Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mayan Friday: Shop Like There's No Tomorrow

In my comic music-appreciation thriller, The Doomsday Symphony, the first chapter of the novel's Fourth Movement opens with a philosophic dialogue about the various viewpoints toward the End of Time. However, I'll start this post with the concluding segment of the same chapter which describes in more detail the Mayan Calendar and how it affects what too many people are calling the "Mayan Apocalypse."

The characters involved include Rogers Kent-Clarke, the mild-mannered assistant conductor turned villain who has attempted to steal Mahler's newest symphony, his so-called <i>Doomsday</i> Symphony, a mysterious figure called the Old Man of the Mines and a fellow named Schweinwerfer who was a fictional 19th-Century leader of an apocalyptic cult who is helping Kent-Clarke steal the symphony in the belief that it's performance on Dec. 21, 2012, will initiate the Mayan Protocol. If you want to understand more than that, I'm afraid you'll have to read the earlier 61 chapters...

(By the way, the calendar stone depicted in this cartoon and in my novel's cover photo is actually an Aztec calendar, a system copied from the earlier Mayan system, though its own attitudes about what happens when the calendar reaches the end of its cycle is no more specific - or apocalyptic - than the Mayans.)


*** ***** ******** ***** ***
Chapter 62 
*** ***** ******** ***** ***

Mayans didn’t view Time as a static flow, an unchanging absolute ticking away second by second from the past to the future, but as a cyclical out-pouring of energy that was breathed in and breathed out. Time to them was “relative,” considering the different celestial bodies’ movements they could measure, a fluidity inconceivable to Western science before Albert Einstein. Rather than simply mark the passing of time, their calendar reflected these cosmic cycles, keeping the body in balance with the universe through an energy they called k’ul connecting man to Earth below and Heaven above.

While initially lunar, the Julian Calendar (36 BC), inaccurate according to the solar year, was eventually corrected by the Gregorian Calendar (1582). The origins of the Mayan calendar dated back to the ancient Olmecs (c.1200 BC), based on a complex system of interrelated sub-calendars following both lunar and solar cycles whose separate measurements converge, reflecting larger spans of time.

Each calendar resembled a disc relating to other calendar-discs like a cosmic clock-work mechanism (not that they viewed Time as a machine), one reflecting the center of the galaxy, creating a spiritual calendar of 260 days, while another reflected a solar, secular year of 365 days (360 plus 5 leftovers), taking 52 years to complete a combined cyclic “rotation.”

These five left-over days of each Solar Year comprised an uncertain period marking the end of the old in preparation for the new. However, the end of each 52-year-cycle was a celebration marking a new cycle’s beginning.

According to the Mayans, there are five world ages. In the first, the gods created the earth, its mountains, trees and animals. After creating Man from clay, beginning the second age, they decided to destroy it. The third, recreating Man from wood, also failed and that world they also destroyed, failing to find substantive forms with mind and soul.

“True people,” created out of corn dough, marked the beginning of the fourth age, the union of spirit and soul with matter. The fifth age offers Man harmony and higher consciousness.

There is no sixth age.

The length of these cycles – calculated on the magic numbers 13 and 20 – is reflected in Mayan step-pyramids which, with these calendars, bring their physical and spiritual worlds into universal resonance with heaven, earth and man.

Approaching the end of each cycle, the world requires purification in order to rebuild. Transitions become dangerous, unstable: everything is out of balance.

Aligned with the center of the Milky Way, sunrise on the Winter Solstice, 2012, eclipses what Mayans called “The Womb of Stars,” a black hole they regarded as the home of their supreme god, Hunab K’u. This opens the great “Underworld Road” on which Mayan wizard-kings traveled to other dimensions, gaining sacred knowledge from energy pulsing through the galaxy.

Since the sun and the star cluster, the Pleiades, had already been in conjunction during a solar eclipse on May 20th, 2012, Mayans believed this literally “opens the door” for the return of the god, Kukulkan.

Recently, scientists have discovered the existence of gravity waves, “ripples in the time-space fabric,” possibly created by the collision of black holes. Passing through matter, they create vibrations which may trigger earthquakes and tsunamis on Earth.

Release of such energy will suffuse the earth, raising mankind to a higher level.

Or it could be powerful enough to destroy everything.

Kukulkan’s return – the Aztec’s Quetzalcoatl – will become a significant spiritual event in Mayan mythology, comparable to the Second Coming of the Messiah. Walking among the Mayan people, Kukulkan promised he would return in the “Final Days.” But this return will initiate the higher level of consciousness Man will then attain, Kukulkan having told them, “you will become as gods.”

Pacal, a legendary king living in the 7th Century, ruling for almost seventy years, brought to his people great wisdom and enlightenment. Following his descent into the Underworld, he was then transformed into the sky-god, Votán.


“Like the Norse god in Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung?”

Incredulous, Rogers Kent-Clarke, staring into the semi-darkness, was fascinated by such conjunctions. It was another of those mental leaps that helped turn misconceptions into popular facts.

He and Schweinwerfer, carrying Xaq over his shoulder, had been trudging along behind the Old Man of the Mines, listening to his tales.

“Our current concept of consciousness began with the Greeks,” Schweinwerfer explained, “reaching full flowering during the Renaissance with the discovery of perspective. Following the Industrial Revolution and technology’s advance, the world has fallen into steep decline.”

“Society has become mechanized,” the Old Man picked up, “as art has become alienated by technology.” He noticed Schweinwerfer nodding his agreement. “Ever since, history has been nothing but chaotic manifestations of a crisis of Time.”

“And since the 19th Century,” Schweinwerfer added, “industrialists and financiers have replaced the aristocracy, instead creating a culture based on popularity and commercialism.”

“Does alienation via time and space lead to chaotic and degenerate cultures which, failing to control time, thus create nothing truly timeless?”

This raised questions about the validity of art sponsored by corporations seeking tax write-offs.

“The essence of anything was not in its content but how successfully it resonated: sensing a response was so important to perceiving it. Art perceived on a spiritual or sensual level regardless of technical comprehension can be more valuable than understanding it through detailed analytical study.”

“Comprehension is not imagining figures in the light but through making the darkness conscious.”

“If time is cyclical rather than linear, then matter, space, time and consciousness are interconnected: everything once observed separately becomes thoroughly related. This incredible Dance of Time,” Schweinwerfer said, “permeates every aspect of the Mayan world.”

“For instance,” the Old Man continued, glancing back, “how the Mayans built their step-pyramids: each ascending step reflects the gradual acceleration of Time. It starts with a broad base equaling a hablatun of 1.26 billion years’ duration, topped off with a uinal of twenty days. These proportions in space paralleled the calendars’ reflections of time, creating cycles within cycles.”

“Are we in the Fourth or Fifth Age? Will the cycles continue to continue,” he asked, “or is there no Sixth Age?”

The latter, of course, was Schweinwerfer’s preference, after generations of having advocated “Apocalypse Now!”

He could think of nothing more satisfying than turning over the last page of the calendar only to discover there was nothing there.

*** ***** ******** ***** ***

[In this earlier segment of the same chapter, I include quotations from a number of world religions (or belief systems, if you prefer) and their attitudes toward the End Times. This is presented as a traditional philosophical dialogue between mentor and grasshopper. My favorites ones are from Islam, actually, which also considers a sign of the End Times to be "when women singers and musical instruments become popular" and "when men will wear silk."]

“Behold, for I shall lift the veil and make known unto you that which shall be the end of the great indignation, that the end of Time shall be the vision, but none shall understand it.”

So what use is it, then, if none shall understand it, as you say? What mysteries can we comprehend if they are incomprehensible?

“God speaks in wondrous mysteries to which the wise receive the power of understanding. They interpret them so that others may understand.”

Considering how many claim wisdom, how many of them will interpret these mysteries differently?

“For I have received a vision, blessed of God who showed me a man, yet unlike any man I have ever seen.”

And what was so different about this man that only you could see him?

“His body was of beryl, his face of lightening; his eyes were lamps afire.”

And none who stood with you could see him?

“Not me, unworthy as I am, but one, a prophet, wiser than all others. He spoke of this, thus it was written. Thus have his words been transmitted through the ages henceforth, from generation unto generation.”

And how did this prophet of whom you speak describe when Time shall end? Is there some plan, some warning we should beware?

“He spoke in myriads of symbols that only those enlightened souls could rightly understand. The mystery is not yielded easily to common comprehension.”

And yet, you, it seems, have found a way to decipher these eternal mysteries?

“Yes. There is a God in Heaven that shall in time reveal these secrets, not to astrologers and priests of mighty kings, but to special anointed souls through dreams of what should come to pass hereafter.”

But why not me, who in all my days and dreams has never had such visions and revelations, except after eating spicy food?

“We know in part and prophesy in part. But when perfection has arrived, that which is in part shall be done away.”

Does the attainment of perfection necessarily imply the destruction of the world we know?

“After a thousand years, Satan shall be loosed from his prison to wreak havoc on the nations of the earth’s four corners.”

Are we talking Vikings around 1000 A.D. or Islamic terrorists in the year 2001?

“Gog and Magog join forces for a great battle till Heaven’s fire devours them.”

God wins but the Earth will become collateral damage?

“In an age when intolerable evil and chaos have been loosed upon the world, the Lord shall manifest himself as an avatar, establishing righteousness upon the Earth so people’s minds again become as pure as crystal.”

If the world becomes spiritually degraded and lives are shortened by violence and greed, does not evil’s extent vary from cycle to cycle?

“A cycle of four ages reflects the decline of civilization between periods of timelessness, regenerating the world’s existence in mind and spirit.”

Thus, time is an endless cycle and the pattern of the ages repeat indefinitely?

“Forgotten, the Buddha’s teachings will be replaced by violence, murder, greed and lust, before a new Buddha rediscovers the path to Nirvana.”

If this cycle results in lawlessness, will its destruction lead to another renewed creation?

“His wholesome teachings will disappear in 5,000 years when people no longer heed them.”

Buddha lived around 500 B.C. – we’re only half-way there?

“The final days will come when earthquakes cause the mountains to crash down, when Gog and Magog will be released, killing everything.”

Didn’t these prophets also tell us ‘when female singers and musical instruments become popular’?

“The rich will prosper; the poor, starve; great distances, traversed in brief time spans.”

Didn’t they also say ‘when men will wear silk’?

“The earth is more barren and a dark cloud makes the whole sky night.”

Is climate change a sign of the End?

“The earth shall be covered by vastly deep waters.”

Let us retire to Valhalla.

“Ever since the 19th Century when Thomas Malthus began warning us that greatly increasing populations would lead to widespread famine and catastrophes, fears of mass starvations and widening inequalities between the rich and poor have increased. Social revolution on a global scale and warfare over water-rights may be as inevitable as impending man-made disasters, nuclear war and climate change.”

Will acid rain, greenhouse gases and biological terrorism kill off all life on earth? Will famine lead to the destruction of mankind? Will society act together to benefit all or collapse into individuals intent on survival?

“Even now, computers and telescopes trained on the skies have detected the presence of several spacecraft big as cities heading towards Earth. It is expected they shall arrive in December, 2012, easily conquering our defenseless planet.”

Can our nuclear warheads not be converted in time to wage war in space? Surely, a weak defense would be better than none?

“Y2K, had it occurred, would have initiated a post-millennial, technology-free age for the survivors, after destroying our economy and initiating nuclear destruction. Advances in Artificial Intelligence may work to our disadvantage, creating superhumans seeking our destruction.”

But complacency and obedience should be programmed into the creation of all future robots. Surely, as Y2K didn’t happen, technology will save itself?

“After cyanogen was discovered in the tail of Halley’s Comet, mankind would die from poisonous gasses when Earth passed through it in 1910.”

Haven’t comets been harbingers of Earth’s destruction one way or another since ancient times?

“In the 1500s, Nostradamus wrote that in the 7th month of 1999, a ‘great king of terror will come from the sky.’ Perhaps he was only two years and two months off from September 11th, 2001.”

The fact there are many prophecies and predictions that have not come to pass must surely mean not every one will come true?

“As the dinosaurs were no doubt wiped out by Earth’s collision with an asteroid, another such collision would inevitably destroy all mankind.”

Wouldn’t one passing near enough wreak havoc on our weather patterns and gravitational axis?

“The Mayan Calendar comes to an abrupt halt in 2012, indicating alignment with a black hole that will initiate a profound change.”

Will this mark a deep spiritual transformation or the complete destruction of the universe?

“All this proves is that the world will end. We just don’t know when.”

How can one be prepared when it finally does?

= = = = = = =

- Dick Strawser

The novel, "The Doomsday Symphony," a music appreciation thriller written between 2010 and 2011, is the sole supposedly intellectual property of its author, Richard Alan Strawser.
© 2012

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Elliott Carter: On his 104th Birthday Anniversary

Elliott Carter would have been 104 today.

And while it’s true Beethoven would be 242 coming up on the 16th, Elliott Carter would’ve actually been 104 today if he’d lived a few weeks longer: he died on November 5th, 2012, at the age of 103, just five weeks and a day before his birthday. 

Over the years, I have collected numerous scores and recording of Carter’s music and have often thought about getting a copy of David Schiff’s “The Music of Elliott Carter” which everybody points to as “the” book about Carter’s music. The price aside, the main reason I kept putting it off was the fact it was written around the time Carter was turning 70: it seemed a reasonable time for a retrospective, I guess, especially one written by a composer who had studied with him at the time. Who knew he would live another three decades? So I guess I’ve been waiting for an updated version that would include the 40 pieces he wrote between the ages of 90 and 100, and then “over 14 more” composed since he turned 100.

When a composer dies young, we wonder about the possibilities of what has been left unwritten. Yet even at 103, Elliott Carter was still composing and had plans for other new works. Given the productivity of this “Post-Late Period,” I wonder what else we might have had from him?

His last completed work is a set of 12 Short Epigrams for Piano, finished on August 13th, 2012.

While browsing on-line for other books, scores or recordings of Carter’s music, I found a used copy of David Schiff’s book available through Better World Books in Indiana (Mishawaka and Goshen) and it arrived yesterday: I felt like a kid opening a present on Christmas Eve, the book about Elliott Carter arriving on the day before his birthday – or now, officially, his birthday anniversary…

The book, mostly written around the time Carter was turning 70, begins with a brief survey of his life (till then) – including many anecdotes or observations not found in the traditional “and-then-I-wrote” biographical summary.

For instance, this has to go down in the annals of music appreciation anecdotes about unsupportive parents, along with Handel not being allowed contact with musical instruments as a child because his disapproving father didn’t want to distract him from his application to more practical studies in law (but the boy smuggled a small keyboard instrument, probably a clavidchord, into the house’s attic where he would go practice once others in the house had gone to sleep and thus taught himself how to play).

In Carter’s case, his father and grandfather had been lace importers in New York City and he was being groomed at an early age for the international trade, learning to speak French before he could read English. There was little interest in music in the family but Carter, as a student, discovered modern music and preferred it over the standard classics of Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms. As Schiff describes it, the “family’s yearly business trips to Europe allowed him to purchase new scores unavailable in New York” (we’re talking 1920s, here) “ – his favorite composers were Scriabin and Stravinsky.”

It is a well-known story that hearing Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring made him want to become a composer – he heard the New York premiere and, in several live interviews given around his 100th birthday, often told the story one of the things he liked about it was it was strong enough to literally drive people out of the hall: if he could write music that was that powerful, he would be happy. In a sense, Carter’s music has maybe not driven people out of the hall in the droves that the Rite of Spring did, then, but he has never been an easy composer to “like,” for a vast majority of listeners.

But Carter’s parents were not keen on the idea of his becoming a composer.

“[W]hen he bought a piano roll of Stravinsky’s ballet [in the days before recordings were available], his parents sold their player piano, and familial warfare was declared.”

That is only the beginning, apparently.

Though he studied and performed new music with Clifton Furness, a teacher of his at the Horace Mann School which he attended between 1920-1926 (he was 11-17), it was his decision to study in Paris that finally brought down the big familial guns: his father immediately cut his annual allowance down to $500 a year. “The punishment involved sacrifice if not squalor – Carter says his teeth never recovered from those years of neglect. The family, whose fortunes do not seem to have suffered in the Depression, further reduced Carter’s allowance after his return to the States in 1935” (in his mid-20s).

This, however, is the ultimate parental non-supportive slap:

“Friends of the composer say that his parents never attended concerts of his music. His father died in 1955” (the year he completed his Variations for Orchestra, his first major work after the ground-breaking 1st String Quartet); “his mother died in 1970” (the year before his 3rd String Quartet, certainly one of his most complex pieces).

No doubt, holiday dinners with the Carters must have been very chilly.

One thing Schiff mentions in this opening chapter made me think:

= = = = = = =
“When a composer grows up in a cultured musical family he tends to be conservative. The family presents him with the classics of music, takes him to concerts, gives him the best of teachers, prepares him to enter the musical establishment. The young composer is rewarded for imitating the classics, an activity which is often confused with composition. When the family lacks musical culture, however, a young composer can develop without the prejudices of the past. Particularly in American society, where the past is apparently so unimportant and history scarcely seems to exist, it is far more natural for a young composer to be attracted to the latest thing. And if the latest thing offends the parents, so much the better.”
(The Music of Elliott Carter by David Schiff, 1st Edition, p.14)
= = = = = = =

That composers like Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert or Wagner began their lives in artistically aware families (Wagner’s step-father was an actor and his early background is primarily theatrical), that didn’t stop them from going beyond the musical status quo later in their careers. Certainly, Mendelssohn, who grew up in the lap of luxury, by comparison to most famous composers, never really became a ground-breaking avant-garde composer, but I had always assumed Elliott Carter, the son of a wealthy businessman with a considerable financial fortune, had been a kind of modern-day Mendelssohn, in terms of family wealth and, perhaps, support.

Not so!

And rather shockingly not so! at that. It amazes me even more that a young boy could continue under such lack of support – in fact, downright “warfare” – from his parents. This goes a long way to explain why Carter was adamant about being his own composer and not caring whether people liked his music or not, as that famous quote I mentioned in a recent post, which refers to a rather epiphanic moment from the 1940s:

“As a young man, I harbored the populist idea of writing for the public. I learned that the public didn’t care. So I decided to write for myself. Since then, people have gotten interested.”

This is not the arrogant “Who Cares if You Listen?” attitude (the unfortunate title some copywriter gave a newspaper article by fellow composer Milton Babbitt) thrown at so many modern artists who appear to deny pleasure to the general audience (the same could be said of Beethoven and his late quartets). It is a more practical realization that, in order to write music that is true to the artist’s creative intent, it needs first to interest the artist.

*** ***** ******** ***** ***

As used books go, my ‘new’ copy of David Schiff’s book looked brand new: it was a library copy withdrawn from the Unger Memorial Library in Plainview, Texas, and judging from the looks of it had probably never been signed out.

It is a first edition, published in 1983 by Eulenburg Press, and basically ends with the “Night Fantasies” composed in 1980. An updated second edition came out in 1998 in time for his 90th birthday.

Some of my favorite works by Carter have been composed since that first edition: 

String Quartet No. 4 (1986)
Oboe Concerto (1986-1987)
Three Occasions for Orchestra (1986-1989)
Violin Concerto (1989)
Quintet for Piano & Winds (1991)
String Quartet No. 5 (1995)
Clarinet Concerto (1996)
Symphonia: Sum fluxae pretium spei (1993-1996) (originally issued as three separate works as each movement was completed)
Piano Quintet (1997)
What Next? opera (1997)

These, then, are just some of the works he composed after his 90th birthday and therefore were probably not included in Schiff's second edition:

Two Diversions (for piano) (1999)
ASKO Concerto for 16 players (2000)
Retrouvailles (for piano) (2000)
Cello Concerto (2001)
Oboe Quartet (2001)
Boston Concerto (2002)
Dialogues for Piano & Orchestra (2003)
Mosaic (for Harp & Ensemble) (2004)
Two Thoughts about the Piano (2005-2006), especially Catenaires
Clarinet Quintet (2007) (I'd heard the world premiere of this)
Horn Concerto (2007)

And several recent works that I’ve not heard yet or been able to get recordings of:

Interventions (for Piano & Orchestra) (2007)
Flute Concerto (2008)
Nine by Five (Wind Quintet) (2009)
“What Are Years” for Soprano & Chamber Orchestra (2009)
“A Sunbeam’s Architecture” for Tenor and Chamber Orchestra (2010)
Two Controversies and a Conversation for Piano, Percussion & Chamber Ensemble (2010-2011)
Three Explorations for Bass-Baritone, Winds & Brass (2011)
String Trio (2011)
Double Trio (for Trumpet, Trombone, Percussion, Piano, Violin & Cello) (2011)
Instances (for Chamber Orchestra) (2012)
and of course, the last piece he completed,
12 Short Epigrams (for piano) (Aug. 13th, 2012)

*** ***** ******** ***** ***

As I get ready to reconnect with my composing side (even before I finish the novel, The Lost Chord), I am continuing to sketch out some ideas for a piano quintet which, I suspect, I will dedicate to Elliott Carter’s memory.

I only talked to the man once, as I’ve told the story before, standing on-line for tickets to an all-Carter concert with all three of his string quartets back when he was turning 70. He was very approachable and talked easily and with interest in who I was and when I said I had taught at the University of Connecticut, he said "Then you must know Charles Whittenberg [a composer who also taught there]. He's a very fine composer!" (when I told Charlie that, he was floating on air for a week).

Yet I never had the courage to go up and say hello (not that he would remember me) when I saw him at that concert when the Pacifica Quartet played all five of his string quartets. He was, at the time, two months shy of turning 100 and his assistant, Virgil Blackwell, had escorted Carter into the lobby and sat him down on a bench while he went to pick up the tickets.

There was an immediate hush from everybody around me and when I turned around, I was only a few yards from Elliott Carter, my favorite living composer, soon to be 100! And yet I couldn’t go up and say hello or congratulate him.

Nor could anyone else.

We all stood around in respectful but silent admiration, literally gazing upon him as he sat there, unaware of those around us, unconcerned about being the composer he was in our eyes.

And then Virgil came back, helped Carter up and led him into the hall. He could have been any frail old man coming out to hear a concert.

I feel sad that he is gone, even though he lived to be almost 104. I mean, how amazing is that? And that he wrote all this music since he’d turned 70? But I still wish there had been more time for more music – no 6th Quartet, apparently, alas – but after reading those paragraphs in Schiff’s book about Carter and his parents, what better revenge, if you wanted to think of it that way, to have lived that long and produced that much music, to be regarded as one of the most important living composers of your time?

Like Beethoven’s deafness or Schubert’s health, I wonder how different Carter’s music might have been if his parents had supported him? Perhaps he would be more popular, perhaps he would already have been forgotten.

It is what it is and we have what we have.

And I, for one, am glad at least of that much.

- Dick Strawser

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The Classical Grammys - 2013 Nominees

It’s time for that annual event of pop music’s commercial recognition, the “Countdown to Music’s Biggest Night,” the Grammy Awards! This year’s nominees were announced tonight and waaaaay down at the bottom, you might notice there are even some nominations in the classical music categories! Since they won’t have been mentioned much on the one-hour TV special and probably won’t be given much notice in the press and on-line coverage, otherwise, here’s the list of Classical Nominees for the Grammy Awards which will be announced on Feb. 10th, 2013.

72. Best Orchestral Performance

Adams: Harmonielehre & Short Ride In A Fast Machine
Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor (San Francisco Symphony)
[SFS Media]

Mahler: Symphony No. 1
Iván Fischer, conductor (Budapest Festival Orchestra)
[Channel Classics]

Music For A Time Of War
Carlos Kalmar, conductor (Oregon Symphony)
[PentaTone Classics]

Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances
Valery Gergiev, conductor (London Symphony Orchestra)
[LSO Live]

Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 5
Osmo Vänskä, conductor (Minnesota Orchestra)

73. Best Opera Recording

Berg: Lulu
Michael Boder, conductor; Paul Groves, Ashley Holland, Julia Juon & Patricia Petibon; Johannes Müller, producer (Symphony Orchestra Of The Gran Teatre Del Liceu)
[Deutsche Grammophon]

Handel: Agrippina
René Jacobs, conductor; Marcos Fink, Sunhae Im, Bejun Mehta, Alexandrina Pendatchanska & Jennifer Rivera (Akademie Für Alte Musik Berlin)
[Harmonia Mundi]

Stravinsky: The Rake's Progress
Vladimir Jurowski, conductor; Topi Lehtipuu, Miah Persson & Matthew Rose; Johannes Müller, producer (London Philharmonic Orchestra; Glyndebourne Chorus)
[Opus Arte]

Vivaldi: Teuzzone
Jordi Savall, conductor; Delphine Galou, Paolo Lopez, Roberta Mameli, Raffaella Milanesi & Furio Zanasi (Le Concert Des Nations)
[Naïve Classique]

Wagner: Der Ring Des Nibelungen
James Levine & Fabio Luisi, conductors; Hans-Peter König, Jay Hunter Morris, Bryn Terfel & Deborah Voigt; Jay David Saks, producer (The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; The Metropolitan Opera Chorus)
[Deutsche Grammophon]

74. Best Choral Performance

Handel: Israel In Egypt
Julian Wachner, conductor (Trinity Baroque Orchestra; Trinity Choir Wall Street)
[Musica Omnia]

Life & Breath - Choral Works By René Clausen
Charles Bruffy, conductor (Matthew Gladden, Lindsey Lang, Rebecca Lloyd, Sarah Tannehill & Pamela Williamson; Kansas City Chorale)

Ligeti: Requiem; Apparitions; San Francisco Polyphony
Peter Eötvös, conductor (Barbara Hannigan & Susan Parry; WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln; SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart & WDR Rundfunkchor Köln)

The Nightingale
Stephen Layton, conductor (Michala Petri; Danish National Vocal Ensemble)
[OUR Recordings]

Striggio: Mass For 40 & 60 Voices
Hervé Niquet, conductor (Le Concert Spirituel)

75. Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance

Modern Mandolin Quartet
[Sono Luminus]

Eighth Blackbird
[Cedille Records]

Mind Meld
[Sono Luminus]

Profanes et Sacrées
Boston Symphony Chamber Players
[BSO Classics]

Los Angeles Percussion Quartet
[Sono Luminus]

76. Best Classical Instrumental Solo

Bach: Das Wohltemperierte Clavier
András Schiff
[ECM New Series]

The Complete Harpsichord Works Of Rameau
Jory Vinikour
[Sono Luminus]

Gál & Elgar: Cello Concertos
Claudio Cruz, conductor; Antonio Meneses (Northern Sinfonia)
[AVIE Records]

Holst: The Planets
Hansjörg Albrecht, organ
[Oehms Classics]

Kurtág & Ligeti: Music For Viola
Kim Kashkashian
[ECM New Series]

 77. Best Classical Vocal Solo

Debussy: Clair de Lune
Natalie Dessay (Henri Chalet; Philippe Cassard, Karine Deshayes & Catherine Michel; Le Jeune Coeur De Paris)
[Virgin Classics]

Homecoming - Kansas City Symphony Presents Joyce DiDonato
Joyce DiDonato (Michael Stern; Kansas City Symphony)
[Kansas City Symphony]

Paris Days, Berlin Nights
Ute Lemper (Stefan Malzew & Vogler Quartet)
[Steinway & Sons]

Renée Fleming (Alan Gilbert & Seiji Ozawa; Orchestre National De France & Orchestre Philharmonique De Radio France)
[Decca Records]

Sogno Barocco
Anne Sofie Von Otter (Leonardo García Alarcón; Sandrine Piau & Susanna Sundberg; Ensemble Cappella Mediterranea)
[Naïve Classique]

78. Best Classical Compendium

Partch: Bitter Music
Partch, ensemble; John Schneider, producer
[Bridge Records, Inc.]

Penderecki: Fonogrammi; Horn Concerto; Partita; The Awakening Of Jacob; Anaklasis
Antoni Wit, conductor; Aleksandra Nagórko & Andrzej Sasin, producers

Une Fête Baroque
Emmanuelle Haïm, conductor; Daniel Zalay, producer
[Virgin Classics]

79. Best Contemporary Classical Composition

Hartke, Stephen: Meanwhile - Incidental Music To Imaginary Puppet Plays
Stephen Hartke, composer (Eighth Blackbird)
Track from: Meanwhile
[Cedille Records]

León, Tania: Inura For Voices, Strings & Percussion
Tania León, composer (Tania León, Son Sonora Voices, DanceBrazil Percussion & Son Sonora Ensemble)
Track from: In Motion
[Albany Records]

Praulins, Ugis: The Nightingale
Ugis Praulins, composer (Stephen Layton, Michala Petri & Danish National Vocal Ensemble)
Track from: The Nightingale
[OUR Recordings]

Rautavaara, Einojuhani: Cello Concerto No. 2 'Towards The Horizon'
Einojuhani Rautavaara, composer (Truls Mørk, John Storgårds & Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra)
Track from: Rautavaara: Modificata; Percussion Concerto 'Incantations'; Cello Concerto No. 2 'Towards The Horizon'

Stucky, Steven: August 4, 1964
Steven Stucky, composer; Gene Scheer, librettist (Jaap Van Zweden, Dallas Symphony Chorus & Orchestra)
[DSO Live]

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Congratulations to all the nominees! And break various legs in February!
- Dick Strawser