60th Annual GRAMMY Awards (New Music) Winners

Let’s take a look at the classical music winners from the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards, and specifically the new music winners! There were some big wins for women in new music, so we will start with them.

Two big wins for Jennifer Higdon: Best Classical Compendium and Best Contemporary Classical Composition

Jennifer Higdon (photo: J.D. Scott)

Best Classical Compendium

WINNER Higdon: All Things Majestic, Viola Concerto & Oboe Concerto, Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor; Tim Handley, producer

ICIYL’s Larry and Arlene Dunn spoke with Jennifer Higdon ahead of the premiere of her Viola Concerto back in 2015. Read the interview here.

Other notable new music nominees in the Classical Compendium category included pianist Lucy Mauro’s Mademoiselle: Première Audience – Unknown Music Of Nadia Boulanger and Kurtág: Complete Works For Ensemble & Choir conducted by Reinbert de Leeuw (reviewed by ICIYL’s Thea Derks here).

Best Contemporary Classical Composition

WINNER Viola Concerto – Jennifer Higdon, composer, (Roberto Díaz, Giancarlo Guerrero & Nashville Symphony), Track from: Higdon: All Things Majestic, Viola Concerto & Oboe Concerto

Other nominees included Concerto For Orchestra by Zhou Tian, Picture Studies by Adam Schoenberg, Requiem by Tigran Mansurian, and Songs Of Solitude by Richard Danielpour.

Higdon: All Things Majestic, Viola Concerto & Oboe Concerto
Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor (Nashville Symphony Orchestra); Tim Handley, producer

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Equally exciting win for new music: Barbara Hannigan wins Best Classical Solo Vocal Album

Soprano Barbara Hannigan

Soprano Barbara Hannigan (photo credit: concertgebouw.nl)

Best Classical Solo Vocal Album

WINNER Crazy Girl Crazy – Music By Gershwin, Berg & Berio, Barbara Hannigan (Orchestra Ludwig)

Step aside Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, and Mahler–Barbara Hannigan is effortlessly making Berio feel like accessible vocal music. Hannigan’s talent as a vocalist (and a conductor) knows no bounds, and new music is fortunate to have such a dedicated talent.

For more from Barbara Hannigan, listen to this excerpt from Hans Abrahamsen’s Let me tell you, and read about her performance in George Benjamin’s Written on Skin in review by ICIYL’s Rebecca Lentjes.

Crazy Girl Crazy – Music By Gershwin, Berg & Berio
Barbara Hannigan (Orchestra Ludwig)

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Best Opera Recording

Berg: Wozzeck, Hans Graf, conductor; Anne Schwanewilms & Roman Trekel; Hans Graf & Brad Sayles, producers (Houston Symphony; Chorus Of Students And Alumni, Shepherd School Of Music, Rice University & Houston Grand Opera Children’s Chorus)

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In a year that included recordings of Gregory Spears’ Fellow Travelers and Du Yun’s Pulitzer Prize winning Angel’s Bone, this category feels like the biggest missed opportunity for new music.

Though it’s somewhat encouraging to see Berg win in a category that also included Bizet, Handel, and Rimsky-Korsakov, The Recording Academy is still about 100 years behind in recognizing truly outstanding work in the field of opera.


Best Choral Performance

Bryars: The Fifth Century
Donald Nally, conductor (PRISM Quartet; The Crossing)

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Gavin Bryars has been a staple of the UK new music scene for several decades, but this is an especially exciting win for The Crossing, a professional chamber choir dedicated to new music. Other notable recording projects from The Crossing include Sounds from the Bench with Ted Hearne and Canticles of the Holy Wind with John Luther Adams.


Winners and some editor’s picks for the remaining classical categories:

Best Instrumental Composition

WINNER “Three Revolutions,” Arturo O’Farrill, composer (Arturo O’Farrill & Chucho Valdés)

**ICIYL editor’s pick: “Alkaline” – Pascal Le Boeuf, composer (Le Boeuf Brothers & JACK Quartet) Watch the ICIYL video premiere of Alkaline here.

Choros #3″ – Vince Mendoza, composer (Vince Mendoza & WDR Big Band Cologne)

“Home Free (For Peter Joe)” – Nate Smith, composer (Nate Smith)

“Warped Cowboy” – Chuck Owen, composer (Chuck Owen And The Jazz Surge)


Best Orchestral Performance

WINNER Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5; Barber: Adagio, Manfred Honeck, conductor (Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra)

**ICIYL editor’s pick: Concertos For Orchestra – Louis Langrée, conductor (Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra)

Copland: Symphony No. 3; Three Latin American Sketches – Leonard Slatkin, conductor (Detroit Symphony Orchestra)

Debussy: Images; Jeux & La Plus Que Lente – Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor (San Francisco Symphony)

Mahler: Symphony No. 5 – Osmo Vänskä, conductor (Minnesota Orchestra)


Best Classical Instrumental Solo

WINNER Transcendental – Daniil Trifonov

Bach: The French Suites – Murray Perahia

Haydn: Cello Concertos – Steven Isserlis; Florian Donderer, conductor (The Deutsch Kammerphilharmonie Bremen)

Levina: The Piano Concertos – Maria Lettberg; Ariane Matiakh, conductor (Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin)

Shostakovich: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 2 – Frank Peter Zimmermann; Alan Gilbert, conductor (NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester)