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Classical 101

Changes Coming to the Grammys, How Will They Affect Classical?

The Recording Academy recently announced that it was making some changes to the 54th Grammy Awards in 2012. The restructuring amounts to a reduction in the number of Categories (bringing the total number of recognized Categories to 78, down from 109). In the Classical Field, there will be four less Categories (seven instead of eleven), which has, not surprisingly, caused some upset. Best Small Ensemble Performance, Best Classical Vocal Performance, Best Classical Contemporary Composition and Best Classical Crossover Album are all no more. There will also be some narrowing of the Categories: Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance without Orchestra is now called Best Classical Instrumental Solo and Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance without Orchestra is now called Best Classical Vocal Solo. The most significant change to the classical music field is the elimination of the Best Classical Album category and it's inclusion in more general Album Of The Year category. It's all rather confusing, so here's the full list of changes (or use this category mapper). Some have expressed grave concern about classical music's waning representation at The Grammys, but could it be that these changes made by the Academy are not all bad? Whether the elimination of Best Classical Album (or its inclusion in the the General Field) will cause classical musicians to be completely crowded out by more "popular" artists is not yet clear. When Esperanza Spalding was up against Justin Bieber for "Best New Artist" in the 2011 Grammy Awards, the classical/jazz artist won over the pop/R&B star. At very least, this puts classical musicians - if they make the cut in any given category - in the running (winning exposure, even if not a prize) during prime-time hours, when everyone is paying attention to the Justin Biebers and Taylor Swifts of the music industry.