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Elegance and Triumph: Unpacking the Significance of Classical Music Winners at the 2024 Grammys

Opera Singer Bri Cooper

Every year since I was a child, I could not wait until Grammy season. Of course, back then, it was all about seeing my favorite pop icons perform on stage, and then meeting with my friends at school to talk about the performances. I knew all of the great classical singers and would wait to read about who won the following day in the Washington Post "Classical" section.

When I was a music major, I recall Areatha Franklin performing Nessun Dorma. That performance was talked about for two weeks in the music building. It was the first time I realized that classical music was not something everyone just happened to listen. I realized it was not as popular as I thought. Possibly because my world was classical music. I knew then that my path was going to be very long and very different. Three More Tenors helped to boost the understanding of classical music among the masses. However, if you were a serious classical musician, you knew a lot of the music being sung by the group was more popular classical arias. They had to want to listen to it. Several years ago I teamed up with a presenter and offered a giveaway to hear Soprano, Julia Bullock in recital. The tickets ended up going to a couple that had never been to a classical concert in their lives. I remember giving them a few tips. About a week later, they reached out to me to let me know how much they enjoyed the concert. They literally hired me to perform a recital for their friends. Fast forward to 2024...Julia was nominated and won a Grammy!

This year the celebration that typically spotlights the trendiest and most popular genres, the 2024 Grammys witnessed a triumphant moment for classical music as several artists from this timeless genre claimed coveted awards. This unexpected turn of events raises intriguing questions about the role of classical music in the modern music landscape and why these wins are essential for the industry.

The recognition of classical music at the 2024 Grammys signifies a departure from the norm, emphasizing that timeless tunes and classical compositions are deserving of acclaim in a contemporary setting.

Winners in the classical category contribute to the preservation of cultural heritage. Classical music is a repository of historical legacy, and these awards ensure that the profound influence and beauty of classical compositions continue to be acknowledged and celebrated. What is also very exciting is the fact that African American Composers and performers in the classical space are finally being recognized, seen and heard!

In a world dominated by popular genres, the acknowledgment of classical music winners promotes genre diversity and musical inclusivity. It signals that the Grammys are a platform where various musical expressions are celebrated, providing a more holistic representation of the multifaceted nature of the music industry.

Classical music winners at the Grammys play a crucial role in inspiring new generations of musicians. These victories highlight the educational value of classical compositions, encouraging aspiring artists to explore the depth and complexity of this genre.

This year I have noticed more classical music included in commercials, movies and more. I recently saw a collaboration of Arianna Grande singing in a commercial with reimagined rap and classical. Yes, even yours truly has performed a collaboration with a rapper entitled " Peace Signs Up" (Listen here)

The triumph of classical music winners at the 2024 Grammys is not just a celebration of individual achievements but a significant moment that speaks to the enduring power of classical compositions in the ever-evolving landscape of the music industry. These wins emphasize the importance of recognizing and preserving the rich tapestry of musical expressions that contribute to the cultural and artistic heritage of our global society.

You can read the full list of classical winners below:

  • Best Orchestral Performance went to Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic for their recording of Thomas Adès's ballet Dante.

  • Best Opera Recording went to Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Ryan Speedo Green, Latonia Moore, and Eric Owens; and David Frost, producer (with The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and The Metropolitan Opera Chorus) for their world premiere recording of Terence Blanchard's opera Champion.

  • Best Choral Performance went to Nils Schweckendieck, the Uusinta Ensemble, and the Helsinki Chamber Choir, for their recording of Kaija Saariaho's work Reconnaissance.

  • Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance went to Rough Magic by Roomful of Teeth.

  • Best Classical Instrumental Solo went to Yuja Wang with conductor Teddy Abrams for their work on The American Project with the Louisville Orchestra.

  • Best Classical Solo Vocal Album went to Julia Bullock with conductor Christian Reif for their work on Walking in the Dark with the Philharmonic Orchestra.

  • Best Classical Compendium went to Alex Brown, Harlem Quartet, Imani Winds, Edward Perez, Neal Smith, and A.B. Spellman, with producers Silas Brown and Mark Dover, for their work on Passion for Bach and Coltrane.

  • Best Contemporary Classical Composition went to composer Jessie Montgomery for her work Rounds, which featured AwadaginPratt, A Far Cry, and Roomful Of Teeth.

  • Best Engineered Album, Classical went to David Frost and Charlie Post, as well as mastering engineer Silas Brown, for Contemporary American Composers (Riccardo Muti/Chicago Symphony Orchestra).

  • Producer of the Year, Classical went to Elaine Martone for her work on Santiago Cañón-Valencia's album Ascenso.


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