Baltimore Sun

UConn composer Kenneth Fuchs receives 4th Grammy nomination

UConn professor Kenneth Fuchs has received a Grammy nomination for his new album “Piano Concerto ‘Spiritualist’/Poems of Life/Glacier/Rush.”

Kenneth Fuchs, professor of musical composition at UConn, has received a Grammy nomination in the Best Classical Compendium category for his album “Piano Concerto ‘Spiritualist’/Poems of Life/Glacier/Rush.”

In a phone interview Friday afternoon, Fuchs said he hopes that “recognition of this stature” will lead these works to be performed by more orchestras.


“I’m pleased that it got nominated for Classical Compendium, since that really is a nomination for everyone involved with it.”

In his UConn compositions classes, Fuchs said he teaches students to “advocate for your own music.” Modern composers, he says, need to be self-promoters and entrepreneurs.


“To do this album, I had to raise the money, schedule the orchestra, book Abbey Road [studios in London], make the travel arrangements… That’s what orchestra composers have to know how to do these days.”

The “Spiritualist” album, consisting of four separate multipart Fuchs compositions performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, was released Aug. 10 on the NAXOS American Classics label. It’s Fuchs’ fifth CD with the London Symphony. For this recording, the orchestra is conducted by JoAnn Falletta (a classmate of Fuchs’ at the Juilliard School in New York in the 1970s). Soloists include electric guitarist D.J. Sparr, alto saxophonist Timothy McAllister, pianist Jeffrey Biegel and countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen.

The music ranges from the sweeping three-movement “Spiritualist,” which draws comparisons to the work of Aaron Copland, to the operatic “Poems of Life,” which includes sections titled “Gary Died,” “Just Like That,” “Time Slips Away: and “The Retreat” and is drawn from the poetry of Judith G. Wolf.

“When we were putting it together, we realized it was an odd mix of repertoire,” Fuchs said. “There’s a concerto for piano, which is a very traditional form. Then there’s a concerto for electric guitar, which is highly unusual, a concerto for alto saxophone and a song cycle for a countertenor. It really is an oddball mix. But that’s the recording’s strength.”

Fuchs said after working with the London Symphony Orchestra on five albums over a 15-year period, “I often think of the LSO when recording orchestral music.”

“With the latest release of recent orchestral works Kenneth Fuchs reaffirms his stature as one of the US's very most distinguished living composers,” reads a review of the CD at … All of the music literally lifts itself out of your speakers and enters your musical self in ways increasingly riveting the more you listen.”

Fuchs says the Naxos label routinely submits its recordings for Grammy consideration. This is Fuchs’ fourth Grammy nomination. His first album with the London Symphony Orchestra, “An American Place/Eventide/Out of the Dark” in 2005, earned two nominations; and 2012’s “Atlantic Riband/American Rhapsody/Divinum Mysterium/Concerto Grosso/Discover the Wild” was nominated in the “Classical Producer of the Year” category.

Fuchs is a versatile composer who has created works for orchestras, bands, choruses and chamber ensembles. He and playwright Lanford Wilson have collaborated on three chamber musicals. His operatic monodama “Falling Man,” featuring text by novelist Don DeLillo adapted by the late Connecticut-based poet J.D. McClatchy, was performed at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in 2016. The composer said he is currently exploring subjects for a full-length opera.


Fuchs came to UConn in 2005 to head the department of music. He served in that position for three years. He now teaches classes that cover composition, arranging and orchestration. His work has regularly been performed at UConn recitals and symphony concerts, though he said there are no upcoming live performances of his works in Connecticut this season.

Fuchs is currently working on a piece that will be played by the U.S. Coast Guard Band, which is based in New London.

Grammy winners will be announced Feb. 10.