Local musicians shine at the Grammy Awards

The War on Drugs perform in concert during the Radio 104.5 Summer Block Party

The War on Drugs perform in concert during the Radio 104.5 Summer Block Party at Festival Pier on Sunday, July 12, 2015, in Philadelphia. The South Philly band is nominated for a Grammy Award. (Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP)

Although you may not have seen it on television, Philadelphia was represented broadly in last night’s Grammy Awards.

The band War On Drugs won for Best Rock Album for “A Deeper Understanding.” The band is currently on tour in New Zealand and was not able to attend the Grammy award event.

Just last week, one of the album’s radio singles, “Pain,” reached No.1 on the Billboard Alternative Rock chart.

War On Drugs was up against a roster of staunch hard rock acts: Metallica, Mastadon, and Nothing More. Last year, frontman Adam Granduciel told Rolling Stone that his lushly produced, somewhat psychedelic album was influenced by Bruce Springsteen, Warren Zevon, and Wilco.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Sunday night’s televised Grammy Awards only presented a portion of the long list of categories. Earlier in the day, without TV cameras and their inevitable drama, the winner of Best Choral Album was announced: the Philadelphia-based new music choir The Crossing, with the PRISM saxophone quartet, won for their recording of the Gavin Bryars composition, “The Fifth Century.”

The Crossing – with 15 CDs to its name, covering a wide range of styles — has been nominated for a Grammy twice. This is the first time the ensemble has won.

“The last 15 hours has been an amazing outpouring of love from all over the world. It feels so good to know that people care about our work,” said Crossing conductor Donald Nally.

Nally watched a live stream of the award ceremony, from Chicago, where he teaches conducting at Northwestern University. He accidentally had the stream on a 4-minute delay, so congratulatory texts started blowing up his phone before he knew what happened.5

The Crossing commissioned “The Fifth Century” from Bryars, sending him a copy of “Centuries of Meditations,” a book by the 17th century spiritual poet Thomas Traherne. A New York Times review of a performance said piece was poignant and meditative “where mood took precedence over clarity.”

It was written in memory of The Crossing’s co-founder, Jeffrey Dinsmore, who died in 2014 at age 42.

“The piece will have a far greater reach,” said Nally. “Winding up on a magazine as a Grammy winner means an enormous number of people we think about checking o555

The big band jazz leader Christian McBride and jazz quartet Jeff Lorber Fusion each won for Best Large Jazz Ensemble and Best Contemporary Instrumental, respectively. McBride and Fusion both grew up started playing in Philadelphia, and are now based elsewhere.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal