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Kansas City Gets The Grammys Nod

The 2013 Grammy nominations are out - and two nominees are based in Kansas City.

The Kansas City Chorale's recording of "Life & Breath: Choral Works by René Clausen"was nominated for three Grammys, including Best Choral Performance and Best Engineered Album, Classical. Producer Blanton Alspaugh was also nominated for Producer of the Year, Classical for his work on seven albums, including the Kansas City Chorale's "Life & Breath" (and "Gjello: Northern Lights" (Charles Bruffy & Phoenix Chorale)).

Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato was nominated in the Best Classical Vocal Solo category for "Homecoming - Kansas City Symphony Presents Joyce DiDonato." This program was part of a PBS Arts Summer Festival, and marked a collaboration between PBS and KCPT. The audio recording received the nomination.


"This woman is a singer down to her bones"

Joyce DiDonato grew up in Prairie Village, Kan., and performs around the world with opera companies and orchestras; she's based in Kansas City, Mo. On NPR's "Deceptive Cadence" blog, Anastasia Tsioulcas wrote this of DiDonato's most recent recording "Drama Queens":

"DiDonato's singing is sublime. This woman is a singer down to her bones. She is totally secure at all points of her register — gleaming at the top, rich and grounded at the bottom — with heartfelt lyricism and a musicality that can't be faked."

In March 2012, DiDonato appeared on Up to Datebefore her debut at the Kauffman Center with music director Michael Stern and the Kansas City Symphony. She told host Steve Kraske what it was like to win herfirst Grammy(Best Classical Vocal Solo in 2012 for "Diva Divo"):

"It's one of these earthquake moments. Your life sort of flashes before your eyes," DiDonato said. "And in my case, I was sort of thinking of this rush of how I ended up standing on that stage in that moment...It goes back to every day of my life and everyone who has helped me along the way."

Repeat Grammy-winners

In 2011, the Kansas City Symphony won a Grammy for the Best Surround Sound Album for "Britten's Orchestra." David Frost, who produced the album, won for Producer of the Year, Classical.

Baritone Daniel Belcher of Liberty, Mo. was also recognized in 2011; he played the leading role of Jaufré Rudel in "Saariaho: 'L'Amour De Loin," which won in the Best Opera Recording category.

The Phoenix Chorale, led by Kansas City Chorale conductor Charles Bruffy, won a Grammy in 2009 in the Best Small Ensemble category for "Spotless Rose: Hymns to the Virgin Mary."

And in 2007, the Kansas City Chorale's recording of Grechaninov's "Passion Week" received a Grammy for Best Engineered Classical Album. Bruffy is also the chorus director for the Kansas City Symphony.

UPDATE: Other notables with ties to the Kansas City area include R&B/soul performer Janelle Monae (native of Kansas City, Kan.), jazz guitarist Pat Metheny (native of Lee's Summit, Mo.), and chamber music ensemble eighth blackbird, in residence this year at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance.

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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