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Updated 10:00 AM February 13, 2006




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  'Songs of Innocence and of Experience'
Bolcom wins music's top prize—times four

U-M professor and composer William Bolcom's work "Songs of Innocence and of Experience" received four Grammy Awards—Best Classical Album, Best Choral Performance, Best Classical Contemporary Composition and Producer of the Year, Classical—Feb. 8 at the annual awards ceremony in Los Angeles.

(File Photo/Marcia Ledford, U-M Photo Services)

The Grammys, regarded as the most prestigious music prize in the United States, are handed out by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

"Songs of Innocence and of Experience," is an epic production that was performed at Hill Auditorium in April 2004. The performance, in collaboration with the School of Music and University Musical Society (UMS), was conducted by Leonard Slatkin, music director of the National Symphony Orchestra and chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra in London.

The little-performed but much acclaimed song cycle is based on the poetry of William Blake. About 450 musicians performed on an extended stage, representing the University Symphony Orchestra, the Contemporary Directions Ensemble, U-M Choirs (University Choir, Chamber Choir and Orpheus Singers), the UMS Choral Union, the Michigan State University Children's Choir, and more than a dozen soloists from the classical, pop, folk, country and operatic realms.

The work was recorded in Ann Arbor for release on the Naxos label, the first commercial recording ever made of the gargantuan work.

The performance contains references to jazz, reggae, gospel, ragtime, country and other popular idioms, as well as conventional classical styles.

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