From Beyonce to ZZ Top, Houston artists are no strangers to the Grammy Awards; however, this weekend’s award ceremony included a Houston milestone: the Houston Symphony won its first-ever award in the category of Best Opera Recording.
Much like the Astros’ World Series triumph a few months earlier, the win was a true team effort, involving artists and musicians from all over the city. The symphony’s recording of the opera “Wozzeck” by early 20th Century Austrian composer Alban Berg also included soloists Anne Schwanewilms & Roman Trekel and singers from the Shepherd School Of Music at Rice University and Houston Grand Opera Children’s Chorus.
The little-known opera has not received a Grammy nomination in the award’s 60-year history, and the Houston Symphony has also never been nominated for an award in previous years.
The winning recording was part of the farewell celebration for then-conductor and musical director Hans Graf, who accepted the award.
“I’m rather quiet in these matters, but it’s a huge, huge rewarding thing,” said Graf. “And I’m so happy that it was a piece from off the beaten path. And that the Houston Symphony allowed it to happen and supported it.”
“This piece isn’t like Mozart, where you see it done more often,” Graf continued. “It was out of the ordinary. So the success and the response has been extraordinary in every sense of the word.”
Co-producer and recording engineer Brad Sayles also accepted the award on behalf of the symphony.
“This feels very exciting right now,” Sayles said. “Especially with the city still recovering and rebuilding after the hurricane. First a World Series, and now a Grammy.”