Four Yale alumni – Marin Alsop, Sharon Isbin, Maureen Nelson, and Richard Belcher – received nominations for this year's Grammy Awards. Alsop, a graduate of Yale College, is the artistic director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the first woman to hold such a position at a major American orchestra. The other three are graduates of the School of Music.
Nelson, a violinist, and Belcher, a cellist, are members of the Enso Quartet. The quartet, formed in 1999 at the School of Music, has earned multiple honors at the 2004 Banff International String Quartet Competition and victories at the 2003 Concert Artists Guild International Competition, the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and the Chamber Music Yellow Springs Competition. The ensemble's 2005 debut on Naxos Records, a 2-CD set of Ignaz Pleyel's six string quartets, Op. 2, garnered rave reviews. The Grammy nomination for Best Chamber Music Performance goes to their most recent Naxos release, the three string quartets of Alberto Ginastera, featuring soprano Lucy Shelton.
Alsop's recording for Naxos of Leonard Bernstein's Mass with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra was nominated for Best Classical Album. In addition, the album's producer, Steven Epstein, was nominated for Best Producer of the Year, Classical. And Jennifer Higdon's Percussion Concerto, which Alsop and the London Philharmonia Orchestra recorded on Alsop Conducts MacMillan, Adès, & Higdon, was nominated for Best Classical Contemporary Composition.
This was Sharon Isbin's fourth Grammy nomination, for Journey to the New World (Sony) in the classical category of Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without Orchestra). The CD has been on the Billboard charts for 36 consecutive weeks and was the #1 classical bestseller on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and iTunes. Joan Baez and Mark O'Connor are guests on the album. Excerpts from Isbin's album are available on her website.