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Sunday’s Grammy winners included works featuring RPO, super-producer Bob Ludwig

Jan 26, 2020

Ward Stare conducting the RPO
Credit Roger Mastroianni / CITY Newspaper

The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra with conductor Ward Stare, and Eastman School of Music graduate and sound engineer Bob Ludwig, were a part of the two winners at Sunday’s 62nd Annual Grammy Awards.

Jennifer Higdon’s Harp Concerto, composed by Jennifer Higdon and featuring the classical harpist Yolanda Kondonassis, won for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. The RPO and Stare were featured on the recording. The RPO was one of several orchestras that was commissioned for the harp concerto by Yolanda Kondonassis, an Oklahoma native who is perhaps the most-recorded harpist on the classical scene today. The world premiere of the piece was last year at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, a performance featuring Kondonassis.

Yolanda Kondonassis and Ward Stare had also been nominated for Best Classical Instrumental Solo, but the winner in that category was: Marsalis: Violin Concerto; Fiddle Dance Suite.

Ludwig served as the mastering engineer on The Kronos Quartet’s recording of Terry Riley’s “Sun Rings,” which won for Best Engineered Album, Classical. Sunny Yang, another Eastman grad, is a cellist with the contemporary classical ensemble. In all, the 75-year-old Ludwig had a hand in four Grammy nominations this year, including Best Engineered Album for his work on R&B artist Emily King’s “Scenery.” Ludwig, whose Gateway Mastering Studios is based in Portland, Maine, has worked on an estimated 1,300 albums, including releases by Bruce Springsteen, Led Zeppelin and Paul McCartney.

The wins for “Higdon: Harp Concerto” and “Sun Rings” were announced at a ceremony before the televised Grammy Awards later in the evening at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Paul O’Dette, an Eastman professor and lutist, and a previous Grammy winner, was nominated for Best Opera Recording for his work as conductor with Stephen Stubbs for “Les Arts Florissants; Les Plaisirs de Versailles,” a collection of works by the Baroque-era composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier.

Eastman grad Sean Connors of Third Coast Percussion’s album “Perpetulum” was nominated for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance. The quartet’s Sean Connors has a Bachelor of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music and is pursuing a Doctor of Music degree from the Eastman. Third Coast Percussion is the Ensemble-in-Residence at the University of Notre Dame.

Also, about a hundred supporters of the RPO attended a party on the campus RIT Sunday night to celebrate the Grammy award. RIT President David Munson used the occasion to announce that plans for a Performing Arts Center on the campus were moving forward. He said that RIT has the funding in place for an 850 seat theater and is beginning to fund raise for a larger, 1,500 seat theater. Sunday's celebration was held at RIT’s “Magic Spell” studios.

Jeff Spevak is WXXI’s Arts & Life Editor and Reporter. He can be contacted at jspevak@wxxiorg