Hearty congratulations to Cedar Rapids native Michael Daugherty on winning not one but three Grammy Awards, for an album that includes a work written for Iowa and first broadcast on IPR. The album, Tales of Hemingway (Naxos 8.559798), won "Best Classical Compendium" for Daugherty and for the performers, the Nashville Symphony led by Giancarlo Guerrero. The title piece, Tales of Hemingway, won "Best Contemporary Classical Composition." And the soloist in Tales, cellist Zuill Bailey, won "Best Classical Instrumental Solo." The album also includes an organ concerto, plus the Iowa-inspired masterpiece you heard here first, American Gothic.
Daugherty wrote American Gothic in 2013 for Orchestra Iowa's triumphant return to the Paramount Theatre. That historic, beautiful hall had been badly damaged by the flood of 2008, and its restoration symbolized the resilient spirit of Cedar Rapids. To create music suitable for the occasion, Daugherty found inspiration in the city's best-known artistic son, Grant Wood. Daugherty calls his work "a contemporary musical reflection on the creative world of Iowa artist, Grant Wood... it also reflects on the years I grew up in Cedar Rapids... With exceptional public schools, opulent movie palaces and a marvelous symphony orchestra, art museum, public library and community theater, Cedar Rapids is a splendid Midwestern center for the arts."
So it is, and it is proud of you, Michael, as is all of Iowa!
For IPR's 2013 broadcast of the premiere of American Gothic, Jacqueline Halbloom interviewed Daugherty and Orchestra Iowa's music director Timothy Hankewich, the man who chose Daugherty for the commission. You can hear the conversation below. (Footnote: Orchestra Iowa made the first recording of American Gothic . It remains one of our favorite albums, but it's good to see the work becoming a modern classic and repertory piece with two notable recordings!)