The Eastman School of Music community received an unprecedented total of 15 Grammy nominations this past December. The Grammy Awards are an annual presentation by the Recording Academy to honor excellence in the music industry. Singers, songwriters, composers, albums and songs are among the categories recognized throughout the course of the evening.

The achievement was the result of the work of many members of the Eastman community, from professors to graduate and post-graduate students. The awards ceremony will feature nominees in a variety of categories, ranging from jazz ensembles to classical arrangements to opera vocalists.

Eastman Professor of Conducting and Ensemble Director Paul O’Dette, who was among the nominees, was thrilled to receive the news.

“It’s a great honor,” O’Dette said. “The competition is so stiff. I don’t expect to win, but it could happen.”

In addition to a previous Grammy award in 1996, O’Dette has been nominated by the Grammy committee for conducting Conradi’s Ariadne. He is also director of the Boston Early Music Festival – the group through which he first discovered and arranged Ariadne.

“It’s a very attractive piece of music on many levels,” said O’Dette as he spoke about why he thought the piece was selected by the Grammy committee. “The performance was very strong. The piece is completely unknown.”

He argued that the Grammy committee was known for giving awards to strong performances of obscure classical works, thus giving him and his team hope that they might win. A victory in any of their nominated categories would be wonderful for the Eastman and Rochester community as a whole.

Indeed, to simply be mentioned among Grammy nominees is a great honor for any musician or institution like Eastman. For a school to have received that honor 15 times in a single year, however, is highly improbable.

“If anything, this is an indication of an extremely high quality of musicianship found here at Eastman,” O’Dette said. “The possibility of putting this piece together is a tribute to the resources and facilities available at Eastman.”

Also among the nominees is Eastman’s Ying Quartet, who have been nominated for Best Classical Crossover Album for their recording of “4 + Four” in collaboration with the Turtle Island String Quartet. “Our collaboration and friendship with the Turtle Island String Quartet has brought us much personal pleasure and musical satisfaction,” said David Ying, a Cellist for the Ying Quartet. Continuing, he said, “To now have ‘4 + Four’ recognized in this way feels like the icing on an already tasty cake.”

Bill Cunliffe ’81 is nominated for Best Instrumental Arrangement for “Do It Again,” a piece from his album Imaginacin. Nominated for Best Instrumental Composition is Maria Schneider ’85 for the piece “Journey Home,” featured on Dana Landry’s album – which happens to have the same name. Last year, Schneider received a Grammy for Best Large Jazz Ensemble for her album Concert in the Garden. Featured in the same category this year is John Hollenbeck ’91 for his album A Blessing.

Nominated for Best Small Ensemble Performance is Courtney Bress ’97 for “Ancient Voices of Children,” a track featured on Complete Crumb Edition, Volume Nine. The same category also features Joe Chappel ’94 and Oliver Brewer ’00, members of The Tiffany Consort, which is nominated for “O Magnum Mysterium.”

The 48th annual Grammy Awards Ceremony will take place in Los Angeles on February 8th, 2006 at the Staples Center and will be broadcasted live on CBS from 8:00 to 11:30 p.m.

The Eastman community is already euphoric with the news of the nominations. Needless to say, the coming month of February will prove to be a thrilling celebration of the success and potential of Eastman’s faculty and student body. Nominations like these only continue to recognize and praise the Eastman School.

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