Grammy nominations raise questions of what constitutes classical music

Posted on: February 23, 2022

“When is a classical music composition not actually classical?,” writes Dalya Alberge in Sunday’s (2/20) Guardian (U.K.) “This is the conundrum now at the heart of a heated row over the shortlisted songs for the Grammys, the annual awards that will be handed out in a few weeks’ time to recognize outstanding contributions to music. A number of musicians have collectively expressed their outrage that nominations for the ‘classical music’ awards include recordings they consider anything but classical. Letters of complaint have been sent to the organizers, the Recording Academy, arguing that the tracks in question—by two separate artists, Jon Batiste and Curtis Stewart—have been ‘mis-categorised.’ Their objections have absolutely nothing to do with quality, but genre, say the musicians. They believe that ‘mistaken categorization’ jeopardizes the credibility of the music industry’s highest honors. Though not disputing the brilliance of the Oscar-winning Batiste, they believe that his [two-minute] track, ‘Batiste: Movement 11’, should not have been nominated for best contemporary classical composition. While they similarly admire the multi-Grammy nominated Stewart, they believe his album, Of Power, should not have been nominated for best classical instrumental solo.” The 2022 Grammy winners will be announced on April 3.