Faculty and alumni from local colleges such as Bard College and the College of Saint Rose were recognized at the 66th Annual GRAMMY Awards.

Andrew McKenna Lee Receives His First GRAMMY Nomination

Dr. Andrew McKenna Lee is a professor in the Music Industry Department at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York (one of my former professors! Way to go, Dr. Lee!). At this year's GRAMMY Awards, he was nominated for "Best Opera Recording, Little: Black Lodge." Mr. Lee is active as an engineer and producer, having recorded, mixed, and/or produced several acclaimed albums for other notable artists, among them David T. Little and Newspeak, Daniel Wohl and Transit New Music, and William Brittelle and the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME).

Below, composer David T. Little introduces the operatic creation, "Black Lodge" (created with librettist/poet Anne Waldman), recently produced as a film by Beth Morrison Projects, and directed by Michael Joseph McQuilken. Little discusses his exploration of David Lynch, William S. Burroughs, and Antonin Artaud, which led to the creation of this opera, as well as the work's cyclical structure, based on the Buddhist idea of a "bardo." Drawing on the disturbing and complicated mythologies of the surrealist writer William S. Burroughs (Naked Lunch), "Black Lodge" uses dance, industrial rock, classical string quartet, and opera to take viewers through a Lynchian psychological escape room.

Described as “a guitarist of impressive technique and tone” (Los Angeles Times), “and far more importantly… a thoughtful and original composer” (Jayson Greene, Wondering Sound), Andrew McKenna Lee’s music has been commissioned and programmed by ensembles and organizations such as the Brentano String Quartet, eighth blackbird, Kroumata, Third Coast Percussion, Concert Artists Guild, the American Composers Orchestra, the New Jersey Symphony, the Albany Symphony, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

As a guitarist, he has given concerts featuring his original compositions in some of the country’s most prominent venues, including New York’s Symphony Space, Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), the Annenberg Center for the Arts in Philadelphia, and Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los AngelesIn regard to the tremendous honor, Dr. Lee wrote on Facebook,

On a personal note, I've been doing a lot of production work since the pandemic; a condition born more out of circumstance and opportunity than choice, but one that I nonetheless embrace enthusiastically. I am lucky that so many outstanding artists have reached out to me over the past few years and have invited me to work with them. As a guitarist who isn't so interested in gigging, and a composer who's creative preoccupations tend to be somewhat idiosyncratic, production and engineering work give me the opportunity to truly collaborate with others in a profoundly meaningful way that is both rewarding and thoroughly enjoyable.


Bard College Faculty and Alumna Boast 2 GRAMMY Awards

Bard Composer in Residence Jessie Montgomery won Best Contemporary Classical Composition, her first GRAMMY award, for her composition “Rounds.” Bard Conservatory of Music’s Graduate Vocal Arts Program alumna Julia Bullock MM ’11 also won her first GRAMMY award, winning Best Classical Solo Vocal Album for her album Walking in the Dark. Artistic Director of the Graduate Vocal Arts Program Stephanie Blythe is featured on the album Blanchard: Champion, which won for Best Opera Recording.

Jessie Montgomery is an American composer, chamber musician, and music educator. Her compositions focus on the vernacular, improvisation, language, and social justice. Jessie Montgomery is an acclaimed composer, violinist, and educator. She is the recipient of the Leonard Bernstein Award from the ASCAP Foundation and the Sphinx Medal of Excellence, and her works are performed frequently around the world by leading musicians and ensembles. Her music interweaves classical music with elements of vernacular music, improvisation, poetry, and social consciousness, making her an acute interpreter of 21st-century American sound and experience. Her works have been described as “turbulent, wildly colorful, and exploding with life” (The Washington Post). Her growing body of work includes solo, chamber, vocal, and orchestral works.

Jessie Montgomery’s “Rounds” is a composition for piano and string orchestra inspired by the imagery and themes from T.S. Eliot’s epic poem Four Quartets, fractals (infinite patterns found in nature that are self-similar across different scales), and the interdependency of all beings.

Julia Bullock is a Grammy-winning American soprano originally from St. Louis, Missouri. Anthony Tommasini from The New York Times has called her an "impressive, fast-rising soprano... poised for a significant career." Bullock “communicates intense, authentic feeling, as if she were singing right from her soul” (Opera News), Julia Bullock is “an essential soprano for our times” (Los Angeles Times). Combining versatile artistry with a probing intellect and commanding stage presence, she has headlined productions and concerts at preeminent arts institutions around the world. A prominent voice of social consciousness and activism, Bullock is “young, highly successful, [and] politically engaged,” with the “ability to inject each note she sings with a sense of grace and urgency, lending her performances the feel of being both of the moment and incredibly timeless” (Vanity Fair).

Julia Bullock’s Walking in the Dark was recorded with her husband, conductor and pianist Christian Reif, and London’s Philharmonia Orchestra. The album combines orchestral works by American composers John Adams and Samuel Barber with a traditional spiritual and songs by jazz legend Billy Taylor and singer-songwriters Oscar Brown, Jr., Connie Converse, and Sandy Denny.

The Metropolitan Opera’s recording of Terence Blanchard’s Champion, an opera about young boxer Emile Griffith who rises from obscurity to become a world champion, was conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin and featured a cast including mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe as Kathy Hagen.

Fantastic Local New York Artists You Need to Know

In honor of all the local Hudson Valley artists that I've covered at Townsquare, I want to highlight all the musicians that I've had the privilege to interview!

Gallery Credit: Conor Walsh

"WWII War Hero" Can Be Found at Hudson Valley Regional Airport

Gallery Credit: Conor Walsh

If There Were "New Yorker Games," What Would it Look Like?

In honor of St. Augustine, FL hosting their first "Florida Man Games," let's come up with some competitions that could be featured in New York's version, "The New Yorker Games."