We’re super excited to share our first blog interview with a Grammy winner. Not just any GRAMMY®-winner. Danaë Xanthe Vlasse’s album MYTHOLOGIES, starring sopranos Hila Plitmann and Sangeeta Kaur, holds the honor of winning the GRAMMY®-award for BEST CLASSICAL SOLO VOCAL ALBUM! We caught up with Danaë to share her story with you.
LRW: Well, well, well. Just last August 2021, I had the honor of interviewing you about the release of your exquisite album, Mythologies. Here we are celebrating your Grammy award for that very album. Congratulations to you and your musical tribe responsible for bringing this music to light. I have goosebumps. My students have been asking questions about the Grammys. I’d like to start with their questions, if I may. First, what exactly does winning a Grammy entail?
DV: I don’t know yet what winning a Grammy will entail over the longer term but in these first few days I can say it’s caused a media frenzy for interviews, and lots of additional plays on streaming platforms, as well as some CD purchase orders! I hope this win will help galvanize invitations to come perform the music, and hopefully bring new ears to this contemporary classical repertoire which is rooted in tradition and seeking to honor my heritage! I’d love to see my music published, and performed MUCH more! I hope to receive new commissions for future work as well!
LRW: I can imagine! I’m so delighted to hear of the recognition your beautiful album is receiving and no doubt will continue to receive. Can you tell us a little more about the category in which your album won the Grammy? How did your album qualify for that category?
DV: After a project is submitted for academy consideration – with the hope of being placed on the ballot – the Recording Academy has placement committees that decide the exact category in which albums should be placed for voter consideration. This happens about 3 weeks before Round 1 voting opens. I am particularly honored by this Grammy win because the caliber of the other nominees in this category was so outstanding; among other Metropolitan Opera stars such as Will Livermann and Jamie Barton, we were in nominated alongside Joyce DiDonato, who is a true icon in the vocal world!
LRW: That’s quite a process. Wow, that’s so exciting! Did you happen to meet any of these iconic superstars?
DV: Most artists couldn’t attend the ceremony in Vegas due to concert engagements, but I did meet one of the other nominees in my category; Laura Strickling, whose album “Confessions” is simply beautiful and reflects all the warmth of Laura’s loving personality while having been engineered to perfection by the amazing team at Yarlung Records! Furthermore, all the pianists who played on all the nominated albums are IMMENSELY accomplished and deserve to be applauded with standing ovations! I’m SO HONORED to stand among such peers with whom there is so much mutual admiration!!
LRW: That’s so amazing. I agree about applauding the pianists. Here, here! I have to mention, your dress and jewelry are stunning. Would you indulge us with the fashionista report?
DV: My pleasure!
Gowns: Vera Wang & Valentino
Clutch: Alexander McQueen
Danaë Jewelry: Ming Song
“Le Serpent” Pendent and Ring: @mingsong_official @dennisssong
Brand Management: @kmgstudio
LRW: Thank you for that. Now, back to your album. By the way, how did you come to decide on entering your album for Grammy consideration? Was it one person’s idea? Did anyone object to the album being submitted?
DV: I’ve submitted prior albums to the Recording Academy many times. This was a particularly high quality project which I was excited to share with my colleagues, knowing the promotion process would help draw attention to this music across all genres. The other artists on the album, and my co-producer Emilio D. Miler were all very supportive of my decision to submit.
LRW: Good to know. So glad to hear of the group support for your decision. What challenges did you face? What is the process?
DV: The majority of the music was recorded during the Covid Pandemic, so we had plenty of setbacks; studios cancelled our bookings, and microphone deliveries were delayed! Our flutist (Wouter Kellerman, from South Africa) was stranded in Australia, so he had to remote-record, and my co-producer was stuck in Argentina so we had to do every meeting over Zoom! I also had to change labels last minute due to Covid shutting down the offices of the label with which I thought I would release this project. Our release was further delayed because I had a lengthy recovery (2 months of migraines) from my Covid vaccine. So the whole team really had to be patient and supportive as we faced one challenge after another. However, I prize the friendship in this team above all else and I believe that love shone through in the music! As my beloved soul-sister Sangeeta Kaur said when she spoke on stage during her acceptance speech, “This album was made from friendship and LOVE!”
LRW: Wow! This album was determined to be made despite all else. I’m inspired by the fortitude by all involved in its creation. Before the Grammys, Sangeeta Kaur, one of the featured sopranos on the album, released a PBS Fall special, and “Penelope” from your album was featured on that show. Will you be performing pieces from Mythologies on PBS again, or other networks? If so, may my readers and I have the links so we may look forward to viewing? Thank you.
DV: The “Penelope” video is still airing on PBS nationwide and on the Front & Center Youtube Channel. The show is called “Front & Center Presents Sangeeta Kaur & Friends.”
Both our MYTHOLOGIES videos – especially the groundbreaking SIRENS (with professional mermaids) are easy to find on my website here; and on my YouTube channel.
LRW: Breathtaking videos! Thank you for sharing the links. I remember asking during your last interview if this album is part of a series of albums dedicated to Greek Mythologies rather than a standalone recording? You had mentioned a Mythologies II album is very likely. May we know if anything is in the works?
DV: Yes! I’m still focused on promotion of this current album but I’m thinking of Mythologies II for a future year!
LRW: Excellent! Now that concert halls are reopening, do you plan to perform these works live? If so, how may my students, readers and I be kept informed? Is there a mailing list we may subscribe to?
DV: Yes, I’d love nothing more than to have more concerts! All that will be announced once something is organized; it’s really hard to book venues right now. Readers may sign up for my mailing list on my CONTACT page – just CLICK the BOX at the bottom to subscribe your email.
LRW: I just subscribed! Where may my readers purchase your album? Is it also available on music streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple iTunes, etc.?
DV: The album is available on all streaming platforms. Digital downloads may be purchased at Apple Music, Band Camp, and others.
LRW: Thank you. I meant to ask, are there any actual CDs left? If so, where may they be purchased?
DV: I have only about 25 physical copies left ($25 each including shipping fees, easy to pay via Venmo or Zelle) and readers may message me here to order a copy directly from me and request an autograph.
LRW: Very cool. It’s been a pleasure to share your story and beautiful music with my students and subscribers. I wish you all the best with this and future musical endeavors.
Wouter Kellerman, Flute
Virginie d’Avezac de Castéra, Viola
Lily Haydn, Violin
Éru Matsumoto, Cello
Danaë Xanthe Vlasse, Piano & Lyra
Robert Thies, Piano
Brendan White, Piano
Nadeem Majdalany, Percussion
Emilio D. Miler, Percussion
Producers: Danaë Xanthe Vlasse & Emilio D. Miler
Engineers: Gerhard Joost (Groove Mountain Studios & Studio Hill, Austin), Nick Tipp, Silas Brown (Legacy Sound).
Album Art: Greg Spalenka
Graphic Design: Jeff Burne
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Pastimes For a Lifetime Art and Piano School is located in Valley Glen, California. 818-766-0614. School is open Tuesday – Saturday year round, except major holidays.