Yale Daily News

On Sunday, four Yale School of Music alumni left the MGM Grand Garden Arena with Grammy awards to their name.  

The 64th Annual Grammy Awards, held on April 3, announced its winners across 86 categories after nominations were revealed in November 2021. A total of 23 Yale alums, students and faculty members were nominated in predominantly classical music categories. 

“We are proud of the many accomplishments of our alumni and celebrate with all of those who received Grammy Awards and nominations this year,” said Katherine Darr, director of Development and Alumni Affairs for the Yale School of Music. “Yale School of Music alumni positively impact their communities all over the world and we congratulate them on their many successes.” 

Yale School of Music alumni won awards in the categories of “Best Contemporary Classical Composition,” “Best Orchestral Performance,” “Best Choral Performance” and “Best Country Album.” 

Caroline Shaw MUS ’07 walked away with the award for “Best Contemporary Classical Composition,” for her album titled “Narrow Sea.” Sō Percussion, a group of four YSM alumni performers, was featured on the recording alongside vocalist Dawn Upshaw and pianist Gilbert Kalish. 

“[Shaw is] always so authentically curious to find new things, and she brings a really wonderful spirit of collaboration to the composition process,” said Sō Percussion member Eric Cha-Beach MUS ’07. “When she was writing Narrow Sea, we would do things like spend a whole day just exploring sounds inside the piano or listening to every flower pot and ceramic bowl that Sō Percussion owns.” 

Vocalist Mindy Ella Chu MUS ’15 was recognized in the category of “Best Choral Performance” for her work recording Mahler’s “Symphony of a Thousand” with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Chu said that the win reminded her of pre-COVID-19 performances where members of the symphony recall “having tears welling-up in the corner of [their] eyes reflecting on the grandiosity of so many forces coming together to create such beautiful music.” 

Among the nominated performances and albums, several featured not one but multiple Yale School of Music alumni as collaborators. Notable among such nominations is the album Seven Pillars, composed by Andy Akiho MUS ’11 and performed by Sandbox Percussion — a group featuring four YSM alumni. The album was nominated for “Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance” and “Best Contemporary Classical Composition.” 

According to Sandbox Percussion member Victor Cácese MUS ’13, “Seven Pillars by Andy Akiho is not only a massive contribution to the percussion repertoire, but to music in this century.” 

Cácese’s groupmate in Sandbox, Ian Rosenbaum MUS ’11, added that “this nomination means a lot to us as an organization, and on a personal note, we were thrilled to help represent the contemporary music world in the Chamber Music category alongside some other groups that have inspired us for years.”  

Sandbox Percussion was formed at the Yale School of Music, where all four members also met and befriended Akiho. 

David Skidmore MUS ’08 received a nomination for “Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance” as a member of the group “Third Coast Percussion.” The nominated recording “Archetypes” was also up for prizes in three distinct categories. 

“We are thrilled to have been nominated … with our friends and colleagues, and with musicians we have looked up to for years,” Skidmore said. “It was a joy to spend the day celebrating music in Vegas.” 

Alumni were not the only YSM affiliates representing the school on Sunday night. Faculty violinist Augustin Hadelich was nominated for “Best Classical Instrumental Solo Category” for his recording of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas produced in the summer of 2020. Hadelich said that “in a time that could have felt hopeless and demoralizing, Bach’s music was uplifting and inspiring.” 

One current YSM student, Deborah Stephens MUS ’22, was nominated for “Best Choral Performance” for her work recording with the Skylark Vocal Ensemble. Stephens said: “I’ve been committed to growing as a vocalist and musician ever since I was 5 years old, so I also feel a great amount of validation. If I can be a part of a Grammy nomination at 24, then the sky is most certainly not even the limit for the future.”

The range and extent of YSM various affiliates’ talent were on high display at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards.

A full list of YSM nominees and winners can be found on the school’s website

INES CHOMNALEZ