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The 2015 GRAMMY® Awards

The 57th GRAMMY® awards were held on February 8th, 2015, 2015, and I had the distinct pleasure of attending. Behind the glitz and glamour of the broadcast you see on television is an incredibly well-run organization staffed and served by industry professionals who care deeply about music and its impact on the world. The organization behind the GRAMMY® Awards is the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), otherwise known as The Recording Academy®. While the GRAMMY® Awards is hailed as Music's Biggest Night®, it is also the organization's biggest fundraiser for its non-profit activities of educational and charitable causes. Its mission is "to positively impact the lives of musicians, industry members and our society at large."1

Known throughout the world as America's most prestigious music award, the first GRAMMY® Awards was held in 1959 to recognize outstanding achievements in the music industry. It is the only true peer-determined honor awarded by and to artists and technical professionals for excellence in artistic achievement and technical proficiency, without regard to album sales or chart positions.

Unbeknownst to many, Classical Music is the largest field of the GRAMMYs. Categories particular to classical music honor not just performers, but also genre-specific engineers, producers, ensembles and composers. There are currently thirty fields representing various genres (classical, pop, gospel, etc.) and eighty-three categories within those fields. Some fields have only one category, whereas Classical has ten.

This year's keyboard-playing nominees included the incomparable pianist Leon Fleisher with his album, All The Things You Are (Bridge Records, Inc.), piano virtuoso Daniil Trifonov in The Carnegie Recital (Deutsche Grammophon) and brilliant harpsichordist Jory Vinikour for his Toccatas (Sono Luminus). Nods for collaborative piano work were given to Cory Smythe (In 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores), Olli Mustonen (Martinu: Cello Sonatas 1-3/Steven Isserlis), Daniil Trifonov (Mieczyslaw Weinberg/Gidon Kremer), Bengt Forsberg (Douce France/Anne Sofie Von Otter) and Malcolm Martineau (Schubert: Die schöne Müllerin/Florian Boesch).

Announcements of GRAMMY® Award winners for all but about a couple handfuls of categories are held at the GRAMMY® Premier Celebration (pre-telecast). This is typically held in the afternoon just prior to that evening's live television broadcast program, where announcement of the final award winners are intermixed with musical performance mash ups and tribute highlights.

Generally, the awards process is fairly straightforward. It starts from an entries phase where recording labels and established membership may submit recordings for screening. After eligibility and categorizations are verified, the voting begins. There are various checks and reviews that happen along the way for quality control. Certain specialized craft categories are limited to expert judgment in that particular field and not initially open to the general voting membership. The top five vote getters are deemed nominees. A final ballot by the Academy voting membership determines the winner. The results are tallied by an outside organization and kept secret until that envelope is opened at the official announcement of the Awards.

GRAMMY® nominees, winners, and invitees have opportunities to walk the red carpet. Media outlets across the globe gather at this secure location and learn the latest design trends of who Katy Perry is wearing and you find out how tall Prince really is.

While the GRAMMY® Awards are most visible, The Recording Academy® activities encompass a wide range of activities devoted to philanthropy and advocacy. The GRAMMY® Foundation cultivates programs to understand, appreciate, and advance the contributions of recordings and future generations of music professionals. The MusiCares® Foundation of the Academy assists music people in crisis and through health and human services across the nation. Protection of rights and advancement of music creators' policy interests are engaged
through arts advocacy, education, initiatives, and outreach. Additional opportunities for students are available through summer camps covering a variety of subjects in the music industry.

Although a seemingly fairy-tale occurrence, the GRAMMY® is very real and touches the lives of real people. Whether as an artist, teacher, student, behind-the-scenes music-maker, advocate, or aficionado, there are many ways to engage and be involved beyond the broadcast. Through music and the Academy, you, too, can make a difference to positively impact lives, the industry, and society.

Classical winners of this year's 57th
GRAMMY® Awards included:

Best Chamber Music (Small Ensemble):
In 27 Pieces – Hilary Hahn & Cory Smythe
Best Choral Music Performance:
Sacred Spirit of Russia – Conspirare
Best Classical Compendium:
Plectra & Percussion Dances – Harry Partch
Best Classical Instrumental Solo:
Play – Jason Vieaux
Best Classical Solo Vocal Album:
Douce France – Anne Sofie von Otter
Best Contemporary Classical Composition:
Become Ocean – John Luther Adams
Best Engineered Recording:
Michael Bishop (Atlanta Symphony: Vaughan Williams)
Best Opera Recording:
La Descente d'Orphée aux Enfers (Boston Early Music Festival)
Best Orchestral Performance:
City Noir (St. Louis Symphony)
Lifetime Achievement:
Pierre Boulez
Producer of the Year:
Judith Sherman

Angelin Chang is America's first female classical pianist to win the GRAMMY® Award (Best Instrumental Soloist with Orchestra). She has since served The Recording Academy® as Vice-President, Board of Governors, and Chair of the Education Committee and the Classical Task Force for the Chicago Chapter. Dr. Chang is Coordinator of Keyboard Studies and Professor of Music and Law at Cleveland State University.

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