Hold the gramophone! The 2020 Grammy Award nominees have been announced, and the Capital Region’s own Albany Symphony and Conductor David Alan Miller have been nominated for Best Classical Instrumental Solo and Best Contemporary Classical Composition. Though this isn’t Miller or the Albany Symphony’s first Grammy rodeo—both won in 2014 for John Corigliano’s virtuosic percussion concerto, Conjurer—this does mark the first time that both have received two nominations in a single year.
“It feels great to be nominated,” Miller tells saratoga living. “All the discs we’ve been nominated for feature never-before-recorded works of contemporary music, which is our specialty.” The two pieces that garnered the symphony and its conductor the golden gramophone nominations are Derek Bermel’s Migration Series for Jazz Ensemble (for Best Contemporary Classical Composition) and a bluegrass-infused violin concerto by Michael Torke, entitled Sky (for Best Classical Instrumental Solo). The Albany Symphony had a close hand in creating that latter piece, co-commissioning Sky, as well as premiering and recording it at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. “I’m convinced we’ve been nominated so many times, specifically, because we champion the most compelling music of our time,” says Miller.
Miller, who joined the Albany Symphony in 1992, has garnered a reputation for making bold programming choices, which blend contemporary and experimental compositions with classical music staples, and they’ve helped the orchestra gain the attention of the national classical music scene along the way. In addition to nominations in 2016 and this year, the 2020 Grammys announcement marks Miller’s fourth and fifth nominations and the third and fourth for the orchestra. “What struck me most at my first visit to the [Grammy] awards and continues to impress me is just how big and beautiful the community of music creators in all genres is in our country,” says Miller. “It’s a great honor and source of encouragement to be recognized as a worthy member of that community.”
Miller and the Albany Symphony share their nominations with composers Bermel and Torke and violinist Tessa Lark, who was the soloist featured in Sky.