GRAMMY Nominee Spotlight: Sharon Isbin

Okay, music nerds, here’s the deal: for a while now I’ve been planning to write several posts about our wonderful Classical GRAMMY® nominees. I’ve managed one or two, but not nearly as many as I’ve wanted to while I’ve been running around like my hair were on fire! But I have a few minutes right now, so I’ll make this quick!

She was the first classical guitarist to record with the New York Philharmonic, and the first to win a Grammy for guitarist since Nixon was in office (the last was Julian Bream in 1972). And now, she has managed to bring Joan Baez into the classical fold!

Sharon Isbin‘s nominated disc, Journey to the New World is a very rewarding album; I’ve been listening to it repeatedly and it continues to delight me. Her sound is both rich and sparkling; her playing is sensitive and energetic.

And Joan Baez sings on her album! Their collaborations on “Wayfaring Stranger” and “Go ’Way From My Window” are just haunting. John Duarte’s Joan Baez Suite incorporates several songs Baez is famous for singing. I love the way his setting of “The Unquiet Grave” incorporates the iconic “Dies Irae” melody towards the end. Similarly, “Where have all the Flowers Gone” uses the “Taps” motif to great effect.

I love the connection the album draws between English music and American folk music. They are related, you know! Also, Isbin gives new depth to “The Drunken Sailor,” which has long been associated in my mind with Sarah Vowell’s story of playing in junior high school band. It’s good to broaden one’s horizons! 😉


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