Local musicians have seized four nominations at this year’s prestigious Grammy awards, presented every year by the American Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. The Mariinsky label’s recording of Rodion Shchedrin’s opera The Enchanted Wanderer performed by the Mariinsky Theater Symphony Orchestra and Chorus under Valery Gergiev is a finalist in two categories: “Best Opera” and “Best Work by a Contemporary Classical Composer.”

The St. Petersburg Times Full review

IODA, the global leader in digital distribution, marketing, and technology solutions for the independent music industry, today announced that among the 53rd annual Grammy nominations, 49 are from the IODA family of rightsholders. The nominations reflect the success of more than 35 artists from more than 25 independent record labels distributed by IODA. IODA clients received nominations in more than 15 genres, showcasing the significant contributions and success of independents across the music industry.

IODA Full review

With the announcement of this year’s nominees, the Grammys had two words for its conservative past: “(expletive) You!”

Founded by aging icons (Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, etc.) threatened by rock ‘n’ roll barbarians, the traditionally buttoned-down music awards embraced the indecent and irreverent on its Wednesday night nominations TV special. The show rolled out a few startling contenders, giving Cee Lo Green’s profanity-powered smash “(expletive) You!” five nods and Eminem’s vulgar-and-violent raps a leading 10 nominations.

The Boston Phoenix Full review

Nominations for the 53rd annual Grammy Awards ceremony have been revealed.

In the 14 categories in which classical recordings are eligible, 30 record labels received a total of 67 nominations between them, with Naxos, with a tally of 11, receiving the most nominations. Attracting six nominations each, Harmonia Mundi and the Winchester, Virgina-based independent Dorian Sono Luminus were the next most successful labels, while Decca was nominated five times.

The Classical Review Full review

Independent labels such as Naxos, Harmonia Mundi and Dorian, have earned more than 20 Grammy nods, edging out major, legacy labels like RCA, EMI and Sony. Michael Daugherty’s Metropolis Symphony (on Naxos) is at the top with five nominations.

NPR Full review

Gil Rose presented Boston Modern Opera Project’s first Club Concert of the season on Monday evening, November 29. These evenings, which began at the Club Café in Boston in 2003 and this year moved to the Oberon in Cambridge, are hosted by BMOP’s Score Board (New England composers) whose members take turns “curating.” On this occasion it was Curtis K. Hughes who introduced each work, with pianist Sarah Bob introducing Hughes’s own composition.

The Boston Musical Intelligencer Full review

The 53rd Annual Grammy nominations have been announced (list of nominees in the Classical category here). Lots of contemporary classical represented, even in the more general categories.

Congratulations to Steve Mackey and Michael Daugherty: both are up for Best Classical Album. The ensembles that recorded their works, BMOP and the Nashville SO, respectively, are also up for Best Orchestral Performance.

Sequenza21 Full review

So many categories, so many shiny gold statues to be distributed! The Grammy award nominees have been announced, with Michael Daugherty’s Metropolis Symphony; Deus Ex Machina (Naxos) disc picking up six nominations and Steven Mackey’s Dreamhouse snagging three.

In the “Best Classical Contemporary Composition” category (given to a “contemporary classical composition composed within the last 25 years, and released for the first time during the eligibility year”), the nominees are:

* Daugherty: Deus Ex Machina (Naxos)

NewMusicBox Full review

The classical nominations for the 53rd annual Grammy Awards feature a sprawling mix of musicians and composers from around the world. Leading the nominations are Michael Daugherty’s Deus Ex Machina, for piano and orchestra, with five nods, and Steve Mackey’s Dreamhouse, an eclectic orchestral work, with three nods.

Los Angeles Times Full review

Someday the naysayers will be right, of course. Nothing lasts forever. But classical CDs and DVDs remain plentiful, and it was a great year. Buy, wrap, and give the real thing while you still can. Downloads make lousy gifts.

Virgil Thomson: Three Pictures
Thomas Meglioranza, baritone; Kristen Watson, soprano
Boston Modern Orchestra Project, conducted by Gil Rose
(BMOP/sound 1018); $16.99

Los Angeles Times Full review

The plain speaking of the ‘Parisian Midwesterner’ Virgil Thomson sounds out strikingly in this cleverly planned programme. A Solemn Music, originally written for winds in memory of Thomson’s friend and collaborator Gertrude Stein, is sombre and fierce, a good foil for its later companion-piece A Joyful Fugue. The Three Pictures for Orchestra are a fascinating attempt to create objective rather than impressionistic musical landscapes: the last, ‘Sea Piece with Birds’, ends with a terrific climax of squawking gulls.

BBC Music Magazine Full review


The Harvard music department has certainly produced its share of distinguished American composers, including John Knowles Paine (1839-1905), Arthur Foote (1853-1937), John Alden Carpenter (1876-1951), and Walter Piston (1894-1976). But none was more influential than Mid-Westerner Virgil Thomson (1896-1989), who went on to study with Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979) in Paris during the 1920s.

Classical Lost and Found Full review

The Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) kicked off its season with a Jordan Hall program on November 13. Entitled “Virtuosity’s Velocity,” the concert was devoted to five American works for chamber orchestra. The music was demanding and difficult, but conductor Gil Rose did indeed elicit plenty of virtuosity from his ensemble.

The Arts Fuse Full review

For its seasonal opener “Virtuosity’s Velocity,” on Saturday, November 13 at Jordan Hall, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project chose to present an all-American program in a chamber-orchestra size. (In the old days, there were more players on stage than audience members.) The program included works by John Coolidge Adams, Arthur Berger, Ross Lee Finney, and Scott Wheeler. All these composers except Wheeler flirted with serial techniques, only to abandon them later.

The Boston Musical Intelligencer Full review

For its season-opening concert, “Virtuosity’s Velocity,” the Boston Modern Orchestra Project trained its sights on the chamber orchestra — an ensemble whose unique flexibility can incorporate the weight and timbral range of the orchestra and the responsiveness of chamber music. All the music was American, creating a sort of microhistory of the genre’s many iterations.

The Boston Globe Full review

For those who like to stump their musical friends with the old guess-the-composer game, a good puzzler would be “Sea Piece With Birds.”

This 1952 orchestral work, some four minutes of somber, heaving music, is thick with chromatic chords that move in big parallel blocks, with skittish atonal themes mingling hesitantly above. The atmospheric orchestral colors suggest strangely updated Debussy. A frenetic climax sounds like some ornery blast of Varèse.

The composer?

The New York Times Full review

What composer and vocalist Lisa Bielawa does with text might be considered the exact opposite job of a music critic. Instead of putting music into words, she turns words into music — not just setting them for songs, but using them as the jumping-off point for much of what she does.

The Star-Ledger Full review

Prix de Rome recipient Lisa Bielawa (b. 1968, daughter of composer Herbert) has recently been composer in residence with Gil Rose’s Boston Modern Orchestra Project (2006-09). Ms. Bielawa (brought up in San Francisco but now living in Manhattan) is a Yale graduate, but her degrees are in literature and critical studies; she is also a performing soprano, making for an interesting and quite striking list of accomplishments. This collection documents the product of the three Boston seasons and includes some earlier music.

American Record Guide Full review

The Boston Modern Orchestra Project is currently represented in the catalog on about 33 releases, most well-worth investigation by those interested in the trends of contemporary music, and good contemporary music at that. It is time they turned their attention to one of the most misunderstood and really neglected composers: Virgil Thomson—critic, pianist, organist, and often vitriolic pundit. At least that is what the composers of the atonalist school thought; though no one was completely free from his often dead-on and yet highly provocative verbal barrages.

Audiophile Audition Full review

Regular readers of this blog will know that one of my favorite singers is the baritone Thomas Meglioranza. I’m pleased to report a new recording by Mr. Meglioranza of music for baritone and orchestra by Virgil Thomson on the Boston Modern Orchestra Project label. He sings the Five Songs from William Blake and The Feast of Love, and joins with soprano Kristen Watson in Collected Poems, a witty setting of words and phrases by Kenneth Koch.

Leonard Link Full review