Posted December 6, 2012

Two Temple-commissioned orchestral works earn GRAMMY nominations

Two major pieces of orchestral music performed and recorded by the Temple University Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Professor Luis Biava have been nominated for a 2013 GRAMMY Award.

"Music of Ansel Adams: America" and "Overture, Waltz and Rondo," both nominated in the "Best Instrumental Composition" category, were commissioned by Temple's Boyer College of Music and Dance, recorded at the Temple Performing Arts Center and released on Boyer's record label, BCM&D records.

  • The Temple University Symphony Orchestra warms up to play "Ansel Adams: America" in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center in 2010.
  • The late Dave Brubeck (in glasses) embraces Professor Luis Biava (right), artistic director of the Temple University Symphony Orchestra, in 2010.
  • Chris Brubeck (right) receives the Boyer College Tribute Award at the Kimmel Center in 2010 from Robert Stroker, dean of Temple's Center for the Arts and vice provost for the arts.

"This is an extraordinary accomplishment for Temple and for Boyer," said Robert T. Stroker, dean of Temple's Center for the Arts and vice provost of the arts. "For a university ensemble to participate in a GRAMMY-nominated work is rare enough — for a university ensemble to be part of two GRAMMY nominations in one year may be unprecedented. It's a testament to the talent of our students and the dedication of our faculty."

"Music of Ansel Adams: America" was composed by late jazz pianist and composer Dave Brubeck — who died the day nominations were announced — and his son Chris. The piece, which was co-commissioned in 2008, was premiered by the Temple University Symphony Orchestra (TUSO) at Lincoln Center in New York in 2010 with Dave Brubeck and members of Ansel Adams' family in attendance.

"Overture, Waltz and Rondo" was commissioned by Boyer and composed by former Boyer faculty member Bill Cunliffe in 2011. Professor Terell Stafford, director of Jazz Studies and chair of Instrumental Studies at Boyer, was trumpet soloist on the piece.

To listen to audio clips or purchase the pieces, go to the links above.

A National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences voting panel of composers, producers and musicians selected five nominees from a pool of 375 qualifying entries in the "Best Instrumental Composition" category. The 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards will take place on Feb. 10, 2013, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The GRAMMY for "Best Instrumental Composition" will be awarded before the prime-time telecast sometime after 4 p.m. ET (viewers can watch live at

Although TUSO's student musicians are as excited as anyone about the nomination, they also acknowledged the experience's value as part of their professional training.

"Working with composers like Chris Brubeck and Bill Cunliffe — having them in the room with us and giving us feedback — was valuable for us," said senior Fiona Last, an oboe performance major who played on both GRAMMY-nominated works. "It was great to see how a composer goes about preparing for a premiere and how a recording happens. Those are the kinds of things that we will experience as professionals."

"Music of Ansel Adams: America" and "Overture, Waltz and Rondo" are the second and third Temple-commissioned, TUSO-performed orchestral works to have been nominated for a GRAMMY. A piece by Bill Cunliffe, "fourth stream…La Banda," was a "Best Instrumental Composition" nominee in 2010.