Alumnus Compositions Led to 2019 Grammy Nominations

Alumnus Compositions Led to 2019 Grammy Nominations

By UM News

Alumnus Compositions Led to 2019 Grammy Nominations

By UM News
Frost Faculty Lansing McLoskey and Alumnus Kenneth D. Fuchs Compositions Led to 2019 Grammy Nominations

When the Recording Academy released their 2019 Grammy nominations on Friday, December 7, 2018, among the Frost faculty and alumni honored were Lansing McLoskey, esteemed Professor of Composition whose composition Zealot Canticles received a Grammy Nomination for Best Choral Performance and alum Kenneth D. Fuchs (BM ’79) whose Piano Concerto Spiritualist; Poems of Life was nominated for Best Classical Compendium. While the Grammy statue for McLoskey’s work would go the artists of the choral group, The Crossing, and for Fuchs’s to the artist, producer, and engineer, it is often the process behind the scenes and the composition,  that is responsible for the work getting recorded and eventually nominated.

In the case of McLoskey’s Zealot Canticles, the project and collaboration were seven years in the making. It was a monumental undertaking, from conception, fundraising, and research to composing (which took 18 months), rehearsing, performance, more fundraising for the CD production, recording, editing, and final release on Innova Records. Commissioned by The Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, the oratorio is 20 movements and 80 minutes long, scored for SATB choir, soprano, mezzo, and baritone soloists, clarinet, and string quartet. The libretto (composed/constructed by McLoskey) is comprised of writings by Wole Soyinka; Nobel Prize-winning playwright, poet, author, and humanitarian, who spent years imprisoned in Nigeria for speaking out against genocide and human rights violations. 

The reviews for McLoskey’s work speak volumes:

"These verses are unquestionably among the most heart-wrenching and unsettling texts ever used as the basis of a piece of choral music. ... McLoskey's success in setting them in a manner both true to their inherent horror and efficacious in the music's ability to communicate that horror marks the score as a major triumph."
Michael Caruso, Chestnut Hill Independent, 3/30/17

“It is a work of extraordinary beauty, filled with knowing worldliness and inner certainty. Outstanding."                      

Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, 9/27/18

"The world needs this piece..."
David Patrick Stearns, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/20/17

"It would be hard to imagine a better fit for The Crossing than Lansing McLoskey's Zealot Canticles."
Textura, Oct. 2018

In commenting Lansing McLoskey quoted Rebecca Harris, a violinist on the recording whom he feels perfectly captures his own sentiment: "Since the freedom to speak is not a truth universally acknowledged or experienced, even in societies that purport to value it, I want to shamelessly celebrate and honor having it this morning, in the shape of this Grammy nomination. As artists, we have to take our work seriously as a radical act of freedom, and this project is from that heart. An award nomination is about platform, and we all know that there is so much art, so many voices, that are unjustly hidden from view, so I’m choosing to be happy to be heard, and choosing to share this in the spirit of the challenge to all of us to be braver than ever in speech and in art."

Alumni Kenneth Fuchs explains a similar process of a project in the making for over two-and-a-half years. He states: "My understanding of entrepreneurship for composers grew from my undergraduate studies with Alfred Reed, who conceived the original Music Merchandising program at the University of Miami School of Music (what is now the Frost School of Music) in the 1960s. I designed and put together this entire recording project, including hiring the soloists, conductor, London Symphony Orchestra, and Abbey Road Studios; developing the recording schedule with the producer; making travel arrangements and hotel reservations for the artists to travel to London; and writing countless fund-raising letters and proposals to raise $100,000 from individual donors and foundations to make it all happen. The recording would not have been made if I hadn’t quite literally done everything, starting with composing three concerti and a work for countertenor and orchestra. I then worked with my publisher, engravers, and printers to prepare the scores and parts and to ship the music six weeks ahead of time to the LSO library so that the orchestra members had enough time to prepare the music for the sight read-record sessions. That was only the beginning. Once the producer delivered the finished master to Naxos, then came time to write and design the CD booklet and design the publicity and marketing campaign, including editing videos with our videographer and preparing advertising materials with our graphic designer for print and digital media. Once the recording was released globally on physical and digital platforms, then I began with Naxos the campaign for the first round of GRAMMY® balloting, including weeks of cultivating voting members of the Recording Academy, which ultimately led to succeeding with the most coveted nomination in the Classical Field, Best Classical Compendium."


To listen to the entire album, click here.