On The Daily: SMTD hears the applause of the Grammys

Monday, December 4, 2017 - 12:36pm

The University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance is guaranteed a Grammy win in this year’s Musical Theater Album category.

All three albums nominated in the category have something important in common — they are all connected to Music, Theatre and Dance alumni.

Ian Eisendrath, who earned his Bachelor of Music from the University in 2003, is the musical supervisor and arranger for acclaimed Broadway show “Come From Away.” Musical duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, honored at last year’s Bicentennial Commencement Ceremony, graduated in 2006 and composed and produced the original cast album for the musical “Dear Evan Hansen.” And Gavin Creel, a 1998 Bachelor of Fine Arts graduate, plays a lead role in “Hello, Dolly!” — the last show nominated for the award.

Pasek and Paul were also nominated for Best Song Written for Visual Media with their song “City of Stars” from the film “La La Land.”

All three shows were also nominated for Tony awards earlier this year, with Pasek and Paul winning the award for Best Original Score Written for Theater and Creel winning Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical.

“I want to dedicate this to the musical theatre department of the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance,” Creel said in his Tony Award acceptance speech. “My education there as a young person changed my life forever.”

Several other Music, Theatre & Dance alumni have been nominated for Grammys as well. Tenor Nicholas Phan, an Ann Arbor native and 2001 University graduate, was nominated in the Classical Solo Album category for his album “Gods & Monsters.”

The Choral Performance category also has strong Music, Theatre & Dance representation. One of the nominations, Bryars: The Fifth Century, combines the PRISM Quartet with The Crossing, a mixed choir. The PRISM quartet is made up entirely of alumni — members Matthew Levy, Zachary Shemon, Taimur Sullivan and Timothy McAllister all studied under Donald Sinta, associate professor emeritus of saxophone. The Crossing includes current doctoral student Kelly Bixby.

The 60th Grammy Awards will take place at New York City’s Madison Square Garden on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018.