KUDOS: The Colorado Blues Musicians Who Competed in the International Blues Challenge // Denver Professor Nominated For Grammy // California Choral Director Awarded Grammy Music Educator of the Year

From Carla Jordan (Ziggie’s) on Fb, 2/04/17: The Colorado musicians came and left their hearts and souls on the stages of 21 venues all up and down Beale. It’s been a crazy packed amazing week and more talent down here than one could imagine or absorb. Every musician who came here is a winner. OUR winners. The Orpheum was packed full all day long of musicians supporting each other, fans, and competitors. It’s done… it’s over, except for some jamming still going on… and another adventurous week for the books… so if you’ve not heard yet… from the 33rd International Blues Challenge these are the winning finalists.

1st Place – Dawn Tyler Watson – The Montreal Blues Society
2nd Place – The Souliz Band featuring Sugar and Spice – Suncoast Blues Society
3rd Place – Rae Gordon & the Backseat Drivers – Cascade Blues Association

All female fronted… which I don’t think has ever happened (I could be wrong here)

1st Place – Al Hill – Nashville Blues Society
2nd Place – Brody Buster’s One Man Band – Kansas City Blues Society

Best Instrumentalists:
Ben Racine – The Montreal Blues Society

Best Guitar – Band:
Al Hill – Nashville Blues Society

Best Guitar – Solo:
Brody Buster – Kansas City Blues Society

Best Self-Produced CD
JW Jones, High Temperature – Ottawa Blues Society

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Denver Professor Martin Kuuskman Nominated For Grammy

DENVER (CBS4) – The 59th Annual Grammy Awards are around the corner and a professor at the University of Denver is among those nominated for the music industry’s most prestigious award.

“It’s a huge honor,” Martin Kuuskmann, professor and bassoonist for the Lamont School of Music, told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann.

Kuuskmann is a world-renowned bassoonist from Estonia and one of today’s leading solo instrumentalists. He has collaborated with composers all around the world and performed in a number of the world’s leading orchestras.

An arrangement he recently recorded is a nominee for Best Contemporary Composition and is Kuuskmann’s second Grammy nod.

“This time it’s a concerto by Christopher Theofanidis, who is a friend of mine and a professor at Yale,” Kuuskmann said.

Kuuskmann met Theofanidis while the two were attending the Yale School of Music in the 90s. For the past 20 years, the pair has perfected the bassoon concerto as Kuuskmann performed it on concert stages worldwide.

“I’ve been playing his concerto around the world, many times, including Carnegie Hall and so forth,” he said. “[Theofanidis] wrote it. I played it, brought it alive and poured my heart and soul into it.”

It was only recently that Theofanidis and Kuuskmann decided to record the bassoon concerto, ultimately earning the Grammy nomination.

“I don’t underestimate the magnitude of Grammys at all,” Kuuskmann said. “It’s huge to be nominated.”

This weekend, Kuuskmann will find out if his hard work will bring home a Grammy win. However, even if it does, his name will not be listed on the gold award because the nomination is for composition, not performer.

“It’s great just to be amongst there,” he said of being part of the nominated work. “One day though.”

The Grammy Awards air this Sunday, Feb. 12, on CBS4.

Kuuskmann is performing in a concert that same weekend in Germany, so he will not be attending the awards ceremony. Instead, he will be crossing his fingers from abroad.

By Kelly Werthmann
Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team in 2012 as the morning reporter, covering national stories like the Aurora Theater Shooting and devastating Colorado wildfires. She now anchors CBS4 Weekend Morning News and reports during the week. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @KellyCBS4.

Original article contains lots of photos and a video of Mr. Kuuskmann performing:

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California Choral Director Awarded Grammy Music Educator of the Year

Chosen from more than 3,300 nominees, the winner of the Grammy Music Educator of the Year presented by The Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation is Keith Hancock. He is the creative force behind the choral program at Tesoro High School in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, reports CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller.

Affectionately called “Mr. H” by his students, Hancock tells CBS News that along with the music, there’s a message for all these young minds to absorb.

“It’s family, it’s love, it’s pain, it’s human experience. The music that we sing ranges from the ecstasy and the joy of life to the deep pain and sorrow that we experience… but knowing how to live life through the midst of all that is really, you know, important,” he said.

For 15 years this music man has been translating songs sung in 26 different languages so his students understand the stories behind the music.

“We have the beautiful ability as choral musicians to have the great texts, some of the best poems that have ever been written, and we take these and I find a way for the students to connect it to their own lives,” Hancock said.

When Hancock, who as a teen discovered his passion in music through choir, first launched his program in 2002, he had just 35 students. Today, he leads 225.

“Would you say that Mr. Hancock is what made high school for you?” Miller asked former students, Connor Spencer and Erin Theodorakis.

“100 percent,” Theodorakis said.

“Yeah,” Spencer said. “I mean every lunch I ate in the choir room.”

Spencer and Theodorakis are among close to 1,000 former students who are still in touch with Hancock.

“He connects on a personal level with everyone, every single one of his students,” Spencer said.

“I got such an amazing musical experience in his classes that it inspired me to go on and do what he does. So I want to become a choir teacher someday,” Theodorakis said.

“Sounds like what he does is, through choir, he brings life into context,” Miller said.

“Absolutely,” Spencer replied.

“Totally. It makes music so important,” Theodorakis said.

Along with giving students a deep understanding of music, Hancock hands out a list of life lessons, something he calls “Hancock’s Laws.” These include “live your life with passion” and “don’t put anything on your credit card that you can’t pay off in a month.”

“I went into teaching, thinking that it was all about the music. And I quickly realized after that, that music is just an avenue to teach them how to live their lives,” Hancock said.

Read the whole article!
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CBS News February 8, 2017

Original article contains video and photos:

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