The award for best classical instrumental album at last night’s Grammy ceremonies went to a guitarist at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.
Jason Vieaux of Cleveland, who co-founded the guitar department at Curtis, did not expect to be nominated for a Grammy award, and he certainly did not expect to win.
“It was shocking,” said Vieaux from his Los Angeles hotel. “I couldn’t believe it. My mouth was hanging open for a few seconds, then I ran up on stage. I will be high on this for a long time.”
Vieaux won for his album “Play,” a collection of relatively short, celebratory pieces, most of which he has played as encores at the end of his concerts. The album marks his 20th year as a professional touring performer.
For kid growing up in a blue-collar family in Buffalo, New York, winning the music industry’s top award is a landmark moment, but not the only one. He still revels in the fact that he was chosen in 2011 to create a department at Curtis.
“It sounds kind of corny, but the accolades are the icing on a cake, and the cake is the constant pursuit to play at the highest quality possible,” said Vieaux. “I still practice three hours a day, even though I don’t have time to. In lieu of emails and people I should be talking to, to help my career. The Grammy, the Curtis thing — it restores your faith that quality work actually gets recognized now and again. That’s the best part of it for me. It doesn’t get ignored.”
Another Curtis faculty member, Edgar Meyer, won best contemporary instrumental album for his release with Chris Thile, “Bass and Mandolin.”