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 and Beyoncé are vying for the same prize — Best Surround Sound.

Besides “Lincoln Portrait,” which Angelou narrated, the CSO’s all-American album includes two new works by composers David Lang and Nico Muhly, commissioned for the orchestra’s MusicNOW Festival and premiered in March.

It was released on the orchestra’s own Fanfare Cincinnati label  The winners will be announced live Feb. 8 at Staples Center in Los Angeles and aired on CBS.

Are the Grammy Awards still relevant to classical music? Do they matter? Granted, to say you’ve won an award or nomination still holds some prestige in the world of promotion and publicity. But classical albums, whether or not it’s a major label such as DG or Sony, have been marginalized for years. You’ll find them at the very bottom of the list.


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