Simone Dinnerstein Nominated for a GRAMMY Award in the Category of Best Classical Instrumental Solo
An American Mosaic by Richard Danielpour
Cover: Underground, Together by Harvey Dinnerstein
Pianist Simone Dinnerstein is nominated for a GRAMMY Award in the category of Best Classical Instrumental Solo for her recording of An American Mosaic by composer Richard Danielpour on Supertrain Records. Released in March 2021, approximately one year after the first COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns in the U.S., An American Mosaic is a set of fifteen miniatures, each commemorating a segment of the American population affected by the pandemic – doctors, parents, children, front line workers, caretakers, and those who have lost their lives to the virus. The album also includes transcriptions by Danielpour for Dinnerstein of J.S. Bach’s “Agnus Dei” from the Mass in B minor, as well as “Wenn Ich einmal soll scheiden” and “Epilogue Chorus: Wir setzen, uns mit Tränen nieder,” from the St. Matthew Passion. The 2022 GRAMMY Awards will take place on Monday, January 31, 2022.
An American Mosaic, which surpassed two million streams on Apple Music, is the second in a trilogy of albums that Dinnerstein recorded at her home in Brooklyn, during the pandemic. A Character of Quiet (Orange Mountain Music, 2020), featuring the music of Philip Glass and Schubert, was described by NPR as, “music that speaks to a sense of the world slowing down.” Dinnerstein’s final installment in the trilogy, Undersong, featuring music by Couperin, Schumann, Philip Glass, and Satie, will be released on January 21, 2022 on Orange Mountain Music.
An American Mosaic was born out of both Richard Danielpour’s anxiety and insomnia early in the pandemic, and his desire to write a piano work intended to give comfort to those suffering. “The only thing that was able to relax me enough to sleep (no amount of medication would do the trick) was listening to Simone Dinnerstein’s Bach recordings,” he said. In May 2020, he contacted Dinnerstein about the piece he intended to write. Danielpour, from Los Angeles, and Dinnerstein, from New York, embarked on this collaboration in summer and fall 2020, and discussed, prepared, and rehearsed the piece entirely via email, phone, and Zoom.
“Last spring, out of the blue, I received a phone call from Richard Danielpour,” Dinnerstein recalled. “He told me how my Bach recordings had helped him through those first difficult months of the pandemic. To know that my music had touched a fellow musician 3,000 miles away during that period of isolation was extremely meaningful to me. When Richard told me about his idea for An American Mosaic, I was honored and thrilled that he asked if he could share it with me. Spending the late summer and fall last year learning his language and digging deeply into the rich tapestry of this work was a transporting experience.”
Danielpour hopes that his work will bring solace to those who hear it. “Whether they are caretakers and research physicians, parents and children, rabbis and ministers, doctors and interns, or teachers and students, these individuals are the face of America,” he said. “They comprise a mosaic of heroes that we will never forget.”
An American Mosaic was commissioned by the Oregon Bach Festival and was premiered by Dinnerstein online on December 6, 2020 in a virtual concert for OBF from her home in Brooklyn. This album, produced and engineered by Grammy-winner Adam Abeshouse, is the recording of that performance.
About the Artists
Simone Dinnerstein is an American pianist. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband, son and dog, less than a mile from the hospital in which she was born.
Simone has a distinctive musical voice. The Washington Post has called her “an artist of strikingly original ideas and irrefutable integrity.” She first came to wider public attention in 2007 through her recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, reflecting an aesthetic that was both deeply rooted in the score and profoundly idiosyncratic. She is, wrote The New York Times, “a unique voice in the forest of Bach interpretation.”
Since that recording, she has had a busy performing career. She has played with orchestras ranging from the New York Philharmonic and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra to the London Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale Rai. She has performed in venues from Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center to the Berlin Philharmonie, the Vienna Konzerthaus, the Seoul Arts Center and the Sydney Opera House. She has made ten albums, all of which topped the Billboard classical charts, with repertoire ranging from Beethoven to Ravel.
This season, Simone takes on a number of new artistic challenges. She gives the world premiere of The Eye Is the First Circle at Montclair State University, the first multi-media production she has conceived, created, and directed, which uses as source materials her father Simon Dinnerstein’s painting The Fulbright Triptych and Charles Ives’s Piano Sonata No. 2 (Concord). In addition, she premieres Richard Danielpour’s An American Mosaic, a tribute to those affected by the pandemic, in a performance on multiple pianos placed throughout Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery. She also joins Renée Fleming, the Emerson String Quartet, and Uma Thurman for performances of André Previn and Tom Stoppard’s Penelope at both Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
In recent years, Simone has created projects that express her broad musical interests. Following her recording of Mozart in Havana, she brought the Havana Lyceum Orchestra from Cuba to the United States for the very first time, raising the funding, booking the concerts, and organizing their housing and transport. Together, Simone and the orchestra played eleven concerts from Miami to Boston. Philip Glass composed his Piano Concerto No. 3 for Simone, co-commissioned by twelve American and Canadian orchestras. She collaborated with choreographer Pam Tanowitz to create New Work for Goldberg Variations, which was met with widespread critical acclaim. Working with Renée Fleming and the Emerson String Quartet, she premiered André Previn and Tom Stoppard’s Penelope at the Tanglewood, Ravinia and Aspen music festivals. Most recently, she created her own string ensemble, Baroklyn, which she directs from the keyboard. Their performance of Bach’s cantata Ich Habe Genug in March 2020 was the last concert she gave before New York City shut down.
Simone is committed to giving concerts in non-traditional venues and to audiences who don’t often hear classical music. For the last three decades, she has played concerts throughout the United States for the Piatigorsky Foundation, an organization dedicated to the widespread dissemination of classical music. It was for the Piatigorsky Foundation that she gave the first piano recital in the Louisiana state prison system at the Avoyelles Correctional Center. She has also performed at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in a concert organized by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Simone founded Neighborhood Classics in 2009, a concert series open to the public and hosted by New York City Public Schools to raise funds for their music education programs. She also created a program called Bachpacking during which she takes a digital keyboard to elementary school classrooms, helping young children get close to the music she loves. She is a committed supporter and proud alumna of Philadelphia’s Astral Artists, which supports young performers.
Simone counts herself fortunate to have studied with three unique artists: Solomon Mikowsky, Maria Curcio and Peter Serkin, very different musicians who shared the belief that playing the piano is a means to something greater. The Washington Post comments that “ultimately, it is Dinnerstein’s unreserved identification with every note she plays that makes her performance so spellbinding.” In a world where music is everywhere, she hopes that it can still be transformative.
Grammy Award-winning composer Richard Danielpour has established himself as one of the most gifted and sought-after composers of his generation. His music has attracted an international and illustrious array of champions, and, as a devoted mentor and educator, he has also had a significant impact on the younger generation of composers.
His list of commissions include some of the most celebrated artists of our day including Yo-Yo Ma, Jessye Norman, Dawn Upshaw, Susan Graham, Emanuel Ax, Gil Shaham, Frederica von Stade, Thomas Hampson, Gary Graffman, Anthony McGill, the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, the Guarneri and Emerson String Quartets, the New York City, Pacific Northwest and Nashville Ballets, and institutions such as the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Maryinsky and Vienna Chamber Orchestras, Orchestre National de France, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and many more.
With Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, Danielpour created Margaret Garner, his first opera, which premiered in 2005 and had a second production with New York City Opera. He has received two awards from the American Academy and Institute of Arts & Letters, a Guggenheim Award, the Bearns Prize from Columbia University, two Rockefeller Foundation Fellowships, and The Berlin Prize from the American Academy in Berlin. He served on the composition faculty of Manhattan School of Music from 1993 to 2017. Danielpour recently relocated to Los Angeles where he has accepted the position of Professor of Music at the Herb Alpert School of Music at UCLA. He is also a member of the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music where he has taught since 1997.
In July of 2018, Danielpour’s The Passion on Yeshua, a 100-minute passion oratorio in Hebrew and English, commissioned by the Oregon Bach Festival, the Buffalo Philharmonic, and the SDG Foundation, was premiered at the Oregon Bach Festival with JoAnn Faletta conducting. The work was then performed in December at Royce Hall in Los Angeles with the UCLA Philharmonia and Chorus led by music director Neal Stulberg and choral director James Bass. Finally, in April 2019, JoAnn Faletta lead the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus in performances of The Passion of Yeshua, where it was recorded by Naxos. The album was released in March of 2020 to critical acclaim and is currently considered for three separate Grammys, including Best Contemporary Classical Composition.
This year will see new and innovative works, the most significant of them being A Standing Witness, a series of 14 songs which are settings of poems written by celebrated poet Rita Dove. Composed for mezzo-soprano Susan Graham and Music from Copland House, this one-hour work which witnesses the last 50 years of our American history will be premiered in several cities beginning in the summer of 2021.
Danielpour is one of the most recorded composers of his generation; many of his recordings can be found on the Naxos of America and Sony Classical labels. Danielpour's music is published by Lean Kat Music and Associated Music Publishers.