Once again, multiple Kansas City area voices are represented on the long list of Grammy Award nominations.
By STEVE PAUL
The Kansas City Star
The nominees announced Wednesday night include the Kansas City Symphony in performance with Joyce DiDonato; the Kansas City Chorale, which with every recording seems to have a lock on a Grammy nomination; jazz guitarist Pat Metheny, who hails (proudly) from Lee’s Summit and is a perennial nominee and frequent winner; and pop-soul singer Janelle Monae, a native of Kansas City, Kan.
Locals also claim fame by association in a classical music nomination for the chamber music ensemble Eighth Blackbird, which has been in residence this year at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and played in concert this season with the symphony.
Metheny’s Unity Band and its eponymous CD is among the nominees for best jazz instrumental album. His competitors include pianist Ahmad Jamal, saxophonist Kenny Garrett and pianist Chick Corea, who is nominated for two projects, one with vibraphonist Gary Burton, the other with bassist Eddie Gomez and the late drummer Paul Motian.
Monae landed a supporting spot in Fun’s “We Are Young,” which is a nominee for best pop duo or group performance.
Director Charles Bruffy and the Kansas City Chorale hauled in three nominations for their most recent recording project, “Life & Breath — Choral Works by René Clausen.” Most significant is its nomination for best choral performance. The disc was released on the Chandos label and also includes soloists Matthew Gladden, Lindsey Lang, Rebecca Lloyd, Sarah Tannehill and Pamela Williamson.
The disc includes a wide range of material, including the first recording of Clausen’s “Mass for Double Choir,” which he wrote for the chorale, and a setting of William Blake’s “The Tyger.”
The Star’s classical music columnist, Patrick Neas, last summer called it “sumptuous” and “yet another testament to why the Kansas City Chorale is one of the finest choral ensembles in the world.”
“Life & Breath” also is a nominee for best engineered classical album. (Neas called the surround-sound recording “an ecstatic experience.”) And it’s one of two Bruffy-led recording projects on the list of nominated producer of the year Blanton Alspaugh, joining “Gjeilo: Northern Lights” by Bruffy and the Phoenix Chorale. The Kansas City Chorale delivered selections from that disc in a recent concert.
DiDonato, a radiant mezzo-soprano from Prairie Village, is a nominee for best vocal classical performance for “Homecoming — The Kansas City Symphony Presents Joyce DiDonato.” The project, which turned into a public television special and an audio recording, preserves the singer’s appearance with the symphony last March. She sang Joan of Arc, Rossini’s “Giovanna d’Arco” cantata; a contemporary song cycle by composer Jake Heggie, “The Deepest Desire: Four Meditations on Love,” based on the writings of Sister Helen Prejean; and an emotional, hometown-girl encore, “Over the Rainbow.”
DiDonato goes up against a formidable lineup of fellow singers — Natalie Dessay, Ute Lemper, Anne Sofie Von Otter and Renée Fleming.
The Grammy winners will be announced Feb. 10.
To reach Steve Paul, senior writer and arts editor, call 816-234-4762 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @sbpaul.