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Classical Philadelphia scores big in Grammy nominations

Artists affiliated with Temple University, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Curtis Institute of Music are represented.

Pianist Yuja Wang
Pianist Yuja WangRead more

Philadelphia dominated the 2020 Grammy Award nominations across several classical-music categories.

The Philadelphia-based Crossing choir and its director, Donald Nally, scored big with two nominations for best choral performance — for its Voyages recording of works by Benjamin C.S. Boyle and Robert Convery and its recording of Kile Smith’s The Arc in the Sky.

Both Boyle and Smith are Philadelphians, and Convery studied at the Curtis Institute.

“This is nice, to have some kind of an imprimatur from people you respect and love,” said Smith, for whom this is a first Grammy nomination. “To be seen along with all these other names is a real nice honor.”

The talent in several categories has Philadelphia-connected artists going up against each other.

Two Academy of Vocal Arts-trained singers, Joyce DiDonato and Stephen Costello, were nominated for best classical solo vocal album.

In the best classical instrumental solo spot, Curtis Institute-trained pianist Yuja Wang was nominated for her The Berlin Recital album; the Harp Concerto by Curtis professor Jennifer Higdon brought harpist Yolanda Kondonassis a nod in a performance by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Ward Stare; and violinist Nicola Benedetti was nominated for her performance with Cristian Măcelaru conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in Wynton Marsalis’ Violin Concerto.

The Higdon Harp Concerto and Marsalis Violin Concerto are also both nominated for best contemporary classical composition, along with Julia Wolfe’s Fire in My Mouth in a recording of the piece by the New York Philharmonic, the Crossing, and the Young People’s Chorus of New York City led by Jaap Van Zweden.

Wolfe’s piece also delivered a nomination for best engineered album, classical.

Temple University made its mark in the nominations list for “Love, A Beautiful Force,” which features director of jazz studies Terell Stafford, professor Dick Oatts, and the Temple University Studio Orchestra. The album drew a nomination for Vince Mendoza for best arrangement, instrumental or a capella; and for best instrumental composition.