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Yale School Of Music Alum Michael Daugherty Wins Three Grammys

Feb 17, 2017

Alumni from the Yale School of Music were well represented at the Grammys this year. In all, five graduates of the Yale School of Music were up for Grammys.

But it was composer Michael Daugherty who was the big winner of the night, taking home three Grammys, including Best Contemporary Classical Composition for "Tales of Hemingway," a work for cello and orchestra. The work was commissioned and recorded by the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, and released on the Naxos label.

Daugherty -- who earned his master's and doctorate at Yale School of Music -- said he chose the cello as the solo instrument in this work because Ernest Hemingway himself played the cello in his youth. He said the orchestra was the perfect way to depict Hemingway's remarkable life.

"Hemingway was always at the right place at the right time," said Daugherty. "He was in Paris in the 1920s with the so-called lost generation. He was an ambulance driver in the First World War. He was a journalist in the Second World War. He was a boxer, and he hunted in Africa."

Each movement of "Tales of Hemingway" is named after well-known works by the writer: the short story "Big Two-Hearted River," and the novels The Old Man and the Sea, The Sun Also Rises, and For Whom the Bell Tolls -- Hemingway's 1940 work set during the brutality of the Spanish Civil War.

"It's really music of war, and the cello plays these incredible double stops. It's a march, really," said Daugherty. "At the end of the movement you are going to hear a chime. The chimes do this big crescendo which reminds us of that famous line from the end of the book."

On the classical music CD review website Musicweb International, critic Nick Barnard credited Daugherty's "Tales of Hemingway" for "ear-tickling orchestrations rich in percussion and color," and for weaving a "compelling and impressive narrative line for the cellist."

Composer Thomas Lloyd was nominated in the Best Choral Performance category for his work "Bonhoeffer."

Yale alumnus and faculty composer Christopher Theofanidis also received a Grammy nomination for his "Bassoon Concerto," which was recorded by another Yale alum, bassoonist Martin Kuuskmann, with the Northwest Sinfonia.

Percussionist David Skidmore, who earned his master's at the Yale School of Music in 2008, was also nominated for a Grammy in the Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance category as a member of the Third Coast Percussion.