Clef Notes

GRAMMY Awards 2024: Editor’s Picks


Classical musicians always get short shrift at the Grammys. While the pop awards ceremony is a great spectacle watched by millions ever year, the awards for classical music and other non-mainstream categories are not even televised (though this year they will be live-streamed). In anticipation of the 2024 GRAMMY Awards on February 4, read our editor's picks for the classical categories and listen to recommended selections.

Best Orchestral Performance

  • Adès: Dante; Gustavo Dudamel, conductor (Los Angeles Philharmonic)
  • Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra; Four Pieces; Karina Canellakis, conductor (Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra)
  • Price: Symphony No. 4; Dawson: Negro Folk Symphony; Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor (The Philadelphia Orchestra)
  • Scriabin: Symphony No. 2; The Poem of Ecstasy; JoAnn Falletta, conductor (Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra). Read our interview with conductor JoAnn Falletta about this recording here.
  • Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring; Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor (San Francisco Symphony)

Best Opera Recording

  • Blanchard: Champion; Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor; Ryan Speedo Green, Latonia Moore & Eric Owens; David Frost, producer (The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; The Metropolitan Opera Chorus)
  • Corigliano: The Lord of Cries; Gil Rose, conductor; Anthony Roth Costanzo, Kathryn Henry, Jarrett Ott & David Portillo; Gil Rose, producer (Boston Modern Orchestra Project & Odyssey Opera Chorus)
  • Little: Black Lodge; Timur; Andrew McKenna Lee & David T. Little, producers (The Dime Museum; Isaura String Quartet)

Best Choral Performance

  • Carols After a Plague; Donald Nally, conductor (The Crossing)
  • The House of Belonging; Craig Hella Johnson, conductor (Miró Quartet; Conspirare)
  • Ligeti: Lux Aeterna; Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor (San Francisco Symphony Chorus)
  • Rachmaninoff: All-Night Vigil; Steven Fox, conductor (The Clarion Choir)
  • Saariaho: Reconnaissance; Nils Schweckendiek, conductor (Uusinta Ensemble; Helsinki Chamber Choir)


Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance

  • American Stories; Anthony McGill & Pacifica Quartet
  • Beethoven for Three: Symphony No. 6, ‘Pastorale’ and Op. 1, No. 3; Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax & Leonidas Kavakos
  • Between Breaths; Third Coast Percussion
  • Rough Magic; Roomful of Teeth
  • Uncovered, Vol. 3: Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, William Grant Still, & George Walker; Catalyst Quartet

Best Classical Solo Vocal Album

  • Because; Reginald Mobley, soloist; Baptiste Trotignon, pianist
  • Broken Branches; Karim Sulayman, soloist; Sean Shibe, accompanist
  • 40@40; Laura Strickling, soloist; Daniel Schlosberg, pianist
  • Rising; Lawrence Brownlee, soloist; Kevin J. Miller, pianist
  • Walking in the Dark; Julia Bullock, soloist; Christian Reif, conductor (Philharmonia Orchestra)


Honorable mention: Listen to this charming song about a café encounter by Lori Laitman from Laura Strickling and Daniel Schlosberg’s 40@40:

Best Classical Instrumental Solo

  • Adams, John Luther: Darkness and Scattered Light; Robert Black, double bass
  • Akiho: Cylinders; Andy Akiho, percussion
  • The American Project; Yuja Wang, piano; Teddy Abrams, conductor (Louisville Orchestra)
  • Difficult Grace; Seth Parker Woods, cello
  • Of Love.; Curtis Stewart, violin


Best Contemporary Classical Composition

  • Adès: Dante; Thomas Adès, composer (Gustavo Dudamel & Los Angeles Philharmonic)
  • Akiho: In That Space, at That Time; Andy Akiho, composer (Andy Akiho, Ankush Kumar Bahl, & Omaha Symphony)
  • Brittelle: Psychedelics; William Brittelle, composer (Roomful of Teeth)
  • Mazzoli: Dark With Excessive Bright; Missy Mazzoli, composer (Peter Herresthal, James Gaffigan, & Bergen Philharmonic)
  • Montgomery: Rounds; Jessie Montgomery, composer (Awadagin Pratt, A Far Cry, & Roomful of Teeth)


Best Classical Compendium

  • Fandango; Anne Akiko Meyers; Gustavo Dudamel, conductor; Dmitriy Lipay, producer
  • Julius Eastman, Vol. 3: If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich?; Christopher Rountree, conductor; Lewis Pesacov, producer
  • Mazzoli: Dark with Excessive Bright; Peter Herresthal; Tim Weiss, conductor; Hans Kipfer, producer
  • Passion for Bach and Coltrane; Alex Brown, Harlem Quartet, Imani Winds, Edward Perez, Neal Smith & A.B. Spellman; Silas Brown & Mark Dover, producers
  • Sardinia; Chick Corea; Chick Corea & Bernie Kirsh, producers
  • Sculptures; Andy Akiho; Andy Akiho & Sean Dixon, producers
  • Zodiac Suite; Aaron Diehl Trio & The Knights; Eric Jacobsen, conductor; Aaron Diehl & Eric Jacobsen, producers

Best Engineered Album, Classical

  • The Blue Hour; Patrick Dillett, Mitchell Graham, Jesse Lewis, Kyle Pyke, Andrew Scheps, & John Weston, engineers; Helge Sten, mastering engineer (Shara Nova & A Far Cry)
  • Contemporary American Composers; David Frost & Charlie Post, engineers; Silas Brown, mastering engineer (Riccardo Muti & Chicago Symphony Orchestra)
  • Fandango; Alexander Lipay & Dmitriy Lipay, engineers; Alexander Lipay & Dmitriy Lipay, mastering engineers (Gustavo Dudamel, Anne Akiko Meyers, Gustavo Castillo & Los Angeles Philharmonic)
  • Sanlikol: A Gentleman of Istanbul – Symphony for Strings, Percussion, Piano, Oud, Ney, & Tenor; Christopher Moretti & John Weston, engineers; Shauna Barravecchio & Jesse Lewis, mastering engineers (Mehmet Ali Sanlikol, George Lernis, & A Far Cry)
  • Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 & Schulhoff: Five Pieces; Mark Donahue, engineer; Mark Donahue, mastering engineer (Manfred Honeck & Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra)


Illinois Public Media Clef Notes

Clef Notes

Illinois Arts Council Agency

These programs are partially sponsored by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.