Bso, Local Children's Band Milkshake Are Grammy Nominees

December 04, 2009|By Tim Smith and Sam Sessa | Tim Smith and Sam Sessa , tim.smith@baltsun.com , sam.sessa@baltsun.com

Baltimore artists registered significantly on the list of 2010 Grammy Award nominations announced Wednesday night.

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's recording of Leonard Bernstein's epic, controversial music-theater piece "Mass" is up for Best Classical Album. And Milkshake, the Baltimore-based children's band, is among the nominees for Best Musical Album for Children.

"I'm thrilled," BSO music director Marin Alsop said Wednesday from London. "Everyone involved did such a great job, from top to bottom, in terms of the commitment level, the quality of performance, quality of production and quality of recording."

The BSO won Grammys in 1987 and 1994 for discs conducted by David Zinman and featuring cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Its most recent Grammy nomination was for a Zinman-led recording with violinist Hilary Hahn in 1999. The orchestra was effectively out of the recording business from that year until Alsop took the helm in 2007. Since then, she has led the orchestra in three well-received recordings.

Bernstein's "Mass," released on the Naxos label, has been widely praised for its expressive power and stylistic panache. The role of the celebrant is performed by Jubilant Sykes; the Morgan State University Choir and Peabody's Children Chorus are among the other participants.

Best Classical Album nominees include recordings by the San Francisco Symphony (conductor Michael Tilson Thomas), Boston Symphony Orchestra (conductor James Levine), and the Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre (conductor Valery Gergiev).

"It's great competition," Alsop said. "I respect those conductors and orchestras so much, but it would be a great time for the 'Mass' to get its due and be recognized for the great work it is."

Alsop also conducted Jennifer Higdon's Percussion Concerto on a London Philharmonic recording that has been nominated for Best Classical Contemporary Composition.

"Great Day," released in August, is Milkshake's fourth album, one targeted to tweens and toddlers alike. Other nominees in the category include albums by Ziggy Marley, Jonathan Sprout and Buck Howdy.

Milkshake's lead singer, Lisa Mathews, called the group's Grammy nomination "refreshingly unexpected. It just feels good that our peers think we're worth at least a nomination," she said.

Mathews fronts the six-piece band, which includes acoustic guitarist Mikel Gehl, bassist Cord Neal, drummer Tom Moon, electric guitarist Michael Sheppard and accordionist and keyboardist Brian Simms.

"It's a dream of theirs to go to the Grammys," Mathews said. "It's going to be good to walk the red carpet. They should be proud, and I know they are. They're gushing about it."

The Baltimore-Grammy connection started last month when the 2009 Latin Grammy Awards were announced. A recording of Gabriela Lena Frank's "Inca Dances," commissioned by the Baltimore Classical Guitar Society and performed by Baltimore-based guitarist Manuel Barrueco with Cuarteto Latinoamericano, won for Best Classical Contemporary Composition.

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