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Grammys awarded for recordings of Ives, Gershwin, Smyth and a raft of contemporary composers

Artists and ensembles awarded Grammys in this year's ceremony included Gustavo Dudamel, JoAnn Falletta, the Pacifica Quartet, Michael Tilson Thomas and the Experiential Orchestra

Grammys awarded for recordings of Ives, Gershwin, Smyth and a raft of contemporary composers

As Beyoncé was setting records for her 28th Grammy win at the 2021 Grammy Awards, there were a tranche of classical musicians and ensembles also celebrated for their recordings over the past year.

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The Los Angeles Philharmonic and its music director Gustavo Dudamel won their third Grammy together for their album of symphonies by composer Charles Ives (Buy from Amazon), while the Metropolitan Opera’s recording of its 2019 production of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (Buy from Amazon) won for ‘best opera recording’.

The world premiere recording of Ethel Smyth’s late masterpiece The Prison (Buy from Amazon) released on Chandos Records won the Experiential Orchestra and Chorus a Grammy for ‘best classical vocal performance’.

Contemporary composers were also celebrated in this year’s Grammys, with awards going to new recordings of works by the likes of Michael Tilson Thomas, Christopher Rouse, Richard Danielpour and Christopher Theofanidis.

The awards took place in the Los Angeles Convention Center with no audience. The performers were separated onto five stages to allow for social distancing. The awards were handed out by members of staff at nearby concert venues which have been forced to close due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. These included security guards, bartenders and cleaners.

Pianist Igor Levit, who received his first Grammy nomination for his album of Beethoven sonatas, performed at the premiere ceremony. He performed alongside Nigerian rapper Burna Boy, singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright and Latin pop performer Lido Pimienta.

Best Classical Orchestral Performance

Ives: Complete Symphonies
Gustavo Dudamel, conductor (Los Angeles Philharmonic)

Lutosławski: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 3
Hannu Lintu, conductor (Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra)

Aspects of America – Pulitzder Edition
Carlos Kalmar, conductor (Oregon Symphony)

Concurrence
Daníel Bjarnason, conductor (Iceland Symphony Orchestra)

Copland: Symphony No. 3
Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor (San Francisco Symphony)

Best Opera Recording

Gershwin: Porgy and Bess
David Robertson, conductor; Frederick Ballentine, Angel Blue, Denyce Graves, Latonia Moore & Eric Owens; David Frost, producer (The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; The Metropolitan Opera Chorus)

Handel: Agrippina
Maxim Emelyanychev, conductor; Elsa Benoit, Joyce DiDonato, Franco Fagioli, Jakub Józef Orliński & Luca Pisaroni; Daniel Zalay, producer (Il Pomo D’Oro)

Zemlinsky: Der Zwerg
Donald Runnicles, conductor; David Butt Philip & Elena Tsallagova; Peter Ghirardini & Erwin Stürzer, producers (Orchestra Of The Deutsche Oper Berlin; Chorus Of The Deutsche Oper Berlin)

Dello Joio: The Trial at Rouen
Gil Rose, conductor; Heather Buck & Stephen Powell; Gil Rose, producer (Boston Modern Orchestra Project; Odyssey Opera Chorus)

Carlisle Floyd: Prince of Players
William Boggs, conductor; Alexander Dobson, Keith Phares & Kate Royal; Blanton Alspaugh, producer (Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra; Florentine Opera Chorus)

Read our reviews of the latest opera recordings here

Best Choral Performance, Classical

Danielpour: The Passion of Yeshua
JoAnn Falletta, conductor; James K. Bass & Adam Luebke, chorus masters (James K. Bass, J’Nai Bridges, Timothy Fallon, Kenneth Overton, Hila Plitmann & Matthew Worth; Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra; Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus & UCLA Chamber Singers)

Moravec: Sanctuary Road
Kent Tritle, conductor (Joshua Blue, Raehann Bryce-Davis, Dashon Burton, Malcolm J. Merriweather & Laquita Mitchell; Oratorio Society Of New York Orchestra; Oratorio Society Of New York Chorus)

Once Upon A Time
Matthew Guard, conductor (Sarah Walker; Skylark Vocal Ensemble)

Carthage
Donald Nally, conductor (The Crossing)

Kastalsky: Requiem
Leonard Slatkin, conductor; Charles Bruffy, Steven Fox & Benedict Sheehan, chorus masters (Joseph Charles Beutel & Anna Dennis; Orchestra Of St. Luke’s; Cathedral Choral Society, The Clarion Choir, Kansas City Chorale & The Saint Tikhon Choir)

Read our reviews of the latest choral recordings here

Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance (With or Without Conductor)

Contemporary Voices
Pacifica Quartet

The Schumann Quartets
Dover Quartet

Healing Modes
Brooklyn Rider

Ted Hearne: Place
Ted Hearne, Steven Bradshaw, Sophia Byrd, Josephine Lee, Isaiah Robinson, Sol Ruiz, Ayanna Woods, Diana Wade & Place Orchestra

Hynes: Fields
Devonté Hynes & Third Coast Percussion

Read our reviews of the latest chamber music recordings here

Best Classical Instrumental Solo

Theofanidis: Concerto for Viola and Chamber Orchestra
Richard O’Neill; David Alan Miller, conductor (Albany Symphony)

Adès: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra
Kirill Gerstein; Thomas Adès, conductor (Boston Symphony Orchestra)

Beethoven: Complete Piano Sonatas
Igor Levit

Bohemian Tales
Augustin Hadelich; Jakub Hrůša, conductor (Charles Owen; Symphonieorchester Des Bayerischen Rundfunks)

Destination Rachmaninov: Arrival
Daniil Trifonov; Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor (The Philadelphia Orchestra)

Best Classical Vocal Performance

Smyth: The Prison
Sarah Brailey & Dashon Burton; James Blachly, conductor (Experiential Chorus; Experiential Orchestra)

American Composers At Play: William Bolcom, Ricky Ian Gordon, Lori Laitman, John Musto
Stephen Powell (Attacca Quartet, William Bolcom, Ricky Ian Gordon, Lori Laitman, John Musto, Charles Neidich & Jason Vieaux)

Clairières: Songs By Lili & Nadia Boulanger
Nicholas Phan; Myra Huang, accompanist

Farinelli
Cecilia Bartoli; Giovanni Antonini, conductor (Il Giardino Armonico)

A Lad’s Love
Brian Giebler; Steven McGhee, accompanist (Katie Hyun, Michael Katz, Jessica Meyer, Reginald Mobley & Ben Russell)

Best Classical Compendium

Michael Tilson Thomas: From The Diary Of Anne Frank & Meditations On Rilke
Isabel Leonard; Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor; Jack Vad, producer

Adès Conducts Adès
Mark Stone & Christianne Stotijn; Thomas Adès, conductor; Nick Squire, producer

Saariaho: Graal Théâtre; Circle Map; Neiges; Vers Toi Qui Es Si Loin
Clément Mao-Takacs, conductor; Hans Kipfer, producer

Serebrier: Symphonic Bach Variations; Laments And Hallelujahs; Flute Concerto
José Serebrier, conductor; Jens Braun, producer

Luna Pearl Woolf: Fire and Flood
Matt Haimovitz; Julian Wachner, conductor; Blanton Alspaugh, producer

Best Classical Contemporary Composition

Christopher Rouse: Symphony No. 5
Christopher Rouse, composer (Giancarlo Guerrero & Nashville Symphony)

Ted Hearne: Place
Ted Hearne, composer (Ted Hearne, Steven Bradshaw, Sophia Byrd, Josephine Lee, Isaiah Robinson, Sol Ruiz, Ayanna Woods & Place Orchestra)

Thomas Adès: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra
Thomas Adès, composer (Kirill Gerstein, Thomas Adès & Boston Symphony Orchestra)

Richard Danielpour: The Passion of Yeshua
Richard Danielpour, composer (JoAnn Falletta, James K. Bass, Adam Luebke, UCLA Chamber Singers, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra & Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus)

Carlisle Floyd: Prince of Players
Carlisle Floyd, composer (William Boggs, Kate Royal, Keith Phares, Florentine Opera Chorus & Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra)

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Top image: Igor Levit performing at the Grammy Awards (credit: Getty Images)