Professor helps local group earn Grammy

Written by Muleskinner Staff

Story by Nicole Cooke, Copy Editor—
One UCM professor has helped bring a little bit of Grammy’s magic to Kansas City through his work with the Kansas City Chorale.
The group was nominated for two awards this year: Best engineered album, classical, and best choral performance, both for “Life & Breath – Choral Works by René Clausen.” The group’s producer, Blanton Alspaugh, was nominated for producer of the year.
KCC went home with both awards, and Alspaugh also went home a winner.
Among those in the winning ensemble is David Adams, artist-in-residence in the UCM voice department.
Although Adams is not a regular member of the ensemble, he has stepped in as needed for specific projects over eight seasons since 1994.
He first joined when he was in graduate school for performances of a Rachmaninov liturgy. He fully joined the group the following season.
KCC was notified of its Grammy nominations in September. Voting began in October, and the group was notified it was one of five finalists in November.
“I was very excited to know we were going to the final voting round, particularly since I was featured as a soloist on one of the tracks, ‘O Vos Omnes,’” Adams said. “The group was also very pleased.”
For those in attendance at the Grammy’s, it is a full day of activities. KCC received its award during the afternoon ceremony. The award was presented to KCC artistic director Charles Bruffy.
Alspaugh received his award first, an award KCC had been awarded before. When it came to announcing the winner for KCC’s first award, there was a moment of confusion and disappointment for the group, followed by loud cheers once they realized what had happened.
“When they announced the best choral performance category, the presenter said the name of the composer on the disc, not the name of the conductor, Charles Bruffy,” Adams said. “If you watched the live stream you can hear the audible sigh when this occurred, immediately followed by an enormous roar from our group. There were nearly 40 of us in attendance, so you can imagine the sound!”
After receiving all three awards, the group headed to the televised awards ceremony at the Staples Center. They even got the real red carpet experience when they went to an event after the ceremony with entertainment provided by Estelle and the B-52s.
While attending the Grammy’s was a special occasion because of the glamour of Hollywood, it was also special for a personal reason.
“There was a big turnover in personnel since the recording, so attending the ceremony was like a reunion for us,” Adams said.
This recent win could mean a lot for KCC, as well as the Kansas City arts community.
“This definitely raises the stakes, both for the ensemble and Bruffy,” Adams said. “(KCC is) already recognized as one of the best SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) ensembles worldwide. This win shines a new light on both KCC and Kansas City as an arts community.”
Through his experience with KCC, Adams has gained professional experience for himself, as well as for the students he works with at UCM.
“I often use the skills learned in KCC with my students,” Adams said. “Such a large part of the vocal students’ singing experience is in choral music. My skills can be applied by showing them how to sing in an ensemble using a healthy tone.”
KCC is a professional choir of comprised of 12 men and 12 women. According to its website, the group, which debuted in 1982, has 10 season performances each year, and also performs several contract concerts during the year in various locations across the country.
Concerts include everything from blues, rock and jazz, to major classical works and contemporary pieces. KCC has recorded in various styles as well, including Russian liturgical music and American hymn tunes.
The group is no stranger to the Grammy awards experience. According to KCC’s website, the group received a Grammy award in 2007 for best engineered classical album for its recording of Grechaninov’s “Passion Week.” KCC was also nominated for four other awards, including best classical album.
“While with the group, I enjoyed being part of such a great group of solo artists,” Adams said. “While much praise is garnered on the conductor for groups such as this, it would be impossible for the level of expertise the group manages without an exemplary group of dedicated singers.
For more information on KCC, visit kcchorale.org.