CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – On Wednesday night, following a nationally televised concert in Nashville, the nominees for the 55th Annual Grammy Awards were announced. Near the very bottom of that list of nominees, available online at www.grammy.com/nominees, was the category for “Producer of the Year, Classical,” and the name Blanton Alspaugh.
Alspaugh’s Grammy nomination is the result of several superb classical albums he helped usher into existence this year, including “Chamber Symphonies,” by Clarksville’s own Gateway Chamber Orchestra. That album, released last spring by Summit Records, features chamber symphonies by Romanian composer George Enescu and Austrian composers Franz Schreker and Arnold Schoenberg.
“The players may be university faculty members augmented by practicing musicians from the outside community, but in every way these are topnotch, professional performances that match or outclass the competition,” music critic Jerry Dubins wrote in his review of the album for Fanfare magazine.
The orchestra, which formed in 2007 and is made up of Austin Peay State University music faculty and other professional musicians, released its debut CD in 2010, “Wind Serenades.” That CD was also put forward for Grammy nominations by leaders in the music industry who recognized the high quality of the music.
“It’s important to understand that we only submit recordings which we believe merit Grammy consideration,” Alspaugh said previously. “That means that they represent excellence in performance and in production values. Any nomination for Producer of the Year ultimately rests on the artistry on display in these recordings.”
Dr. Gregory Wolynec, APSU professor of music and the orchestra’s conductor, met Alspaugh several years ago when the producer was on campus recording an album in what is today the Mabry Concert Hall in the APSU Music/Mass Communication Building.
“I just said, ‘Let me send you something,’” Wolynec recalled. “He listened to it, and he’s the one who called Summit Records and said, ‘You need to make this happen.' Summit Records got behind it, and then we were able to do the ‘Wind Serenades’ disc.”
That first album was also praised by several music critics and classical music publications, garnering a Grammy nomination for Producer of the Year. The new CD, “Chamber Symphonies,” continues with that trend while building upon the orchestra’s reputation for delivering top-notch performances.
The American Record Guide called the “Chamber Symphonies” disc “bold, powerful, American,” and said the orchestra’s rendition of Schreker’s work is “the most extroverted and bold, with rich, intense colors, a big sound and fine integration of the work’s episodic nature.”
“The main credit has to go to Gregory Wolynec and his outstanding Gateway Chamber Orchestra players for their fantastic achievement,” Dubins wrote in his Fanfare review. “I commend this release to you with my strongest recommendation.”
The “Chamber Symphonies” album was considered for nominations in several Grammy categories – including producer of the year, engineered sound and small ensemble.
The Grammy Award winners will be announced on Feb. 10.
For more information, visit the orchestra’s website, www.gatewaychamberorchestra.com.