USC Thornton faculty and alumni nominated for GRAMMY Awards

By Evan Calbi

Photo of Sara Gazarek

Sara Gazarek received her first ever GRAMMY nominations for her album Thirsty Ghost. (Photo: Shervin Lainez)

USC Thornton artists, including both faculty and alumni, received nominations across multiple categories for the 62nd GRAMMY Awards. Some highlights include nominations for Andrew Norman’s celebrated composition, “Sustain,” two for Jazz Studies faculty member Sara Gazarek, her first nominations, and multiple nods for Vince Mendoza.

Jazz Studies faulty member Sara Gazarek received two nominations—the first time she’s been nominated for a GRAMMY Award—for her album, Thirsty Ghost. Gazarek received a nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album, while Geoff Keezer earned a nomination for Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals for his arrangement of “Jolene” featured on the album.

Photo of Vince Mendoza conducting

Faculty member Vince Mendoza, who has won six GRAMMYs, has received multiple nominations this year.

Jazz Studies faculty member Vince Mendoza continued his streak of multiple nominations each year with three nominations, and a fourth for a big band he leads as conductor. Like Gazarek and Keezer, Mendoza was also nominated for Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals for Trisha Yearwood’s rendition of “Over the Rainbow.”

Mendoza also received two nominations for his tune, “Love, A Beautiful Force,” for Best Instrumental Composition and Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella. And The WDR Big Band, for which he is the conductor, were the featured performers for Fred Hersch’s track “Begin Again,” nominated for Best Instrumental Composition.

Composition faculty member Andrew Norman was nominated for Best Contemporary Classical Composition for his groundbreaking work, Sustain, which the Los Angeles Times called “a masterpiece.” The Los Angeles Philharmonic was nominated for Best Orchestral Performance for the recording of the work.

Photo of Andrew Norman with Gustavo Dudamel

Composer Andrew Norman with L.A. Phil conductor Gustavo Dudamel after a performance of “Sustain” at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. (Photo: Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)

Photo of Nadia Shpachenko

Nadia Shpachenko received a nomination for her album The Poetry of Places, marking her fourth GRAMMY nomination.

Alum Nadia Shpachenko (MM ’99, DMA ’04), was nominated for Best Classical Compendium for her album The Poetry of Places, which includes pieces by both Andrew Norman and his colleague in the Composition program, Nina C. Young.

Alumni performers were also featured on several albums that received nominations. Sunny Yang, cellist of Kronos Quartet, is featured on the celebrated quartet’s album Riley: Sun Rings, which was nominated for Best Engineered Album, Classical. Non-degreed alumnus Reeves Carney was one of the stars of Hadestown, nominated for Best Musical Theater Album.

The 62nd GRAMMY Awards will air Jan. 26 on CBS.

TAGS: Alumni, Classical Division, Classical Performance and Composition, Composition, Contemporary Music, Contemporary Music Division, Jazz Studies, Keyboard Studies, Strings, Studio Guitar, Winds and Percussion,

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