Female composers and artists were the big winners of this year’s classical Grammy Awards, with awards going to the Philadelphia Orchestra’s recording of two symphonies by Florence Price, violinist Jennifer Koh’s album of contemporary miniatures “Alone Together,” Caroline Shaw’s song cycle “Narrow Sea,” Danaë Xanthe Vlasse’s song collection “Mythologies,” and “Women Warriors – Voices of Change,” a collection curated and conducted by Amy Anderson.
More standard (or dead white European male) classical fare earned Grammys for Gustavo Dudamel, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and vocal forces in Mahler’s Eighth Symphony and cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Emanuel Ax playing Beethoven’s cello sonatas.
A Metropolitan Opera production of “Akhnaten,” Philip Glass’ “portrait” opera on the Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep III, won in the best opera category. The cast includes Will Liverman, the Virginia Beach-born baritone who serves as creative partner and advisor of Virginia Opera.
Lyle Mays, the jazz keyboard player who died in February 2020, was awarded a best instrumental composition Grammy for his last recording, “Eberhard,” a tribute to jazz bassist Eberhard Weber, with whom Mays had worked for many years. Weber has been unable to perform since suffering a stroke in 2007.
Jon Batiste, the keyboardist and bandleader for television’s “Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” one of whose 11 Grammy nominations was in a classical category, sparking controversy among some classical musicians and academics, took home the contest’s top popular-music award, album of the year, for “We Are.”
Appearing via video at the awards ceremony, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said: “Fill the silence with your music. Fill it today to tell our story. Tell the truth about the war on your social networks, on TV, support us in any way you can any, but not silence.” After Zelenskiy’s remarks, John Legend played his song “Free,” joined by Ukrainian musicians Siuzanna Iglidan and Mika Newton and poet Lyuba Yakimchuk.
This year’s classical Grammy winners:
Best Orchestral Performance
Florence Price: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3 – Philadelphia Orchestra/Yannick Nézet-Séguin (Deutsche Grammophon).
Best Opera Performance
Philip Glass: “Akhnaten” – Zachary James, Richard Bernstein, Aaron Blake, Will Liverman, et al./Metropolitan Opera/Karen Kamensek (Orange Mountain).
Best Choral Performance
Mahler: Symphony No. 8 (“Symphony of a Thousand”) – Los Angeles Philharmonic, et al./Gustavo Dudamel (Deutsche Grammophon).
Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance
Beethoven: cello sonatas (“Hope amid Tears”) – Yo-Yo Ma, cello; Emanuel Ax, piano (Sony Classical).
Best Classical Instrumental Solo
“Alone Together” (works by Vijay Iyer, Caroline Davis, Rajna Swaminathan, Missy Mazzoli, others) – Jennifer Koh, violin; et al. (Çedille).
Best Classical Solo Vocal Album
Danaë Xanthe Vlasse: “Mythologies” – Sangeeta Kaur & Hila Plitmann, sopranos, et al. (Cezanne Producciones)
Best Classical Compendium
“Women Warriors – Voices of Change” (works by Nathalie Bonin, Miriam Cutler, Anne-Kathrin Dern, Sharon Farber, Penka Kouneva, Starr Parodi, Lolita Ritmanis) – orchestra/Amy Anderson (La-La Land Records).
Best Contemporary Classical Composition
Caroline Shaw: “Narrow Sea” – Dawn Upshaw, soprano; Gilbert Kalish, piano; Sō Percussion (Nonesuch).
Best Instrumental Composition
Lyle Mays: “Eberhard” – Lyle Mays, keyboards; et al. (Oim).
Best Engineered Album (Classical)
“Chanticleer Sings Christmas” – Chanticleer; Leslie Ann Jones, engineer (Warner Classics).
Producer of the Year (Classical)