Tag: music awards

Hearing Beyond The Categories of the 64th Annual Grammy Awards

Grammy Award

As per every year, the Grammy Awards, which more than two months after a pandemic-related postponement were presented yesterday in Las Vegas, are a mixed bag. It is tempting to think of these awards as the great equalizer, since there are awards presented to recordings of such a diverse range of music. There are prizes for everything from hip-hop and heavy metal to gospel, new age, Latin jazz, musical theater, global music (an equally meaningless term that now replaces “world music”) and contemporary classical music (an oxymoron that we’re unfortunately stuck with). But sadly, there is a clear pecking order to these accolades; some recordings have been deemed more important than others.

Of course, theoretically any album could win Album of the Year and any recording artist could win Best New Artist, which is how it should be. Back in 1963, The First Family, a spoken word comedy LP by JFK impersonator Vaughn Meader–who?–walked away with Album of the Year! In more recent times, with the rare exception of jazz pianist Herbie Hancock, who received the 2008 Album of the Year for a recording mostly of renditions of songs by Joni Mitchell, and Esperanza Spalding, a musician also primarily associated with jazz, fetching Best New Artist in 2011 (which shocked many viewers, most of all the hordes of fanatical “Beliebers”), only certain kinds of recording artists–inevitably those whose music is mainstream and commercial–typically receive one of the Grammy’s most visible accolades.

Even though a great deal of so-called “popular music” is worthy and deserving of praise, it is not the only music that is, but that’s how it usually goes. Thankfully, the 2022 Album of the Year was awarded to We Are, by the Juilliard-trained Jon Batiste, which is a remarkably fluid compendium of styles incorporating rap, R&B, jazz, and even New Orleans brass bands that is at times reminiscent of Stevie Wonder’s evergreen polyglot masterpiece Songs in the Key of Life (which was awarded Best Album back in 1977). But don’t expect a specifically “contemporary classical” or “jazz”-oriented record to be designated as Album of the Year any time in the foreseeable future. Plus, to add insult to injury, for several years now, awards for categories deemed less consequential by the Recording Academy (including all those “classical” music awards) have no longer been doled out during the official televised ceremony, a tactic that the Academy Awards unfortunately emulated last month when it announced the award for composer of the best soundtrack off camera. (It would have been preferable to have seen this being announced live, even if it was for yet another award for Hans Zimmer.)

Still, there are many people to celebrate among the recipients of the 64th Annual Grammy Awards, and since several that we care about deeply were excluded from the TV show and, as a result, you might have missed them, we’re shining some light on them here.

The Grammy Award that is typically a headliner for NewMusicBox, that for Best Contemporary Classical Composition, this year did not disappoint as it was awarded to a composition by Caroline Shaw (who has previously been featured on these pages). Her winning work is a five-movement percussion quartet called Narrow Sea, which was recorded on Nonesuch in a performance by Sō Percussion who are also heroes in the new music community. (This recording also received a New Music USA Project Grant.) Of course, among the other nominees for that category this year are also folks we treasure: Andy Akiho (whom we’ve also featured in NewMusicBox), the late Louis Andriessen (who, in addition to being the most influential Dutch composer, was a beloved teacher of many Americans), and an album of works composed by prior New Music USA Project Grant recipient Clarice Assad, her father Sérgio Assad, and the four members of another maverick percussion quartet Third Coast Percussion (with whom we also spoke back in 2020).

We would have also been thrilled with a win by the remaining nominee, John Batiste, who to the chagrin of some “classical music purists” was under consideration for this award for a two-minute instrumental track from We Are called “Movement 11′.” It was exciting to see that it was nominated here, a step toward breaking down the obsessive categorization of music that winds up being so exclusionary, ironically mostly toward music that falls in categories that are so rigidly defined. The Recording Academy annually gives another award called Best Instrumental Composition, for which any music except that which is deemed “classical” seems to be eligible; this year it was awarded to the late Lyle Mays, a multi-Grammy-winning pianist and composer who had worked extensively with Pat Metheny. It’s interesting as well as encouraging that Batiste was nominated for the “classical” composition award rather than this one. But it might have been even more interesting and more encouraging if, say, Shaw or Akiho had been nominated for Best Instrumental Composition.

Another encouraging sign within the Classical Grammy Awards for several years now has been a preponderance of recordings devoted to new music among the nominees and this year was no exception. It was extremely gratifying to see Jennifer Koh be recognized with the Best Classical Instrumental Solo award for her performances of solo works that she commissioned from 20 different composers during the pandemic and has made available in performances online. Although I was disappointed that Christopher Cerrone‘s terrific album The Arching Path didn’t win Best Classical Compendium, awarding the prize to Women Warriors – The Voices of Change, a live to picture symphony orchestra soundtrack to a celebration of global social justice activists featuring arrangements of music by a group of Hollywood female composers and songwriters, was another notable genre bending moment. Plus the orchestrations were done by Catherine Joy, who is a grantee of New Music USA’s Reel Change Film Fund, a five-year grants and mentorship program for composers of diverse backgrounds who have been marginalized in film composition.

It was also nice to see the Metropolitan Opera receive the Best Opera Recording for its release of Akhnaten by Philip Glass, one of the few living composers whose works have been staged there and hopefully something that will encourage the Met to present works by more living composers. And although it is not the music of a living composer, giving Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Philadelphia Orchestra the Best Orchestral Performance Award for their Deutsche Grammophon CD devoted to two symphonies by Florence Price makes an important statement about the importance of this early 20th century African American female composer, the first black woman to have a composition of hers played by a major orchestra and whose output is finally getting recognition nearly 70 years after her death. For this same reason, though, it was disturbing that Yo Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax, two undeniably significant musicians, received the Best Chamber Music Award for yet another recording of the Beethoven’s oeuvre for cello and piano when all the other nominated recordings were devoted to music by living composers. Maybe it’s the best recording eve made of these five sonatas and three sets of variations, but it has a lot of stiff historic competition whereas none of the music on any of the other nominated recordings in this category has ever been previously recorded.

As for jazz, the late Chick Corea received yet another posthumous Grammy for Best Improvised Jazz Solo, the second year in a row that he has gotten this accolade. While Chick Corea was unarguably one of the finest keyboard soloists, the other (still living) nominees–Jon Batiste (there he is again), Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Kenny Barron, and Terence Blanchard (another member of the exclusive club of living composers whose music has been presented by the Metropolitan Opera)–are equally worthy musicians. And so are countless others who were not even nominated for this category which this year, along with Best Jazz Instrumental Album (given to Skyline, a trio effort by Ron Carter, Jack DeJohnette and Gonzalo Rubalcaba), seemed to be only eligible to male musicians. At least an album by 2015 Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Competition winner Jazzmeia Horn was among the nominees for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album, though it lost out to For Jimmy, Wes and Oliver, an album by the Christian McBride Big Band, and Brazilian pianist/composer Elaine Elias captured Best Latin Jazz Album award for Mirror, Mirror, an album of duets with (again) Chick Corea and Chucho Valdéz (who completed the remaining tracks after Corea died). All the more reason why there need to be initiatives like Next Jazz Legacy, a national apprenticeship program for women and non-binary improvisers in jazz that was launched earlier this year by New Music USA the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice.

The Grammys at least are aware that women are great jazz singers and this year’s award for Best Jazz Vocal Album was given to Songwrights Apothecary Lab, the eighth studio album by Esperanza Spalding, who plays bass and piano on this album in addition to singing. Again, though it’s wonderful to see Spalding repeatedly recognized for vital work (it’s her fifth Grammy), categorizing this music limits her identity and also pigeonholes this album (a collection of 12 pieces of music that Spalding calls “formwelas” rather than songs), ultimately diminishing the significance of her ongoing post-genre accomplishments.

Several other category-defying artists were also honored, albeit through awards in specific categories. Best Folk Album was awarded to They’re Calling Me Home, the latest recording by Rhiannon Giddens, who is equally versed in bluegrass, blues, R&B, gospel, and Celtic music, and co-composed an opera that will receive its world premiere in May at the Spoleto Festival. And Arooj Aftab, whose music is a fascinating amalgam of post-minimalist classical music, jazz, electronica, and traditional Sufi music, was awarded the amorphously worded Best Global Music Performance award for “Mohabbat,” a track from her New Amsterdam album Vulture Prince. (Note: Giddens serves on New Music USA’s Advisory Council while Aftab serves on the Program Council.) One final awardee also worth mentioning here is Béla Fleck who received an award for Best Bluegrass Album even though his stylistic proclivities are rarely straightjacketed into any single genre.

So a lot of recordings of great music did get recognized yesterday, but hopefully if more people hear them as a result of this attention they will realize that these recordings contain music that is so much more than the category names that have been placed on them in order to honor them.


2022 ASCAP Foundation Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award Winners Announced

ASCAP Foundation Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composers Awards Logo

The ASCAP Foundation has announced the recipients of the 2022 Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Awards. The recipients, who receive cash awards, are selected through a juried national competition. All in all, 21 composers were awarded and an additional 6 received honorable mention. Through a partnership with the Newport Festivals Foundation, one of this year’s Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Awards recipients will be featured by the Newport Jazz Festival.

A montage of photos of all the winners and honorable mentions in the 2022 ASCAP Foundation Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composers Awards

Photos of all the 2022 ASCAP Foundation Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award Recipients and Honorable Mentions. Top row pictured from left to right: Evan Abounassar, Ben Beckman, Sonya Belaya, Max Bessesen, Gabriel Chakarji, Jessica Curran, Sebastian de Urquiza;
Second row pictured from left to right: Michael R. Dudley Jr., Joseph Durben, Quinn Dymalski, Conner Eisenmenger, Eliana Fishbeyn, Kira Daglio Fine, Brandon Goldberg;
Third row pictured from left to right: Vicente Hansen, Ennis Suavengco Harris, Daiki Nakajima, Yu Nishiyama, Robert Perez, Gary (Kaiji) Wang, and Griffin Woodard;
Last row pictured from left to right: Claire Dickson, Michael Echaniz, Amanda Ekery, Chase Elodia, Peyton Nelesen, and Malcolm Xiellie.

Below is a complete list of the 2022 Recipients along with information about their award-winning compositions which, where possible, are linked to sites where you can hear them.

Evan Abounassar (b. 1999 in Yorba Linda, CA and currently still based there):
Nischala (Unwavering) for trumpet, tenor saxophone, piano, synthesizer, bass, and drum set [4’10”];

Benjamin Beckman (b. 2000 in Los Angeles CA; now based in New Haven CT): Voyage for jazz combo [46′];

Sonya Belaya (b. 1994 in Russia; now based in Brooklyn, NY):
sympathetic, nervous, ladder for piano, string quartet, drums/percussion, tenor saxophone, and guitar [8’52”];

Max Bessesen (b. 1994 in Denver, CO; now based in NYC):
Bakkam for alto saxophone, piano, acoustic bass, and drum set [7’20];

Gabriel Chakarji (b. 1993 in Caracas, Venezuela; now based in Brooklyn, NY):
Voices for full orchestra [4’31”];

Jessica Curran (b. 1993 in Sandwich, MA; now based in Boston, MA):
Returning for voice, guitar, piano, bass, and drums [5’25”];

Kira Daglio Fine (b. 1996 in Boston, MA and still based there):
The Towers for big band [6’19”];

Michael R. Dudley Jr. (b. 1994 in Cincinnati, OH; now based in Potsdam, NY):
Overture to The Before And After Times (“Tendrils”) for big band [8’11”];

Joseph Durben (b. 2004 in Buffalo, MN and still based there):
Tachyon for jazz big band with 2 flutes [10’27”];

Quinn Dymalski (b. 1998 in Park City, UT; currently based in Los Angeles, CA):
Buried for big band [5’43”];

Conner Eisenmenger (b. 1992 in Louisville, KY; currently in Seattle, WA):
Choice Paralysis for trombone, tenor saxophone, piano, acoustic bass, and drum set [4’26”];

Eliana Fishbeyn (b. 1996 Chapel Hill, NC; now based in NYC):
Unknown Knowns for big band [7’12”];

Brandon Goldberg (b. 2006 in Florida and still based there):
Authority for trumpet, saxophone, piano, bass, and drums [7’04”];

Vicente Hansen (b. 1992 in Santiago, Chile; now in Brooklyn, NY):
Reptilian for piano, bass, and drums [6’32”];

Ennis Suavengco Harris (b. 1998 in Exeter, CA; now in Los Angeles, CA):
Portrait Poem for chamber orchestra plus jazz septet [8’06”];

Daiki Nakajima (b. 2002 in Tokyo, Japan; now based in San Jose, CA):
Nostalgic Already for big band [7’54”];

Yu Nishiyama (b. 1994 in Yokohama, Japan; now based in Hawthorne, NJ):
Retrospections for 17-piece big band [10′];

Robert A. Perez (b. 1993 in Chino Hills, CA; now in Los Angeles, CA):
The Flowers Bloom for organ and piano [10’46”];

Sebastián de Urquiza (b. 1992 in Boston, MA; now in NYC):
The Ordeal (Suite) for trumpet, alto and tenor sax, trombone, guitar, piano, piano synth, double bass, drums, and vocals [40’20”];

Gary (Kaiji) Wang (b. 1996 in Miami, FL and still based there):
Souvenir for 13-piece big band [11’26”];

Griffin Woodard (b. 1998 in Bethlehem, PA; now based in Boston, MA):
Kyrie for big band [6’43”].

Composers receiving Honorable Mention this year are:

Claire Dickson (b. 1997 Medford, MA; now in Brooklyn, NY):
Thrill of Still for voice, trumpet, electronic drums, synths, bells and other found percussion [2’47”];

Michael Echaniz (b. 1994 in Oakland, CA; now in Los Angeles, CA):
Clockwork (Un Carillon De Musique, Dans La Fumeé Poétique) for tubular bells, 2 violins, 4 female vocal layers (soprano), electric piano, B3 organ, piano, double bass, and drum set [12’25”];

Amanda Ekery (b. 1994 in El Paso, TX; now in NYC):
Three Days for voice, viola, alto sax, oud, piano, bass, and percussion [4’13”];

Chase Elodia (b. 1994 in Norwalk, CT; now in Brooklyn, NY):
Portrait Imperfect for voice, EWI, keyboard, electric bass, and drums [5’46”];

Peyton Nelesen (b. 2007 in Chicago IL; currently based in California):
Wouldn’t You Like to Know? for big band with a second piano and a guitar [8’44”];

Malcolm Xiellie (b. 2007 in California and still based there):
Tribute to George for solo piano [8’18”].

The ASCAP composer/judges for the 2022 competition were: Fabian Almazan, Chuck Owen and Camille Thurman. Established in 2002, the program recognizes gifted young jazz composers up to the age of 30. It carries the name of composer, trumpeter, arranger, and bandleader Herb Alpert in recognition of The Herb Alpert Foundation’s multi-year financial commitment to the program. Additional funding for the program is provided by The ASCAP Foundation Bart Howard Fund.


Pondering New Digital Distribution Models and the Paul Revere Awards for Graphic Excellence—MPA 2019

A brown wooden table that has stacks of publications on it

The 2019 meeting of the Music Publishers Association, which took place last week in New York City, was a combination of reminiscences of the past and planning for the future, both in terms of legal issues and technology. Aside from the presentation of the annual MPA Lifetime Achievement Award, the Arnold Broido Award for Copyright Advocacy, and the Paul Revere Awards for Graphic Excellence, there were reports on the EU Copyright Directive, the USA’s Music Modernization Act, and a lively panel about digital distribution models for musical scores.J

Among the most moving segments of the afternoon was the MPA Administrative Director Brittain Ashford’s presentation of the 2019 MPA Lifetime Achievement Award to Iris Manus of Alfred Music during which she took out a coffee-stained chord handbook published by Alfred that has been a lifelong companion to her. In her equally emotional acceptance speech, Manus talked about her 60 year career at Alfred, transforming with her husband, the late Morty Manus, what was then a small business that published accordion music into a worldwide enterprise that currently has over 150,00 active titles in its catalog. The 2019 Arnold Broido Award for Copyright Advocacy was presented by John Shorney of Hope Music to Elwyn Raymer, President and CEO of the Church Music Publishers Association (CMPA) Action Fund, an initiative that was initiated in order to protect writers’ and publishers’ intellectual property rights and to rewrite the long outdated US copyright law. Raymer’s more than half century career in music publishing and production has encompassed serving as Minister of Music for churches in Arkansas and Texas to being President of Lorenz Creative Services, a leading publisher of scared music, and working with Bertelsmann Music Group to direct and manage BMG’s entry into Contemporary Christian Music.

Brittain Ashford and Iris Manus holding her MPA Lifetime Achievement Award

Brittain Ashford and Iris Manus (this photo and all other photos herein courtesy MPA)

A total of 33 sheet music publications received 2019 Paul Revere Awards for Graphic Excellence in a total of 12 award categories. Two of the publications, The Evolution of Fingerstyle Guitar by Laurence Juber (Hal Leonard LLC) and String Training, a collection of 80 reproducible worksheets for the beginning to intermediate orchestra classroom or private lesson studio by Kathryn Griesinger (Wingert-Jones Publications) received awards in two different categories. Among the other 2019 award-winning publications were the piano-vocal scores for two operas—David T. Little’s Soldier Songs and John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby—as well as Harbison’s For Violin Alone, a solo cello work co-composed by Gabriela Lena Frank and David Fetherolf, a composer who has long served as Frank’s music editor at G. Schirmer, two chamber music compositions by Pierre Jalbert, a previously unpublished newly discovered song by Kurt Weill, and works by Brian Balmages, Mohammed Fairouz, Nancy Galbraith, and Bright Sheng. The awards, which were established in 1964 in honor of the first music engraving in America (by the legendary American Revolution patriot Paul Revere), recognize publications which best exemplify high standards in music engraving, design, and utility.  For the 2019 awards, a total of 121 submissions were evaluated by a group of four judges. Kazue McGregor, Orchestra Librarian for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Ronald Whitaker, who served as Head Librarian for The Cleveland Orchestra from 1975 to 2008, served as the two engraving judges. Nim Ben-Reuven, a Brooklyn-based freelance art director, custom lettering artist, video producer, and installation designer, and Mallory Greg, an Art Director for MacMillan Children’s Publishing Group, served as the two graphics judges. Robert Sutherland, the Chief Librarian for The Metropolitan Opera, serves as the Coordinator of the Paul Revere Awards. (A complete list of the 2019 award winning publications is appended below.)

John Phelan and one of the slides in his PowerPoint presentation

John Phelan explains the ICMP

According to John Phelan of ICMP, the EU Copyright Directive was a way to counter the value gap for music due to an abuse of safe harbor.

John Phelan, the UK-based director general for the International Confederation of Music Publishers (ICMP), presented a report on the EU Copyright Directive and the potential worldwide impact of its implementation. According to Phelan, the directive, specifically Article 17 (ex art 13) which mandates upload filters, was a way to counter the value gap for music due to an abuse of safe harbor. Of top 500 YouTube videos, 486 are music-based and the average song on YT, a great many of which are uploaded without consent of the rights’ holders, is listened to more than 80,000 times by YT’s 1.9 billion monthly users, for which remuneration is negligible. Despite intense lobbying efforts mounted by YouTube’s parent company Google, the measures passed in the European parliament in late March.  After that, entertainment, media, copyright and trademark lawyer Corey Field gave a presentation on the newly Music Modernization Act, which was signed into law in the United States on October 2018. Among the notable aspects of the new law is that there is now protection for pre-1972 sound recordings, but no termination rights. He also noted that Karyn Temple was appointed to serve as the US Register of Copyrights on March 27, 2019 after serving in that role in an acting capacity without official title from October 21, 2016 to March 27, 2019, the longest time that the United States was without an official Register of Copyrights.

There was a lively panel about the digital distribution of musical scores moderated by Brittain Ashford. The four panelists were: Joseph Ciappina, who serves as a band director for Middletown Public Schools in New Jersey; Guy Barash, a composer and the founder of the digital consulting company, Dotted Eighth; Enrique López de Mesa, who serves as the managing director of nkoda, a digital sheet music subscription service that is currently licensed with 90 publishers; and Sara Griffin, the assistant principal librarian of the New York Philharmonic.

Enrique López de Mesa of nkoda said that it would be “foolish if we start pushing technology on people.”

Ashford began the discussion by pointing out than in data collected from the Major Orchestra Librarians Association (MOLA) in 2015, only 4 percent of their constituency do not get any requests for digital materials. Griffin was quick to counter, though, that there still is not a lot of “jumping to digital” at professional orchestras since the operations of these organizations are determined by lots of tradition. They “want digital as an option, but not the only thing they do.” They “send digital perusal scores to conductors who don’t want to carry stuff around. But when it comes to concert-time, 99.9% is paper.” López de Mesa concurred saying that while “26% of musicians want digital materials,” it would be “foolish if we start pushing technology on people.” However, Ciappina explained why digital materials are a better option for him.  “As a consumer, I don’t know instrumentation until very late. I go to e-print so I can get stuff immediately. I can’t wait to get materials in the mail. If I can’t view it, I’m less likely to buy it.” However, he also acknowledged that “in terms of tablets, etc., the school system is not quite there yet. We still look to paper because that’s what my 11-year-old can remember to bring to school.”

Joseph Ciappina, Guy Barash, Enrique López de Mesa, and Sara Griffin

Joseph Ciappina, Guy Barash, Enrique López de Mesa, and Sara Griffin

Obviously, one size does not fit all. Griffin pointed out that the New York Philharmonic plans 2 years in advance, which is “very different from a school,” and that performance materials “stay with us forever.” (Their rental parts are kept on “permanent loan,” as per agreements made with publishers.) But Barash believes that there “is a real need for a digital rental system” that is viable, though no one on the panel addressed Ashford’s question about whether there is any digital rental system that could ensure that materials distributed that way could only be accessed temporarily unless there was a prior agreement.

López de Mesa said that nkoda offer non-subscribers a free preview of scores which are stored and displayed as “secure file in our own proprietary format” which he claims is “unhackable.” However, for subscribers, “if you use the service, we know where you are. All our materials come with a warning that they can’t be performed without a rental agreement. We use technology to protect you.” He also said that through this service, nkoda is “also creating a new market for this material: students wanting to study these scores.”

Barash stated that there are currently “two big challenges.” The first is “political”—the conversation “should be more open to find solutions between publishers, orchestras, and tech companies.” The second involves “getting ready for the change to digital.” For publishers, this means having materials that are ready for digital conversion and having proper metadata for all their catalog. For orchestras, it’s about “getting them to learn rather than resist.” And for tech companies, it will require “more listening” to understand the needs of these two constituencies.

Before the 2019 MPA meeting was adjourned, Kathy Fernandes from JW Pepper gave a brief update on copyright education. The MPA has created a power point presentation which is accessible and downloadable from the MPA website so it can be used in schools and universities to give students a greater understanding of copyright and its benefits to society.

MPA annual meeting attendees examine the 2019 Paul Revere Award-winning scores

MPA annual meeting attendees examine the 2019 Paul Revere Award-winning scores

The 2019 Paul Revere Award winners

The 2019 Paul Revere Award winners are:

Cover Design Featuring Photography

First Prize
Soldier Songs piano/vocal score of the opera by David T. Little
Boosey & Hawkes, Inc./Hendon Music

Second Prize
String Training by Kathryn Griesinger
Wingert-Jones Publications

Third Prize
Sousa’s Marches – as He Performed Them by Keith Brion
Meredith Music Publications

Cover Design Featuring Graphic Elements

First Prize
Peaceful Piano Solos
Hal Leonard LLC

Second Prize TIE
Baroque and Classical Masterworks for Strings
Wingert-Jones Publications

More Masterworks for Strings
Wingert-Jones Publications

Third Prize
Canzona by Peter Mennin
Carl Fischer Music

Book Design in Popular Music

First Prize
Ragtime Fingerstyle Ukulele arrangements by Fred Sokolow
Hal Leonard LLC

Book Design in Concert & Educational Music

First Prize
Vaideology, basic music theory for guitar players, by Steve Vai
Hal Leonard LLC

Second Prize
String Training by Kathryn Griesinger
Wingert-Jones Publications

Third Prize
The Evolution of Fingerstyle Guitar by Laurence Juber
Hal Leonard LLC

Choral Music Notesetting

First Prize
Simple Settings for SAB Choirs, Volume 1
Hope Publishing Company

Second Prize
Christ the Lord is Risen Again by Donald McCullough
MorningStar Music Publishers

Third Prize
Revelation 19 by Jeffrey LaValley arranged for gospel chorus by Mark Hayes
Hope Publishing Company

Keyboard Music Notesetting

First Prize
Roman Sketches, op. 7 by Charles T. Griffes
Alfred Music

Second Prize
El Male Rachamim by Mohammed Fairouz
Peermusic Classical

Third Prize
Fantaisie-tableaux (Suite No. 1), op. 5, for two pianos, by Sergei Rachmaninoff
Alfred Music

Guitar Music Notesetting

First Prize
The Evolution of Fingerstyle Guitar by Laurence Juber
Hal Leonard LLC

Second Prize
The Great Arpeggios Book, 54 Pieces & 23 Exercises for Classical and Fingerstyle Guitar by John Hill
Hal Leonard LLC

Piano-Vocal Notesetting

First Prize
The Great Gatsby, piano/vocal score of the opera by John Harbison
Associated Music Publishers

Second Prize
“Lied vom blinden Mädchen” (“Song of the Blind Girl”) by Kurt Weill
European American Music Corp.

Third Prize
Foursquare Cathedral, a setting of five poems by Todd Boss for bass-baritone and piano, by Matt Boehler
ECS Music Company

Solos Notesetting, with accompaniment

First Prize
Introduction and Variations on “Trockne Blumen”, D. 802, by Franz Schubert (arranged for cello and piano)
International Music Company

Second Prize
Concerto in A Major, K. 622, for clarinet and piano, by W.A. Mozart (arranged by Charles Neidich)
Keiser Music

Third Prize TIE
Concerto, opus 8, for violin and piano, by Leo Portnoff
International Music Company

Zigeunerweisen, by Pablo de Sarasate (arranged for flute and piano by Jasmine Choi)
Theodore Presser Company

Solos Notesetting, without accompaniment

First Prize
Serenata, for solo cello, by Gabriela Lena Frank and David Fetherolf
Schirmer, Inc. and Associated Music Publishers

Second Prize
For Violin Alone by John Harbison
Associated Music Publishers

Third Prize
Piano Sonata No. 2 by Nancy Galbraith
Subito Music Corporation

Chamber Ensemble, Score and Parts Notesetting

First Prize
Wind Dances, for piano and wind quintet, by Pierre Jalbert
Schott Helicon Music Corp.

Second Prize
Light, Line, Shadow for flute/piccolo, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, double bass, and percussion, by Pierre Jalbert
Schott Helicon Music Corp.

Third Prize TIE
String Quartet No. 5 “The Miraculous” by Bright Sheng
Schirmer, Inc.

The Emperor and the Nightingale, for narrator, violin and piano, by Robert Mann
Peermusic Classical

Collated Music Notesetting

First Prize
Tower of Inspiration by Robert Thurston (wind band)
Excelcia Music Publishing, LLC

Second Prize
Pageant by Vincent Persichetti (wind band)
Carl Fischer Music

Third Prize
Dream Machine by Brian Balmages (wind band)
The FJH Music Company Inc.

Future of Publishing and Music Education Debated plus Awards Announced at MPA Annual Meeting

As in previous years, the annual get together of members of the Music Publishers Association of the United States at the Redbury Hotel in New York City combined a luncheon, legal and copyright updates, lively panel discussions, and an award ceremony, and concluded with a cocktail hour featuring live jazz performed by the John Murchison Trio.

After opening remarks by MPA President Sean Patrick Flahaven of The Musical Co., entertainment, media, copyright and trademark lawyer Corey Field provided the members with a legal update on matters relating to music publishing and copyright. According to Field, there has been a great deal of legislation in the past twelve months related to the interests of music publishers, perhaps the most significant being the August 4, 2016 ruling mandated full work licensing which is still being challenged by ASCAP and BMI since fractional licensing, which has been the standard practice prior to this ruling makes it easier to distribute revenue collected for works that are created by collaborators who are not necessarily members of the same PRO. Field sees this ruling as part of a trend toward greater consolidation in licensing. Yet despite this trend, Field also pointed out that there is now a fourth performing rights organization in the United States (in addition to ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC) named GMR (Global Music Rights). Though GMR boasts representing a mere .006% of the current music marketplace and only 70 members, those members include Bruce Springsteen and Don Henley as well as the estates of Prince and Ira Gershwin.

MPA annual meeting attendees looking at monitor display showing all the legal cases relevant to publishers from the past 12 months.

Corey Field’s powerpoint included a list of all the legal cases from teh past 12 months that had an impact on music pubilshers. There was lots of small print.

Record and music publishing industry veteran Jay R. Morgenstern, who is currently the Executive Vice President/General Manager of Warner Chappell Music Inc. was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Although he was not able to attend, four of his six grandchildren came to the podium to accept the award on his behalf. Immediately following that, the Paul Revere Awards for Graphic Excellence were announced by Brittain Ashford, Administrative Director for the Music Publishers Association. Two scores by Daniel Dorff and two scores by the Argentinian composer Albert Ginastera, whose centenary was celebrated last year, fetched first prize honors, and other publications so honored were scores of works by Charles Ives, Elliott Carter, and Mark Patterson. Among scores receiving second or third prizes for their engraving and overall appearance were works by Michael Daugherty, Aaron Jay Kernis, Paul Moravec, Scott Wollschleger, two compositions by Hannah Lash, and a solo viola sonata that John Harbison composed in his early 20s. As in last year’s awards, there is no longer an award category for “Publications for Electronic Distribution” since at this point publishers can submit digital scores for consideration in any of the other categories.  A complete list of winning publications in the 13 different award categories appears below.

Full Scores
1st Prize – Daniel Dorff: Summer Solstice (Theodore Presser Company)
2nd Prize – Claude Vivier: Liebesgedichte (Boosey & Hawkes)
3rd Prize – Peter J. Wilhousky: Battle Hymn of the Republic (Carl Fischer, LLC)

Chamber Ensembles (scores and parts)
1st Prize – Charles Ives: String Quartet No. 2 (Peermusic Classical)
2nd Prize – Hannah Lash: How to Remember Seeds (Schott Music Corporation)
3rd Prize – Scott Wollschleger: Brontal Symmetry (Schott Music Corporation)

Choral Music
1st Prize – Mark Patterson: Stand with the Brave (Carl Fischer, LLC)
2nd Prize – Benjamin Wegner: He Leadeth Me (ECS Publishing Group)
3rd Prize – Paul Moravec: Mass in D (Subito Music Corporation)

Keyboard Music
1st Prize – Alberto Ginastera: Piano Concerto No. 2 (Boosey & Hawkes)
2nd Prize (tie) –
Jacques Ibert: Histories (Alfred Music)
F. Chopin: Scherzos, opp. 30, 31, 29, 54 (Alfred Music)
3rd Prize – Hannah Lash: Ludus (Schott Music Corporation)

Guitar Music
1st Prize – Chinese Music for Guitar (Hal Leonard)
2nd Prize – The Young Beginner Guitar Method, Christmas Book 3 (The FJH Music Co. Inc.)

Piano-Vocal Music
1st Prize – Alberto Ginastera: Bomarzo, vocal score from the opera (Boosey & Hawkes)
2nd Prize – The Essential Collection for the Church Soloist, Vol. II (Hope Publishing Co.)
3rd Prize – Aaron Jay Kernis: Two Songs: “Love” and “Spirit” (G. Schirmer/Associated Music Publishers)

Solos with Accompaniment
1st Prize – Daniel Dorff: Serenade for flute and harp (Theodore Presser Company)
2nd Prize – Morton Lauridsen: O Magnum Mysterium for violin and piano (Peermusic Classical)
3rd Prize – Edward Knight: Nevertheless, She Persisted for French horn and piano (Subito Music Corporation)

Solos without Accompaniment
1st Prize – Elliott Carter: Retracings V for solo trombone (Boosey & Hawkes)
2nd Prize – John H. Beck: Encounters for solo timpani (Kendor Music)
3rd Prize – John Harbison: Sonata for Viola Alone (1961) (Gems Music Publications)

Collated Music (Band, Orchestra, or Large Ensemble, Score & Parts)
1st Prize – W. A. Mozart: “Voi Che Sapete” arranged for string orchestra by John Caponegro (Kendor Music)
2nd Prize – Erik Morales: Keepers of the Fire for concert band (The FJH Music Co. Inc.)
3rd Prize – Maurice Jarre: Lawrence of Arabia arranged for concert band by Alfred Reed (Keiser Southern Music)

Cover Design Featuring Photography
1st Prize – Benjamin Whitcomb: Bass Fingerings (Wingert-Jones Publications)
2nd Prize – Michael Daugherty: Bay of Pigs (Hendon Music/Boosey & Hawkes)

Cover Design Featuring Graphic Elements
1st Prize – Frank Battisti: The Conductor’s Challenge (Meredith Music Publications)
2nd Prize (tie) –
John Carter: Jazz Miniatures (ECS Publishing Group)
José Hernández: Canta, Mariachi, Canta! (Hal Leonard)
3rd Prize – Darren Fellows: New Studies for Trumpet (Kendor Music)

Design in Folios: Popular Music
1st Prize – Pearl Jam Anthology, Complete Scores (Hal Leonard)
2nd Prize – Led Zeppelin: The Complete Studio Recordings (Alfred Music)
3rd Prize – My First Gershwin Song Book (Hal Leonard)

Design in Folios: Concert & Educational Music
1st Prize – Endre Granat: The Heifetz Scale Book (Keiser Southern Music)
2nd Prize – Mickey’s Found Sounds (Hal Leonard)

Sheet music scores arranged on a table.

As in previous years, Paul Revere nominated scores were on display.

The engraving judges were Katharina Hoezenecker, Librarian for the Berlin Philharmonic, and Tony Rickard, Music Library Manager for Royal Opera House at Covent Garden. Graphics judges were, as per last year, Mallory Grigg, Art Director at Alloy Entertainment and Nim Ben-Reuven, a freelance designer and graphics editor working primarily in print.

Following the Paul Revere Awards, there were screenings of the 2017 MPA & National Music Council Scholarship Finalists for copyright awareness videos. (You can see last year’s honorees here.)

Jason Varga, Ann Gregg, Jim Frankel, Marcia Neel, and Mendy Varga

Jason Varga, Ann Gregg, Jim Frankel, Marcia Neel, and Mendy Varga

Then Mendy Varga from Kendor Music moderated a discussion about the future of music in public education for which she was joined by Jim Frankel, Ann Gregg, Marcia Neel, and Jason Varga. Marcia Neel spoke about how engaged students in the Southwest are learning mariachi music, claiming that, if we want to keep students interested, “we need to look beyond the traditional trinity of band, choir, and orchestra.” Although panelist Jim Frankel is the head of digital education for the Music Sales Group, he pointed out that the transition from print sheet music to scores displayed on digital monitors is not happening in schools: “There isn’t enough budget for that and there won’t be twenty years from now.” He also acknowledged that “print is awesome in the music classroom.”

Then EAMDC/Schott Promotion Manager Chris Watford, Ian McLoughlin, manager for instrumental product sales and product development at J.W. Pepper, and self-published composer Dennis Tobenski, who runs an online distribution platform for other self publishers called New Music Shelf, participated in a discussion about how the digital realm has transformed the music publishing marketplace. American Composers Alliance Director Gina Genova was also scheduled to participate in this panel but was unable to attend though thankfully she provided detailed answers to all the questions that were distributed to the panel in advance. (Ed note: I served as the moderator for this one.)

Andrew Norman Wins $100K Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition

Play, a 47-minute orchestral work by American composer Andrew Norman, is the winner of the 2017 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition. The $100,000 prize, which is open to living composers based anywhere in the world, awards outstanding achievement in a large musical genre–choral, orchestral, chamber, electronic, song-cycle, dance, opera, musical theater, extended solo work, and more–and is granted for a work premiered during the five-year period prior to the award deadline (i.e. the time period Jan.1, 2011 – Dec. 31, 2015 for the 2017 award). Previous recipients include Witold Lutoslawski, György Ligeti, Joan Tower, John Corigliano, Toru Takemitsu, John Adams, Pierre Boulez, Aaron Jay Kernis, and Kaija Saariaho.

Andrew Norman’s Play explores the relationship of choice and chance, free will and control. The three-movement work investigates the ways musicians in an orchestra can play with, against, or apart from one another; and maps concepts from the world of video gaming onto traditional symphonic structures to tell a fractured narrative of power, manipulation, deceit and, ultimately, cooperation. “Play combines brilliant orchestration, which is at once wildly inventive and idiomatic, with a terrific and convincing musical shape based on a relatively small amount of musical source material,” said Award Director Marc Satterwhite. “It ranges effortlessly from brash to intimate and holds the listener’s interest for all of its 47 minutes—no small feat in these days of shortened attention spans.”

Play was commissioned by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, with funding from Music Alive, a national residency program of the League of American Orchestras and New Music USA. The Boston Modern Orchestra Project performed the piece’s premiere in 2013, and released a recording on its own label.  Since then, the piece has garnered considerable attention and critical acclaim. It was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Classical Contemporary Composition, and critic and musicologist William Robin said it “might be the best orchestral work that the twenty-first century has seen thus far.”

Norman, a Los Angeles-based composer of orchestral, chamber and vocal music, draws on an eclectic mix of instrumental sounds, notational practices, and non-linear narrative structures in his work. His symphonic music has been performed by leading ensembles worldwide, such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw, and the Orchestre National de France.  Norman has won both the Rome Prize and the Berlin Prize, the Guggenheim Fellowship, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Music in 2012 for his string trio The Companion Guide to Rome. He recently was named Musical America’s 2017 Composer of the Year. Norman’s music is published exclusively worldwide by Schott Music.

In December 2013, Alexandra Gardner spoke with Andrew Norman for NewMusicBox.

All 2017 Grawemeyer Award winners will be announced this week, pending formal approval by the university’s board of trustees. The University of Louisville presents the prizes annually for outstanding works in music composition, ideas improving world order, psychology, and education, and gives a religion prize jointly with Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. The 2017 winners will present free lectures about their award-winning ideas when they visit Louisville in April to accept their prizes.

(–from the press release)

Carlos Simon Wins $15,000 ACO Underwood Emerging Composer Commission

American Composers Orchestra (ACO) has awarded composer Carlos Simon its 2016 Underwood Commission, bringing him $15,000 for a work that will be given its world premiere performance by ACO on May 23, 2017 at Symphony Space in New York City. Chosen from seven finalists during ACO’s 25th Underwood New Music Readings on June 13-14, 2016, Simon won the top prize with his work Plagues of Egypt.

Composer, arranger and performer Carlos Simon combines the influences of jazz, gospel, and neo-romanticism in his music. Simon was named the winner of the 2015 Marvin Hamlisch Film Scoring Contest. Serving as music director and keyboardist for GRAMMY Award winner Jennifer Holliday, he has performed with the Boston Pops Symphony, Jackson Symphony, and the St. Louis Symphony. Simon is currently earning his Doctorate Degree at the University of Michigan, where he has studied with Michael Daugherty and Evan Chambers. He received his Master’s Degree at Georgia State University studying with Nickitas Demos and earned his Bachelor’s Degree at Morehouse College studying with Robert Tanner. In 2011, he was on faculty at Morehouse College, teaching music theory. For the 2015-2016 season, Carlos Simon served as the young composer-in-residence for the Detroit Chamber Strings and Winds.

Upon winning the Underwood commission, Carlos Simon said, “I am extremely grateful to be chosen for this prestigious opportunity. As a composer, there is no greater honor than to express my gifts through such amazingly talented musicians. I can’t wait to work with Maestro Manahan and ACO.” ACO Artistic Director Derek Bermel added, “Carlos Simon’s score was rich, colorful, and bold, brimming with dramatic urgency.”

In addition, for the seventh year, audience members at the Underwood New Music Readings had a chance to make their voices heard through the Audience Choice Award. The winner this year was composer Paul Frucht, for his piece Dawn, written for his middle school assistant principal Dawn Hochsprung, who was killed in 2012’s shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. As the winner, Frucht will compose an original mobile phone an original mobile phone ringtone which will be available to everyone who voted, free of charge.

(—from the press release)

2017 NEA Jazz Masters Fellows Announced

NEA logo

The National Endowment for the Arts has announced the 2017 NEA Jazz Masters Fellows, which is the United States government’s highest honor in jazz. Five individuals (four musicians and one advocate)—vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater, composer/pianist Dick Hyman, composer/bassist Dave Holland, composer/organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, and jazz historian Ira Gitler—will be recognized for their lifetime achievements and exceptional contributions to the advancement of jazz. Each will receive a $25,000 award and be honored at a tribute concert on Monday, April 3, 2017, produced in collaboration with the Kennedy Center, which will be free and open to the public and also available through a live web stream.

NEA Chairman Jane Chu said, “For 35 years, the National Endowment for the Arts has celebrated jazz, one of our nation’s most important cultural contributions, by honoring those who have dedicated their lives to this music. I am pleased to welcome these five individuals with their artistry, energy, and commitment to jazz to the NEA Jazz Masters family.”

A collage of photos of the 2017 NEA Jazz Masters

Bridgewater is a daring performer of great depth whose singing talents have earned her both a Tony and multiple Grammy Awards. In addition, her commanding personality made her a natural for hosting the award-winning National Public Radio syndicated radio show JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater from 2001 to 2014.

Holland is one of the most versatile bassists in jazz, working across different styles seamlessly, from traditional to avant-garde jazz to world and folk music. He is also an accomplished composer and bandleader, bringing together musicians of exceptional talent to perform his intricate compositions. In a career spanning five decades, he has continued to evolve musically with each new project while honing his instantly identifiable sound.

Hyman is a piano virtuoso who has been known for playing in any style he wants. A masterful improviser, he is also a composer of concertos and chamber music, and the soundtrack composer/arranger for more than a dozen Woody Allen films. In addition, he launched the acclaimed Jazz in July series at the 92nd Street Y in New York City and served as its artistic director for 20 years.

Smith is a master Hammond B3 jazz organist and composer who, in a career spanning more than 50 years, has been featured on more than 70 jazz, blues, and rhythm-and-blues recordings. He is considered one of the premier purveyors of funk/soul jazz.

Gitler is an American jazz historian, journalist, educator, and author who has written several books about jazz and hundreds of liner notes for jazz recordings. He has also written for many jazz publications, and served as associate editor of Downbeat during the 1960s. In the 1980s and ’90s he produced concerts for George Wein’s New York jazz festivals. Gitler also taught jazz history at several colleges and is considered one of the great historians and champions of the music.

Each year since 1982, the National Endowment for the Arts has conferred the NEA Jazz Masters award. With this new class, the NEA has awarded 145 fellowships to great figures in jazz. NEA Jazz Master Fellowships are bestowed on living individuals on the basis of nominations from the public including the jazz community. The NEA encourages nominations of a broad range of men and women who have been significant to the field of jazz, through vocals, instrumental performance, creative leadership, and education. The annual award for a non-performing jazz advocate, bestowed upon an individual who has contributed significantly to the appreciation, knowledge, and advancement of the art form of jazz, is named in honor of poet, music critic and historian A.B. Spellman who served as an NEA Administrator from 1975 to 2005. The NEA also supports the Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Program, an effort to document the lives and careers of NEA Jazz Masters. In addition to transcriptions of the comprehensive interviews, the website also includes audio clips with interview excerpts. This project has transcribed the oral histories of more than 90 NEA Jazz Masters. The NEA is currently accepting nominations for the 2018 NEA Jazz Masters (deadline: December 31, 2016). Visit arts.gov/honors/jazz for more information and to submit a nomination.

(—from the press release)


Music Publishers Association Announces 2016 Paul Revere Awards

A display of the 2016 Paul Revere Award winning scores

The 2016 Paul Revere Awards for Graphic Excellence were announced during the luncheon of the annual meeting of the Music Publishers Association at the Redbury Hotel in New York City on Friday, June 10. Among the award-winning publications were a violin concerto by Steven Mackey, a timpani concerto by William Kraft, a Thelonious Monk-inspired wind band piece by John Harbison, two settings of poems by E. E. Cummings for women’s chorus by Augusta Read Thomas, and a work for flute orchestra by Daniel Dorff. All-in-all, publications in 13 separate award categories, ranging from educational folios to piano and guitar solos to choral and full orchestra scores, were honored. As perhaps a sign of changing times, the award category “Publications for Electronic Distribution” has been eliminated since at this point publishers can submit digital scores for consideration in any of the other categories.  A complete list of award-winning publications appears below.

Full Scores

1st Prize – Steven Mackey: Beautiful Passing, a concerto for violin and orchestra (Hendon Music, Boosey & Hawkes)
2nd Prize – William Bolcom: String Quartets Nos. 1 – 6 (Edward B. Marks)

Chamber Ensembles

1st Prize – Daniel Dorff: Zoe & Xena for piccolo and bass clarinet (Theodore Presser Company)
2nd Prize – Dotzauer: Three Sonatas, op. 103 (International Music Company)
3rd Prize – James Lee III: String Quartet No. 2 (Subito Music Corporation)

Choral Music

1st Prize – Morton Lauridsen: Sure on this Shining Night (Peermusic Classical)
2nd Prize (tie) – Augusta Read Thomas: Two E. E. Cummings Songs (G. Schirmer, Inc.)
2nd Prize (tie) – Psalms for the Church: Advent and Christmas (World Library Publications)
3rd Prize – Mary McDonald (composer) and Rose M. Aspinall (lyricist): My Savior’s Love, a musical for Holy Week (Hope Publishing Co.)

Keyboard Music

1st Prize – Glenn Gould’s Goldberg Variations (Carl Fischer)
2nd Prize – Edward MacDowell: Classics for the Advancing Pianist (Alfred Music)
3rd Prize – Raymond Scott: Powerhouse (Music Sales Corporation)

Guitar Music

1st Prize – John Williams: Rounds (Hall Leonard Corporation)
2nd Prize – Philip W. Groeber, ed.: The Big & Easy Songbook for Guitar with Tablature (The FJH Company Inc.)

Piano-Vocal Music

1st Prize – Christopher Cerrone: I Will Learn to Love a Person (Schott Music Corporation)
2nd Prize – Richard Hundley: Are They Shadows (Schott Music Corporation)
3rd Prize – The Christmas Family Songbook (Alfred Music)

Solos with Accompaniment

1st Prize – William Kraft: Concerto No. 1 for Timpani and Orchestra (Theodore Presser Company)
2nd Prize (tie) – Bottesini: Fantasia Lucia di Lammermoor (International Music Company)
2nd Prize (tie) – Romberg: Sonata in E Minor, op. 38 no. 1 (International Music Company)
3rd Prize– Eccles: Sonata in G Minor (International Music Company)

Solos without Accompaniment

1st Prize – Schradieck: School of Viola Technique, Volume II (International Music Company)
2nd Prize – Elliott Carter: Mnemosyné for solo violin (Hendon Music, Boosey & Hawkes)

Collated Music (Band, Orchestra, or Large Ensemble, Score & Parts)

1st Prize – Daniel Dorff: Fireworks for flute orchestra (Theodore Presser Company)
2nd Prize – John Harbison: Rubies for symphonic band (Associated Music Publishers, G. Schirmer, Inc.)
3rd Prize – Bernhard Heiden: Diversion for alto saxophone and concert band (Keiser Southern Music)

Cover Design Featuring Photography

1st Prize – Todd A. Harris: The Lyric Flutist (Wingert-Jones Publications)
2nd Prize – Sunday Solos for Flute (Hal Leonard Corporation)
3rd Prize – Michael Daugherty: Trail of Tears for flute and chamber orchestra (Hendon Music, Boosey & Hawkes)

Cover Design Featuring Graphic Elements

1st Prize – The Christmas Family Songbook (Alfred Music)
2nd Prize – John Jacobson and John Higgins: Wing It! (Hal Leonard Corporation)
3rd Prize – Kendor Debut Solos (Kendor Music Inc.)

Design in Folios: Popular Music

1st Prize – The Songs of Cole and Johnson Brothers (E. B. Marks)

Design in Folios: Concert & Educational Music

1st Prize – Peanuts Music Activity Book (Hal Leonard Corporation)
2nd Prize – 25 Great Jazz Guitar Solos (Hal Leonard Corporation)
3rd Prize – Alfred’s Kid’s Electric Guitar Course 1 (Alfred Music)

Robert Sutherland, Chief Librarian for The Metropolitan Opera, announced the winners. This year’s Revere Awards were overseen by Sutherland. The engraving judges were Kazue McGregor, Principal Librarian for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Ronald Whitaker, Principal Librarian (retired) for the Cleveland Orchestra. Graphics judges were Nim Ben-Reuven, a freelance designer and graphics editor working primarily in print, and Mallory Grigg, a senior designer at Simon & Schuster.

Dean Kay and I. Fred Koenigsberg

Dean Kay and I. Fred Koenigsberg

Prior to the announcement of all the 2016 Revere winning scores, two additional awards were given out at the luncheon. MPA Counsel and Acting Schott Music Corporation/EAMDLLC President James M. Kendrick presented I. Fred Koenigsberg with the MPA Lifetime Achievement Award. Koenigsberg, who has spent his career as an attorney specializing in copyright and related intellectual property law, has been president of the American Intellectual Property Law Association (the first copyright lawyer to serve in that position) as well as chairman of the American Bar Association Section of Intellectual Property Law. Serving as in-house counsel for the American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP) for 18 years, after his retirement Koenigsberg continues to serve as counsel to ASCAP’s Board of Directors. Newly elected MPA President Sean Patrick Flahaven, Senior Vice President of Theatre and Catalog Development for Warner/Chappell Music (WCM), presented Dean Kay with the Arnold Broido Award for Copyright Advocacy. Kay, a songwriter and music publisher who also serves on ASCAP’s board, is the editor of “The Dean’s List,” a daily email digest of news about music, copyright and new technology in the entertainment industry.

Natalie Madaj

Natalie Madaj compared the late 1990s to today during her presentation about the need to update the DMCA.

Natalie Madaj from the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) spoke to the MPA membership about efforts that are underway to work toward updating the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act to better deal with the realities of the current digital landscape. There was an afternoon panel titled “We Don’t Want it Free We Want in NOW” which debated the use of PDFs in orchestras, libraries and schools. Composer Daniel Dorff, who is also the Vice President of the Theodore Presser Company, moderated the discussion. There was also a presentation of videos created by the 2016 Copyright Awareness Scholarship Finalists. As per MPA’s tradition, the annual meeting ended with a cocktail reception which this year was accompanied by live jazz performed by the John Murchison Trio.

Paul Gunther, James Matheson, Elizabeth Davis, Erin Rogers, Susan Bush, and Daniel Dorff

Panelists for the afternoon MPA panel (pictured left to right): Minnesota Orchestra librarian Paul Gunther, composer James Matheson, Columbiua University Chief Music Librarian Elizabeth Davis, composer/saxophonist/Peermusic Production Manager Erin Rogers, Albany Records President Susan Bush, and composer/Theodore Presser VP Daniel Dorff

Henry Threadgill wins 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Music

Henry Threadgill

Henry Threadgill

In for a Penny, In for a Pound by Henry Threadgill (released on Pi Recordings on May 26, 2015) has been named the winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Music. The annually awarded $10,000 prize is for a distinguished musical composition by an American that has had its first performance or recording in the United States during the previous year. The jury described it as “a highly original work in which notated music and improvisation mesh in a sonic tapestry that seems the very expression of modern American life.”

According to the Pi website, Threadgill’s six-movement work, created for his quintet Zooid (Liberty Ellman – electric guitar, Christopher Hoffman – cello, Jose Davila – tuba and trombone, Elliot Humberto Kavee – drums, and Threadgill – multiple winds), includes four main movements written specifically to feature each of the other musicians in the group: “Ceroepic” for Elliott Kavee, “Dosepic” for Christopher Hoffman, “Tresepic” for Jose Davila, and “Unoepic” for Liberty Ellman. They are introduced by an opening shorter piece and sandwich an exordium (“In for a Penny, In for a Pound” and “Off The Prompt Box”, respectively.) Threadgill’s own alto saxophone, flute, and bass flute is woven throughout each section. As with all of his music for Zooid, the music employs a strategy of Threadgill’s own device: a set of three note intervals assigned to each player that serves as the starting point for improvisation. Below is a link to two of the tracks from the recording.

Below is a link to a 2010 NewMusicBox talk with Henry Threadgill.

Also nominated as finalists in this category were: The Blind Banister by Timo Andres, premiered on November 27, 2015, in St. Paul, MN by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra (and published by Andres & Sons Bakery), which the jury described as “a three-movement piece inspired by Beethoven that takes listeners on a beautiful quest in which they rise and fall with the music’s ascending and descending scales”; and The Mechanics: Six from the Shop Floor a six movement saxophone quartet by Carter Pann, that the jury decribed as “a suite that imagines its four saxophonists as mechanics engaged in a rhythmic interplay of precision and messiness that is by turns bubbly, pulsing, dreamy, and nostalgic.” (The work appears on a Capitol Quartet recording released on September 8, 2015 on the Blue Griffin label which also features saxophone quartets by Stacy Garrop, John Anthony Lennon, and the French composer Alfred Desenclos.) In addition, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical Hamilton has been awarded the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Drama.

The jury for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize was: Julia Wolfe, 2015 Pulitzer Prize winning composer, Bang on a Can co-artistic director, and assistant professor of music composition, New York University (Chair); William Banfield, composer, recording artist, and professor of liberal arts, Berklee College of Music, Boston; Scott Cantrell, classical music critic, The Dallas Morning News; Regina Carter, jazz violinist, Maywood, NJ; and Pamela Tatge, director, Center for the Arts, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT.

About Those 2016 Grammy Nominations

The official social profile image for the Grammy Awards, a cartoon of an old horn gramophone.

The 58th annual Grammy Award nominations were announced by The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences this morning. The Grammy ceremony will take place once again at L.A.’s Staples Center on Feb. 15, 2016, and will be broadcast on CBS. A complete list of nominations in all 83 award categories is available on the Recording Academy’s website.

For the next few months media pundits will probably debate whether the latest from Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar, or The Weeknd will get the nod as 2016 Album of the Year, but the choice for Best Contemporary Classical Composition might ultimately be more interesting. It certainly seems even more competitive. Odds might favor Julia Wolfe’s Anthracite Fields (just released by Cantaloupe Music in September in a performance featuring the Bang on a Can All-Stars joined by The Choir Of Trinity Wall Street conducted by Julian Wachner) since it was already awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in Music back in April and the 2015 Best CCC Grammy went to John Luther Adams’s Become Ocean, a work beloved by Taylor Swift, which was awarded the Pulitzer last year. However, it might be too soon to rule out Andrew Norman’s Play since it has been hailed by several influential music critics as possibly the most important 21st-century orchestral work. Also, the Grammy adjudicators love anniversaries and it is the 20th anniversary for the folks performing Play on the recording, Gil Rose’s Boston Modern Orchestra Project, who have also recently been named Ensemble of the Year by Musical America.

Then again, the only thing that gets the Grammy folks to pay attention more than a big number anniversary is memorializing someone. Another one of the 2016 nominees, Prayers and Remembrances by Stephen Paulus, fits that category on multiple levels. Friends of people who were killed on the September 11, 2001 United and American Airline flights commissioned it for a performance on the 10th anniversary. And the recording the work is included on, an all-Paulus choral disc titled Far in the Heavens, was the final disc of Paulus’s music recorded under his supervision since shortly after the recording sessions Paulus suffered a stroke from which he never recovered and died in October 2014. However, Grammys sometimes beget other Grammys. The only nominee who has previously won is Joan Tower—in 2008, for Made in America recorded by Naxos. This year Tower is up for the honor once again for her 2010 composition Stroke, also on Naxos. So the only longshot this year is The Importance of Being Earnest, a 2010 Oscar Wilde-inspired opera by Irish composer Gerald Barry released by the British label NMC Recordings, which was surprisingly overlooked for Best Opera recording (all nominated operas are by long dead composers) even though the star of Earnest is the phenomenal Barbara Hannigan and the recording is conducted by Thomas Adès. So if Barry’s opera were to actually win, it would vindicate the Grammy’s sin of omission in the other award category.

While recordings of operas by contemporary composers appear to have been locked out of the Best Opera nominations, nominations in other classical categories include more recent fare. Contemporary music dominates the repertoire of discs nominated for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance. Aside from discs devoted to Brahms and Shostakovich, everything else is cutting-edge new. All nine of the works featured on Render, the vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth’s latest New Amsterdam disc, are world-premiere recordings (including Missy Mazzoli’s Vesper Sparrow, which is among the works chosen to be performed at the 2016 ISCM World Music Days). Four of the five pieces on Filament, a Cedille disc by the sextet eighth blackbird, are also world premieres; the only “old” piece is Philip Glass’s 1968 composition Two Pages, although 8bb’s arrangement for this work whose instrumentation is left up to the performers is the first for this specific instrumental combination. The remaining nominee is Tom Flaherty’s Airdancing, a work scored for toy piano, piano, and electronics performed by Nadia Shpachenko and Genevieve Feiwen Lee on Shpachenko’s album Woman at the New Piano (on Reference Recordings). So all bets are off on who the winner will be. In the Best Choral Performance category, the aforementioned all-Stephen Paulus recording, Far in the Heavens (performed by True Concord Voices and Orchestra under the direction of Eric Holtan), seems a favorite, but in addition to competition from recordings devoted to Monteverdi, Beethoven, and Rachmaninoff, another nominee, Pablo Neruda: The Poet Sings, is an all-American choral disc performed by Conspirare under the direction of Craig Hella Johnson featuring works by Donald Grantham, Shawn Kirchner, and Cary Ratcliff.

Woman at the New Piano has also been nominated for Best Classical Compendium, as has Ask Your Mama, a Langston Hughes-inspired, polystylistic multi-media gesamkunstwerk composed by Laura Karpman (Avie Records) and another album devoted to the music of Stephen Paulus—a Naxos disc containing Veil of Tears for strings and two of his concertos, the Grand Concerto for organ and orchestra and Three Places of Enlightenment for string quartet and orchestra. The only recording of music by a living composer to be nominated for Best Classical Instrumental Solo is Ursula Oppens’s new Cedille recording of Frederick Rzewski’s The People United Will Never Be Defeated, but considering how many recordings of that piece have now been made (including a previous one by Oppens, which was its first), it is tempting to think of it as standard repertoire as well. Ask Your Mama is also up for Best Engineered Album and its engineer, Judith Sherman (who also was behind the console for the Rzewski disc) is in the running for Producer of the Year, Classical facing off against Blanton Alspaugh, Marina A. Ledin and Victor Ledin, ECM’s Manfred Eicher, and Dan Merceruio of Sono Luminus. The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra’s recording of Symphony ‘Humen 1839’, a joint composition by husband and wife Zhou Long and Chen Yi, is up for Best Orchestral Performance, as is an all-American disc (on Pentatone) performed by the Oregon Symphony conducted by Carlos Kalmar entitled Spirit of the American Range which includes works by George Antheil, Aaron Copland, and Walter Piston. Another orchestral disc, a Naxos all-Christopher Rouse album performed by the Albany Symphony conducted by David Alan Miller, has strangely been nominated for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album. While the disc contains Kabir Padavali, one of Rouse’s few vocal compositions and a total winner, and soprano Talise Trevigne’s performance of it is stunning, it is only one of two works on the album; the other work—the piano concerto Seeing which features pianist Orion Weiss—is completely non-vocal.

Scores by Alexandre Desplat (The Imitation Game), Justin Hurwitz (Whiplash), Jóhann Jóhannsson (The Theory of Everything), and Antonio Sanchez (Birdman), and Hans Zimmer (Interstellar) are the finalists for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media whereas brand new works will face off against two 1951 scores that have been revived this past year for Best Musical Theater Album. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, Jeanine Tesori’s Fun Home and Something Rotten! by Karey Kirkpatrick and Wayne Kirkpatrick will be challenged by Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I and a stage adaptation of the George Gershwin-songed motion picture An American in Paris.

In the various jazz categories, Joey Alexander, Christian McBride, Donny McCaslin, Joshua Redman, and John Scofield have all been nominated for Best Improvised Jazz Solo and albums by Alexander and Scofield will compete against discs by Terence Blanchard, Robert Glasper, and Jimmy Greene for Best Jazz Instrumental Album. Nominees in this category are exclusively for smaller combos since the Grammys offer another award, Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album, for bigger groups; the 2016 contenders for that accolade are the Gil Evans Project, Marshall Gilkes and WDR Big Band, Arturo O’Farrill and The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, Patrick Williams, and the Maria Schneider Orchestra. Maria Schneider, of course, was the recipient of the Best Contemporary Classical Composition Award for her Winter Morning Walks in 2014; 21st-century music reality, unlike the Grammy Awards, is not neatly compartmentalized into distinguishable musical genres.

Perhaps the strangest of all Grammy categories is Best Instrumental Composition which perversely excludes works nominated for Best Contemporary Classical Composition from consideration—although one of the 2016 nominees, David Balakrishnan’s Confetti Man, is the title track from the latest album of his group, the Turtle Island Quartet, released on the “classical” label Azica Records. Among the others are Arturo O’Farrill’s Afro Latin Jazz Suite and Marshall Gilkes’s Vesper from their respective Best Large Jazz Ensemble-nominated albums Cuba: The Conversation Continues (on Motema Music) and Köln (on Alternative Side Records) and two other big band jazz scores from albums that were not among the Best Large Jazz Ensemble finalists—Bob Mintzer’s Civil War written for the Bob Mintzer Big Band and Rich DeRosa’s Neil written for the University Of North Texas One O’Clock Lab Band.

It might take Taylor Swift recording an album with John Luther Adams or (an even greater probability) Caroline Shaw recording with Kanye West for the folks in charge of the Grammy Awards to catch up with the breadth of music that people are now listening to and how they are listening to it. Once that happens, hopefully the various categories in which musical achievement are acknowledged by the Recording Academy won’t feel quite as straitjacketed.