Thursday, December 1, 2011

Did you hear about the Classical Grammy Nominations...?

The Grammys announced their nominees for the 2012 awards, in case you missed the concert televised on network TV last night or read that Kanye West received seven nominations.

And even if you did watch it, I doubt you noticed there were any classical music recordings nominated. (If you're wondering, you can check my post here.)

But that's always been the case. Even on those rare occasions when a classical artist did appear on the awards broadcast live, it was met by either indifference or incomprehension (as when host Ellen DeGeneris had to pronounce Shostakovich, Gil Shaham and Zdenek Macal all in one breath).

It's always nice to look through the list, scrolling down to the very bottom to find the Classical Categories, finding artists you've enjoyed, recordings you've bought or heard, and, in the case of this blog, performers who have appeared on Market Square Concerts' programs in recent (or even distant) seasons.

But this year, I'm looking through the list and can't even find the Chamber Music Category. Doing a search on "string quartet," for instance, turns up no category and few mentions - though the Pacifica Quartet's recording of Shostakovich and his contemporaries and the St. Lawrence Quartet's recording of the John Adam quartet they played here last year were nominated under the category "Producer of the Year, Classical."

It turns out that, in April earlier this year, the Grammy Awards announced the stream-lining of their categories, either eliminating or consolidating several awards, whittling it down by some 30 categories. This mostly affected the Classical and Jazz divisions.

Chamber Music has been absorbed by the category "Small Ensembles" which can still include chamber orchestras. This year, no string quartets or comparable ensembles were nominated.

Now, solo albums must compete with artists appearing as concerto soloists. Only one solo performer received a nomination this year - pianist Ursula Oppens playing music by John Corigliano.

Classical Music in general is rarely served by the print and broadcast media across the country. The Grammys paid scant attention to classical recordings even in the past and most media outlets ignored those classical categories at the bottom of the list, unless you were reading the New York Times.

Now, the Grammys serve classical musicians, already struggling to make, release and promote new recordings, even less.

While I wish Kanye the best, but I mean really dude, the JACK Quartet's recording of George Edwards' 2nd String Quartet on Albany Records was SOOO much better...