New Age Grammy Nominees for 2024

Grammy New Age Incoherence

by John Diliberto 11/10/2023

And in the New Age, Ambient or Chant album category, the nominees are:

Kirsten Agresta-Copely

Moments Of Beauty
Omar Akram

Some Kind of Peace (Piano Reworks)
Ólafur Arnalds

Ocean Dreaming Ocean
David Darling & Hans Christian

So She Howls
Carla Patullo Featuring Tonality and The Scorchio Quartet

They can change the name of the category, but it still comes up incoherent when it comes to these Grammy nominations. Once again, artists with absolutely no profile, somehow make it into the final five.

Ever heard of Kirsten Agresta-Copely?  She does have nearly 100,000 Spotify listens for her nominated album, Aquamarine, but it’s a slight, solo harp-in-reverb release that is pleasant, but not exactly consequential.  Playing all original music, she fills a slot left behind by the likes of the late-Hilary Stagg.  

Another inconsequential contender is Omar Akram’s Moments in Beauty. The Afghan-American composer won for his Echoes of Love album in 2013. Moments shares that album’s neo-classical sensibility, siphoned through Liberace-esque faux-classicism and Yanni shlock. It’s music so sweet it should have a warning for diabetes patients. 

Then there is Carla Patullo. She’s a film composer of several notable, but minor releases.  Her album, So She Howls, is a neo-classical work that the ear will instantly scan as a soundtrack. It’s a sophisticated album that mixes many styles, including Asian on “Family Chairs,” and will remind you of Hans Zimmer in many moments. It’s not new age nor ambient – I suspect it’s an album that got tossed here because it didn’t fit anywhere else. As skilled as Patullo is, who has heard this album?  She does have nearly 50,000 listens on Spotify, but that’s not much. 

It’s nice to see Olafur Arnalds here, but this is one of his least significant albums, essentially remixes of his 2020 album, Some Kind of Peace. But even as a lesser Arnald’s album it towers over most of the nominees here in originality.  It has a unique sense of musical space that rides that thin line of musical essence. 

I could say the same for Hans Christian and David Darling. Their nominated album, Ocean Dreaming Ocean, is a little problematic because it was created after David Darling’s death in 2021.   Christian, also a cellist, is the kind of artist I’d want handling this legacy. He accompanied Darling’s previously-recorded cello solos, creating duets with the ambient chamber music pioneer, with creative use of reverb and electronic textures. 

If Academy voters had a modicum of taste, one of these last two would be taking home the trophy. Two out of five  isn’t good, but at least there were two deserving choices. 

And a note to those Academy members who pushed to add ambient and chant to the New Age category: that really worked out, didn’t it? If you are trying to make people not give a fuck at all about this category, you have succeeded.

  13 comments for “New Age Grammy Nominees for 2024

  1. Getting in the Grammy run is out of my picture frame. I am aware that there needs to be quite a push to get it in to consideration. I chose to attempt it w/ my Imaginings album. But it wasn’t fun. It felt un-natural. I do remember when I was younger I thought (Naive me) an album had to be great to win (Well, sometimes great albums DO win). I’m still working on whittlin’ down my ego so it’s enough being able to paint musical pictures 🙂 I really love doing that!. paul adams

  2. Hi John, well, I had the privilege of playing (solo electric viola and acoustic with my string quartet, Scorchio) on Carla Patullo’s stunningly gorgeous album, So She Howls. While it may indeed traverse/transcend more than your taste in “New Age,” it was a moving and immersive experience in the recording studio, and it evokes the same response when I listen to it now. Her experience and skills as a film composer add another dimension to this ever evolving category. All the categories are evolving. Not just New Age. The entries in Classical are not the same as they were 6 decades ago. While yet another cycle of Beethoven or Mozart symphonies may be welcome to some listeners, there is an ever emerging selection of very much alive composers creating new music for orchestras and operas, etc that sound quite far removed from the orchestras of the 17th and 18th centuries.

    • Congratulations on your work with Carla. As I said, it was a sophisticated album. My only question was that it had absolutely no profile. So how did it get enough votes to get in?

      • The level of an artist’s or album profile is not a requirement for a Grammy nomination. Every entry must meet certain criteria to be eligible, and is not dependent on number of streams or album sales (which there aren’t any more anyway). Voting members are expected to vote on the quality of the music, not how much money was spent to promote the artist/album. There were hundreds of entries in the first round.

      • You’re missing the point. I don’t think anyone knows who 3 out of the five nominees are. I don’t think they really listened to their music, and if they did, and truly weighed their merit against others on the ballot, then their taste really sucks,because if one of them wins, no one will remember who they are by this time next year.

  3. well, that’s not really the point either. and there’s no reason to continue a compelling discussion once you pronounce that someone else’s taste in music sucks.

    Flashback to: 2011 — Jazz artist Esperanza Spalding’s surprise win over teen pop music singer Justin Bieber at the Grammy Awards prompted upset Bieber fans to unleash their anger online.

    “It’s especially surprising in hindsight since Spalding’s competitors were a who’s who of soon-to-be superstars. Global pop star Justin Bieber, back in his “Baby” days, seemed like the front-runner. Canadian rapper Drake was also nominated and was considered Bieber’s closest competitor. Both artists had had amazing years with multiple hits. The other two nominees weren’t passing fads either. Florence and the Machine are were repeatedly nominated in the years that followed, and Mumford and Sons were not only commercially successful, but ended up winning Album of the Year for “Babel” the following year. Either of the four would’ve been traditional Grammy choices,”

    • And four of them had a lot of artistic merit, including the winner. Not only that but four of them pushed the envelope a bit with innovative ideas and a sound that stood out. Anyway, thanks for being engaged in the conversation. I don’t expect everyone to agree .

  4. I don’t watch much 🙂 I do enjoy the Oscars the majority of the time. I just feel more connection there.

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