News flash from the Grammys, the music award we love to hate:
The Recording Academy announced on Wednesday that they were cutting the number of Grammy awards down from 109 to 78. For classical music recordings, this means that in lieu of 11 potential Grammys, there will be 7. The two awards for classical production will remain unchanged.
What we’ve lost: the overall Best Classical Album category; Best Chamber Music Performance (Best Small Ensemble Performance remains), one of the two Instrumental Soloist categories (separate awards used to be given for performances with and without orchestra; now, it will go to the Best Classical Instrumental Soloist, period), and — hallelujah — the Best Classical Crossover Album.
Getting rid of the crossover category certainly follows the trend, which I’ve written about here before, of the Classical Grammys reflecting actual sales trends less and less. But in a good way.
And we can hardly complain that the Grammys are singling out classical music unfairly: these cuts are across the board. Next year will see three fewer rock Grammys, three fewer pop Grammys, and four fewer R&B Grammys (and the Classical field started with more individual awards than any of these).
Another twist that will keep the awards from getting too niche-oriented, however: there must be at least 40 albums submitted in any given category. If there are between 25 and 39 albums submitted, there will be fewer nominees for that category; and if there are fewer than 25 albums submitted, that category will be put on immediate hiatus for that year. If a category has fewer than 25 entries for three years in a row, it will be abolished altogether. This is a clever way to avoid debate about things like the (now-departed) polka category. There is safety in numbers, after all.
Another bright spot: if they keep making cuts like this, is there a chance that classical music may sneak back onto the Grammy telecast? (I’m not holding my breath.)
Update: I belatedly realized that one downside of eliminating the classical crossover Grammy is that now all those recordings will go into the regular classical categories. Perish the thought that Josh Groban and Andrea Bocelli might come to dominate as “Best Classical Vocal Soloist.”