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Classical music presents a vital front in the 2024 Grammy noms

Pianist Yuja Wang and conductor Gustavo Dudamel, both among the classical nominees in the 66th Grammy Awards.
LA Phil
Pianist Yuja Wang and conductor Gustavo Dudamel, both among the classical nominees in the 66th Grammy Awards.

The 2024 Grammy nominations have just been announced, and while the top story for many observers will be the hot-pink hegemony of the Barbie soundtrack, there’s a heartening subplot in the Classical field, where several different shades of excellence can be found.

Many of the artists and orchestras in the running will be familiar to most classical listeners. Among them are pianist Yuja Wang, whose American Project garnered her a nod for Best Classical Instrumental Solo, and conductor Gustavo Dudamel, whose role in the recording of Dante, a ballet by Thomas Adès, scored multiple nominations. The Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin are up for Best Orchestra Performance, for their recording of works by William Dawson and Florence Price.

Those are two Black American composers finally receiving their due — a welcome development that also extends to nominated albums by the Catalyst Quartet (Uncovered, Vol. 3: Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, William Grant Still & George Walker) and the pianist Aaron Diehl with The Knights (Mary Lou Williams’ Zodiac Suite).

But the nominations are also distinguished by the presence of leading Black artists like the composer Terence Blanchard, whose Champion is up for Best Opera Recording; the tenor Lawrence Brownlee, countertenor Reginald Mobley and soprano Julia Bullock, who each have an album up for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album; and clarinetist Anthony McGill, whose American Stories, with Pacifica Quartet is up for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance.

Recognized alongside new work by Missy Mazzoli and canonical fare by Bartók and Beethoven, this suggests not only an abundance of talent but also an appetite for broadening the picture. Here is the full list of nominees. And here is our report on the Jazz field. Below, find the nominees in the Classical field.

The 66th Annual Grammy Awards Nominations: Classical Field

Best Orchestral Performance

  • Adès: Dante, Gustavo Dudamel, conductor (Los Angeles Philharmonic)
  • Bartók: Concerto For Orchestra; Four Pieces, Karina Canellakis, conductor (Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra)
  • Price: Symphony No. 4; Dawson: Negro Folk Symphony, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor (The Philadelphia Orchestra)
  • Scriabin: Symphony No. 2; The Poem Of Ecstasy, JoAnn Falletta, conductor (Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra)
  • Stravinsky: The Rite Of Spring, Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor (San Francisco Symphony)
Ryan Speedo Green as Young Emile Griffith in a scene from Terence Blanchard's 'Champion.'
Ken Howard
Met Opera
Ryan Speedo Green as Young Emile Griffith in a scene from Terence Blanchard's 'Champion.'

Best Opera Recording

  • Blanchard: Champion, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor; Ryan Speedo Green, Latonia Moore & Eric Owens; David Frost, producer (The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; The Metropolitan Opera Chorus)
  • Corigliano: The Lord Of Cries, Gil Rose, conductor; Anthony Roth Costanzo, Kathryn Henry, Jarrett Ott & David Portillo; Gil Rose, producer (Boston Modern Orchestra Project & Odyssey Opera Chorus)
  • Little: Black Lodge, Timur; Andrew McKenna Lee & David T. Little, producers (The Dime Museum; Isaura String Quartet)

Best Choral Performance

  • Carols After A Plague, Donald Nally, conductor (The Crossing)
  • The House Of Belonging, Craig Hella Johnson, conductor (Miró Quartet; Conspirare)
  • Ligeti: Lux Aeterna, Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor (San Francisco Symphony Chorus)
  • Rachmaninoff: All-Night Vigil, Steven Fox, conductor (The Clarion Choir)
  • Saariaho: Reconnaissance, Nils Schweckendiek, conductor (Uusinta Ensemble; Helsinki Chamber Choir)

Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance

  • American Stories, Anthony McGill & Pacifica Quartet
  • Beethoven For Three: Symphony No. 6, 'Pastorale' And Op. 1, No. 3, Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax & Leonidas Kavakos
  • Between Breaths, Third Coast Percussion
  • Rough Magic, Roomful Of Teeth
  • Uncovered, Vol. 3: Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, William Grant Still & George Walker, Catalyst Quartet

Best Classical Instrumental Solo

  • Adams, John Luther: Darkness And Scattered Light, Robert Black
  • Akiho: Cylinders, Andy Akiho
  • The American Project, Yuja Wang; Teddy Abrams, conductor (Louisville Orchestra)
  • Difficult Grace, Seth Parker Woods
  • Of Love, Curtis Stewart
Opera Philadelphia artistic advisor Lawrence Brownlee singing a part from Rossini's 'Otello' at WRTI, on Sept. 9, 2022.
Tyler McClure
Opera Philadelphia artistic advisor Lawrence Brownlee singing a part from Rossini's 'Otello' at WRTI, on Sept. 9, 2022.

Best Classical Solo Vocal Album

  • Because, Reginald Mobley, soloist; Baptiste Trotignon, pianist
  • Broken Branches, Karim Sulayman, soloist; Sean Shibe, accompanist
  • 40@40, Laura Strickling, soloist; Daniel Schlosberg, pianist
  • Rising, Lawrence Brownlee, soloist; Kevin J. Miller, pianist
  • Walking In The Dark, Julia Bullock, soloist; Christian Reif, conductor (Philharmonia Orchestra)

Best Classical Compendium

  • Fandango, Anne Akiko Meyers; Gustavo Dudamel, conductor; Dmitriy Lipay, producer
  • Julius Eastman, Vol. 3: If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich? Christopher Rountree, conductor; Lewis Pesacov, producer
  • Mazzoli: Dark With Excessive Bright, Peter Herresthal; Tim Weiss, conductor; Hans Kipfer, producer
  • Passion For Bach And Coltrane, Alex Brown, Harlem Quartet, Imani Winds, Edward Perez, Neal Smith & A.B. Spellman; Silas Brown & Mark Dover, producers
  • Sardinia, Chick Corea; Chick Corea & Bernie Kirsh, producers
  • Sculptures, Andy Akiho; Andy Akiho & Sean Dixon, producers
  • Zodiac Suite, Aaron Diehl Trio & The Knights; Eric Jacobsen, conductor; Aaron Diehl & Eric Jacobsen, producers 
Thomas Adès, whose new ballet 'Dante,' with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Master Chorale led by Gustavo Dudamel, is now an album on Nonesuch.
Thomas Adès, whose new ballet 'Dante,' with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Master Chorale led by Gustavo Dudamel, is now an album on Nonesuch.

Best Contemporary Classical Composition

  • Adès: Dante, Thomas Adès, composer (Gustavo Dudamel & Los Angeles Philharmonic)
  • Akiho: In That Space, At That Time, Andy Akiho, composer (Andy Akiho, Ankush Kumar Bahl & Omaha Symphony)
  • Brittelle: Psychedelics, William Brittelle, composer (Roomful Of Teeth)
  • Mazzoli: Dark With Excessive Bright, Missy Mazzoli, composer (Peter Herresthal, James Gaffigan & Bergen Philharmonic)
  • Montgomery: Rounds, Jessie Montgomery, composer (Awadagin Pratt, A Far Cry & Roomful Of Teeth)

Producer Of The Year, Classical

  • David Frost • The American Project (Yuja Wang, Teddy Abrams, Louisville Orchestra) (A) • Arc II - Ravel, Brahms, Shostakovich (Orion Weiss) (A) • Blanchard: Champion (Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Latonia Moore, Ryan Speedo Green, Eric Owens, Stephanie Blythe, Metropolitan Opera Chorus & Orchestra) (A) • Contemporary American Composers (Riccardo Muti & Chicago Symphony Orchestra) (A) • The Guitar Player (Mattias Schulstad) (A) • Mysterium (Anne Akiko Meyers, Grant Gershon & Los Angeles Master Chorale) (A) • Verdi: Rigoletto (Daniele Rustioni, Piotr Beczala, Quinn Kelsey, Rosa Feola, Varduhi Abrahamyan, Andrea Mastroni, The Metropolitan Opera Chorus & Orchestra) (A)
  • Morten Lindberg • An Old Hall Ladymass (Catalina Vicens & Trio Mediæval) (A) • Thoresen: Lyden Av Arktis - La Terra Meravigliosa (Christian Kluxen & Arktisk Filharmoni) (A) • The Trondheim Concertos (Sigurd Imsen & Baroque Ensemble Of The Trondheim Symphony Orchestra) (A) • Yggdrasil (Tove Ramlo-Ystad & Cantus) (A)
  • Dmitriy Lipay • Adès: Dante (Gustavo Dudamel & Los Angeles Philharmonic) (A) • Fandango (Gustavo Dudamel, Anne Akiko Meyers & Los Angeles Philharmonic) (A) • Price: Symphony No. 4; Dawson: Negro Folk Symphony (Yannick Nézet-Séguin & Philadelphia Orchestra) (A) • Rachmaninoff: The Piano Concertos & Paganini Rhapsody (Yuja Wang, Gustavo Dudamel & Los Angeles Philharmonic) (A) • Walker: Lyric For Strings; Folksongs For Orchestra; Lilacs For Voice & Orchestra; Dawson: Negro Folk Symphony (Asher Fisch & Seattle Symphony) (A)
  • Elaine Martone • Ascenso (Santiago Cañón-Valencia) (A) • Berg: Three Pieces From Lyric Suite; Strauss: Suite From Der Rosenkavalier (Franz Welser-Möst & The Cleveland Orchestra) (A) • Between Breaths (Third Coast Percussion) (A) • Difficult Grace (Seth Parker Woods) (A) • Man Up / Man Down (Constellation Men's Ensemble) (A) • Prokofiev: Symphony No. 5 (Franz Welser-Möst & The Cleveland Orchestra) (A) • Rachmaninoff & Gershwin: Transcriptions By Earl Wild (John Wilson) (A) • Sirventés - Music From The Iranian Female Composers Association (Brian Thornton, Katherine Bormann, Alicia Koelz, Eleisha Nelson, Amahl Arulanadam & Nathan Petipas) (A) • Walker: Antifonys; Lilacs; Sinfonias Nos. 4 & 5 (Franz Welser-Möst & The Cleveland Orchestra) (A)
  • Brian Pidgeon • Fuchs: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1 (John Wilson & Sinfonia Of London) (A) • Music For Strings (John Wilson & Sinfonia Of London) (A) • Nielsen: Violin Concerto; Symphony No. 4 (James Ehnes, Edward Gardner & Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra) (A) • Pierre Sancan - A Musical Tribute (Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Yan Pascal Tortelier & BBC Philharmonic) (A) • Poulenc: Orchestral Works (Bramwell Tovey & BBC Concert Orchestra) (A) • Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 3; Voclaise; The Isle Of The Dead (John Wilson & Sinfonia Of London) (A) • Schubert: Symphonies, Vol. 3 (Edward Gardner & City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra) (A) • Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 12 & 15 (John Storgårds & BBC Philharmonic) (A) • Tchaikovsky: Orchestral Works (Alpesh Chauhan & BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra) (A)

Best Engineered Album, Classical

  • The Blue Hour, Patrick Dillett, Mitchell Graham, Jesse Lewis, Kyle Pyke, Andrew Scheps & John Weston, engineers; Helge Sten, mastering engineer (Shara Nova & A Far Cry)
  • Contemporary American Composers, David Frost & Charlie Post, engineers; Silas Brown, mastering engineer (Riccardo Muti & Chicago Symphony Orchestra)
  • Fandango, Alexander Lipay & Dmitriy Lipay, engineers; Alexander Lipay & Dmitriy Lipay, mastering engineers (Gustavo Dudamel, Anne Akiko Meyers, Gustavo Castillo & Los Angeles Philharmonic)
  • Sanlikol: A Gentleman Of Istanbul - Symphony For Strings, Percussion, Piano, Oud, Ney & Tenor, Christopher Moretti & John Weston, engineers; Shauna Barravecchio & Jesse Lewis, mastering engineers (Mehmet Ali Sanlikol, George Lernis & A Far Cry)
  • Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 & Schulhoff: Five Pieces, Mark Donahue, engineer; Mark Donahue, mastering engineer (Manfred Honeck & Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra) 
Nate Chinen has been writing about music for more than 25 years. He spent a dozen of them working as a critic for The New York Times, and helmed a long-running column for JazzTimes. As Editorial Director at WRTI, he oversees a range of classical and jazz coverage, and contributes regularly to NPR.