New York State Council on the Arts
300 Park Avenue South, 10th Floor
New York, New York 10010
Contact: Ronni Reich
March 19, 2021

New York State Ensembles Triumph at the GRAMMYs

Longtime NYSCA Grantees From Three Regions Win GRAMMY Awards

Albany Symphony Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, and Metropolitan Opera Receive Awards


New York – New York State music ensembles received honors at the 63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards on Sunday, March 14, 2021, including the Albany Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Metropolitan OperaAs New Yorkers mark a year unlike any other, the achievements of these two trailblazing orchestras – both regular presences at the GRAMMYs – and the world’s foremost opera company underscored the unparalleled caliber and vitality of New York State’s arts sector across the state.

3 of New York’s 10 regions were represented by these wins. After a year of canceled performances and unprecedented events, the Capital Region, Western New York, and New York City celebrate these honors. These ensembles represent our State’s exceptional creative community, and as we continue our reopening and recovery, each organization will be a catalyst for arts tourism.

"NYSCA extends our deepest congratulations to Albany Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and The Met Opera on their Grammy Awards," said Mara Manus, Executive Director, New York State Council on the Arts. "New York State musicians have continued to share their talents and uplift New Yorkers during this incredibly challenging year. Whether experienced as a recording, virtual concert, or live performance, music continues to be an invaluable asset to New York's creative culture."

NYSCA has shown unwavering support for music throughout its history. Each of these ensembles has received decades of NYSCA support, totaling nearly $9 million over the last 20 years, including general support critical to sustaining operations as well as support for commissions and creative projects that advance New York State as a national leader in the arts and cultural destination. 

As COVID-19 swept across New York, all 3 ensembles shifted to online programming and forward-thinking new approaches, continuing to provide New Yorkers with inspiring creativity, building new audiences, and laying groundwork for the recovery of the arts, which play a critical role in our state’s economic and community health.

A national leader for its innovative programming, the Albany Symphony received the 2020 GRAMMY award for Best Classical Instrumental Solo - Theofanidis: Concerto For Viola And Chamber Orchestra, a world premiere recording of a work inspired by Navajo poetry. The GRAMMY was awarded to Richard O'NeillDavid Alan Miller, conductor, Albany Symphony. This was the fifth time in seven years that an Albany Symphony recording received a GRAMMY nomination. The Albany Symphony recording of John Corigliano’s Conjurer with world-famous percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie won the 2013 GRAMMY for Best Classical Instrumental Solo. 

In recent years, the orchestra has drawn tens of thousands of listeners to large-scale community events such as its groundbreaking Water Music series of concerts along the Erie Canal, providing powerful communal experiences and supporting local businesses across the state. 

In October 2020, Albany Symphony launched their first virtual season to ensure the safety of audiences and musicians. The 2020/2021 season features an exciting lineup of both new voices and cherished classical composers. Albany Symphony plans to host socially distanced performances this summer, including the American Music Festival – Trailblaze!

A cornerstone of Western New York culture, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra received the 2020 GRAMMY award for Best Choral Performance for Danielpour: The Passion Of Yeshua, a dramatic oratorio bringing together hundreds of musicians and voices in a retelling of the final hours of Christ on Earth. The GRAMMY was awarded to JoAnn Falletta, conductor; James K. Bass & Adam Luebke, chorus masters; James K. Bass, J'Nai Bridges, Timothy Fallon, Kenneth Overton, Hila Plitmann & Matthew Worth; Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra; Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus & UCLA Chamber Singers. In 2008, under the direction of Falletta, the BPO won a GRAMMY Award for Best Contemporary Composition for its recording of John Corigliano’s ‘Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems of Bob Dylan.’

Underscoring its commitment to its community, in 2019, the BPO spearheaded the East Side Festival, a daylong event commemorating the historic Central Terminal and celebrating the cultural heritage of Buffalo’s East Side. The Philharmonic is now sharing their unparalleled artistry through their video-streamed performance series, BPOnDemand.

The Metropolitan Opera received the 2020 GRAMMY award for Best Opera Recording - Gershwin: Porgy And Bess, a historic opening night production performed on the Met stage for the first time in 30 years, seen around the world through the Live in HD series. The GRAMMY was awarded to David Robertson, conductor; Frederick BallentineAngel BlueDenyce GravesLatonia Moore Eric OwensDavid Frost, producer, The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and The Metropolitan Opera Chorus. 

In recent years, the Met has developed new initiatives to highlight contemporary composers and will open its next season with a premiere by Terrance Blanchard, the first work by a Black composer in its history. The Met has also expanded offerings through its extensive streaming collection, Met Opera on Demand.

With decades of NYSCA support, these ensembles have continued to create dynamic programming for all New Yorkers. In 2021, NYSCA awarded over $3 million through the agency's music program. NYSCA recently announced their 2021 grant awards including $16.7 million in new grant awards and $23.3 million in multi-year grants.

About the New York State Council on the Arts

The New York State Council on the Arts preserves and advances the arts and culture that make New York State an exceptional place to live, work and visit.  

NYSCA upholds the right of all New Yorkers to experience the vital contributions the arts make to our communities, education, economic development and quality of life. Through its core grantmaking activity, NYSCA awarded $43.8M in FY2020 to 2,500 organizations statewide through direct grants and regrants in our 15 programs, the Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) initiative and the Mid-Size Capital Project Fund. NYSCA funding supports the visual, literary, media and performing arts and includes dedicated support for arts education and underserved communities. NYSCA further advances New York's creative culture by convening leaders in the field and providing organizational and professional development opportunities and informational resources. 

Created by Governor Nelson Rockefeller in 1960, and continued and expanded to the present day with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, NYSCA is an agency of the Executive Branch of the New York State Government. For more information on NYSCA, please visit, and follow NYSCA's Facebook page, Twitter @NYSCArts and Instagram @NYSCouncilontheArts.

Copyright © 2022 New York State. All rights reserved. | Our Privacy Policy