2003 Grammys Announced: American Composers Shut Out

This morning, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Inc. announced the Final Nominations List for the 45th Annual Grammy® Awards. However, the music of contemporary American composers is, as usual, largely under-represented.

Of the five works nominated for “Best Classical Contemporary Composition” (given to a living composer for a work issued on a recording in the past year), only two of the composers are Americans. John Adams has been nominated for his 1998 orchestral work Naïve and Sentimental Music, which is performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic under the direction of Esa-Pekka Salonen on a Nonesuch recording. Argentinean émigré Osvaldo Golijov has been nominated for Yiddishbbuk Inscriptions for String Quartet which appears on an EMI Recording in a performance by the St. Lawrence String Quartet. (The other nominees are British composer John Tavener for his Lamentations and Praises [Teldec], Arvo Pärt for Orient-Occident [ECM], and Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina for her Johannes Passion [Hännsler].)

A few other works by contemporary American composers snuck into other categories. A Bridge recording of Elliott Carter‘s song cycle Tempo e Tempi sung by Susan Narucki was nominated for “Best Classical Vocal Performance.” Another Bridge recording featuring pianist David Holtzman‘s performances of little-known piano music by émigré composer Stefan Wolpe (1902-1972), whose centennial is being celebrated this concert season, has been nominated for “Best Instrumental Soloist Performance Without Orchestra.” A new recording of Samuel Barber‘s ubiquitous Violin Concerto, performed by James Buswell with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra conducted by Marin Alsop (Naxos American Classics), has been nominated for “Best Instrumental Soloist Performance With Orchestra.” A recording of orchestral works by 19th century American composer George Whitefield Chadwick (1854-1931), also on Naxos American Classics, was nominated by “Best Engineered Album” (for the work of John Newton). Golijov’s Yiddishbbuk was additionally nominated for “Best Chamber Music Performance.”

In the Jazz Categories, the nominations for “Best Contemporary Jazz Album” (awarded to an album containing 51% or more playing time of instrumental tracks) went to: Larry Carlton for Deep Into It (Warner Bros.); Pat Metheny for Speaking of Now (Warner Bros); Joe Zawinul for Faces & Places (ESC Records); the Jon Scofield band for Überjam (Verve); and The Yellowjackets for Mint Jam (Buzz Promotions). Patty Austin, Natalie Cole, Diana Krall, Brazilian singer/songwriter Luciana Souza, and the late Etta Jones were nominated for “Best Jazz Vocal Album.” American Music Center Board Member Dave Douglas was nominated for “Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group” for his album The Infinite (Bluebird). The other nominees are: McCoy Tyner Plays John Coltrane Live at the Village Vanguard (Impulse); pianist Herbie Hancock, saxophonist Michael Brecker and trumpeter Roy Hargrove for their live Massey Hall recording Directions in Music (Verve); Wayne Shorter for Footprints Live (Verve); and pianist Michel Camilo for Triangulo (Telarc Jazz). The late Slide Hampton received a posthumous nomination for “Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album” for his Jazz Matinee recorded with the SWR Big Band for Hänssler. The other contenders are for the title are: the Dave Holland Big Band for What Goes Around? (ECM); the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra (which has been featured in a Web cast on NewMusicBox) for Can I Persuade You? (Planet Arts Recording); the Mingus Big Band for Tonight at Noon…Three or Four Shades of Love (Dreyfus Jazz); and Sammy Nestico for This Is The Moment (Fenwood Music, Inc.). Another posthumous nomination went to late pianist Tommy Flanagan for “Best Jazz Instrumental Solo” for his contribution to the compilation album A Great Night in Harlem (Playboy Jazz). The additional nominations for this award, which can be given to more than one performer on any album, went to soloists on albums nominated for other categories stated above: Michael Brecker and Herbie Hancock were both nominated for their work on the Directions in Music album as was Pat Metheny, and Pete Christlieb who appears on Sammy Nestico’s This Is The Moment.

The original cast album of Marc Shaiman‘s Hairspray along with cast albums of the 2002 revival of Stephen Sondheim‘s Into The Woods, and and Jeanine Tesori‘s Thoroughly Modern Millie, as well as the 50th anniversary production of Frank Loesser‘s Guys and Dolls, and were nominated for “Best Musical Show Album.” Composers nominated for the “Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media” are: James Horner (for the soundtrack to A Beautiful Mind); John Williams (for the soundtrack to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone); Howard Shore (for the soundtrack to The Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring); Randy Newman (for the Monsters, Inc. soundtrack); and Danny Elfman (for the Spiderman soundtrack).

You might also enjoy…