Contemporary music, especially works by women and composers of color, swept most of this year’s classical Grammy Awards. In the eight awards categories, only one, a song recital by soprano Renée Fleming, featured music by dead Europeans (alongside those of live Americans).
Noteworthy winners include Terence Blanchard’s opera “Fire Shut Up in My Bones,” staged by the Metropolitan Opera and issued on a DVD. Its cast includes baritone Will Liverman, currently in residence with Virginia Opera and returning to the Met in a fall 2023 production of Anthony Davis’ “X: the Life and Times of Malcolm X.”
Another composer with Virginia connections, Richmond-bred Mason Bates, is represented in an engineering Grammy for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra recording of his “Philharmonia Fantastique: the Making of an Orchestra.”
The most striking award may be for a disc by the teenagers of the New York Youth Symphony, who with pianist Michelle Cann recorded works by three Black female composers, Florence Price, Valerie Coleman and Jessie Montgomery, winning in the best orchestral performance category.
Other classical awards went to collections with works by seven living composers: Caroline Shaw, Kevin Puts, Jennifer Higdon, Nico Muhly, Edie Hill, Michael Gilbertson and Kitt Wakeley.
The 2023 classical Grammy winners:
Orchestral performance: Florence Price: Piano Concerto, “Ethiopia’s Shadow in America;” Jessie Montgomery: “Soul Force;” Valerie Coleman: “Umoja – Anthem of Unity” – Michelle Cann, piano; New York Youth Symphony/Michael Repper (Avie).
Opera recording: Terence Blanchard: “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” – Angel Blue, Will Liverman, Latonia Moore & Walter Russell III, vocalists; Metropolitan Opera Orchestra & Chorus/Yannick Nézet-Séguin (Metropolitan Opera, DVD).
Choral performance: “Born” (works by Michael Gilbertson & Edie Hill) – The Crossing/Donald Nally (Navona).
Chamber music/small ensemble performance: Caroline Shaw: “Evergreen” – Caroline Shaw, vocals; Attacca Quartet (Nonesuch).
Classical instrumental solo: “Letters for the Future” (works by Kevin Puts & Jennifer Higdon) – Time for Three; Philadelphia Orchestra/Xian Zhang (Deutsche Grammophon).
Classical solo vocal album: “Voice of Nature: The Anthropocene” (works by Liszt, Grieg, Fauré, Reynaldo Hahn, Kevin Puts, Nico Muhly & Caroline Shaw) – Renée Fleming, soprano; Yannick Nézet-Séguin, pianist (Decca).
Classical compendium: Starr Parodi & Kitt Wakeley: “An Adoption Story” – London Symphony Orchestra, et al. (independent EP).
Engineered classical album: Mason Bates: “Philharmonia fantastique: the Making of an Orchestra” – Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Edwin Outwater. Shawn Murphy, Charlie Post & Gary Rydstrom, engineers; Michael Romanowski, mastering engineer (Sony).