The Recording Academy has placed the Rhode Island College Concert Chorus on the official ballot of this year's Grammy Awards for their virtual performance of "When I Think of You." They are being considered in two categories: Best Pop Duo or Group Performance and Best Music Video. This is the first Grammy consideration for a music performance group at RIC in the college's history.
Chorus Conductor and Professor of Music Teresa Coffman was as surprised as anyone when she heard the news. "In order to be considered for a Grammy nomination, a member of the music industry must submit your work for consideration. Apparently, someone in the industry viewed the video online and found enough artistic merit in it that they submitted it to the Recording Academy," she says.
"This is a huge honor and a major recognition for Rhode Island College," she went on. "We are a small institution and yet we have a disproportionate amount of internationally famous performing artists who graduate from here. I cannot tell you how proud I am of the hard work and talent of our students, which we have known about for decades, but that has now touched a larger audience."
Composed by Lara Farnell, with text by Sara Teasdale, "When I Think of You" was produced by Coffman and one of her students, Jack Zornado, a double major in music and film studies, who served as engineer, mixer, mastering engineer and bass section leader. Pianist was K. Michelle Beaton.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, each soprano, alto, tenor and bass videotaped themselves from home. In all, 32 choral members recorded their parts a cappella on their cellphones and then sent their recordings to Zornado, who layered their vocal tracks on top of the piano/conductor video. The final video took over 100 cumulative hours to produce and was posted online in May.
Choir member Hailey Deltano notes that this Grammy consideration is an achievement for concert choirs everywhere. "When COVID-19 first shocked the country, none of us knew where to turn," she says. "We were forced out of school, where we felt safe and inspired, and forced out of our regular routines. To be included on this Grammy ballot is not just for us, it's for choir members across the country who, like us, were ripped from rehearsal rooms but still kept the music alive in our hearts.
At a special event on Oct. 2, Coffman and her students were presented official certificates with the Grammy logo and a letter acknowledging their placement on the official Grammy ballot.
According to contest rules, the five recordings that earn the most votes in each category become Grammy nominees. Members of the Recording Academy are currently voting to determine the five nominees, which will be announced in December.
View the Concert Chorus' rendition of "When I Think of You" featured below. Coffman notes, "In chorus, we work on vocal technique, musicianship and all these other technical factors, but when it comes down to it, you don't want to hear technique. All you want to hear is the music coming through that vessel. And that is what these students have succeeded in doing."
The Rhode Island College Concert Chorus is primarily made up of students who major in music but is open to any RIC student by audition. Part of RIC's Department of Music, Theatre and Dance, the music program offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in music, music performance and music education.