No 'W' in GRAMMY

The School of Music’s Professional Choral Institute collaboration with Seraphic Fire doesn't pull down a GRAMMY for its performance.


By Barbara Melendez

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Feb. 12, 2012) – Weeks of anticipation came to an end Sunday, with the winner of the GRAMMY for Best Coral Performance going to "Light & Gold" and not the Green and Gold at USF.


James Bass, director of Choral Studies in the University of South Florida School of Music and artistic director of the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay spent the weekend with his family in Los Angeles – which was overrun with fellow musicians – to attend the GRAMMY Awards.


Their first CD produced by the less-than-one-year-old Professional Choral Institute was nominated for Best Choral Performance.


The Professional Choral Institute is a professional two-week long intensive program held at USF. The collaboration between USF’s College of The Arts and Miami-based Seraphic Fire was nominated for a GRAMMY in November.


Despite the outcome, they were thrilled with their debut.


“We are the only chorus in America nominated for this tremendous honor,” said Bass about the institute’s singers’ performance of Brahms’ German Requiem.


(View previous story with slideshow here.)


At breakfast on Friday morning, Bass noticed members of the band Chicago and members of Bret Michaels’ band nearby. He’s spending the rest of the day sightseeing with his family but on Saturday and Sunday, it’s almost non-stop celebrating. 


There will be a nominee reception where medals will be given out – an all-day affair that lasts from noon until 9 p.m. on Saturday. Then the awards in the classical music categories will be announced Sunday. Fans can watch the live stream at the GRAMMY site – – between 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Pacific Time (6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Eastern) to get the results as they happen.  In fact, the live streaming has already begun.


“It’s pretty amazing,” Bass said about being part of the scene. “In our category we’re with the rock stars of classical music and it just shows that it doesn’t matter if you’re one of the big guys or one of the little guys, you still have a chance to win. It’s exciting and humbling at the same time.”


Two USF professors sang on the CD – Bass and Brad Diamond, assistant professor of voice – along with nine USF students among the 30 voices. Bass served as choral master for this production.


Diamond and Bass designed the institute, which had its first session last May, to prepare singers to break into the growing and very competitive field of professional choral singing. The nation’s top graduates of conservatories and university music programs compete for spots that allow them to work side-by-side with the professional musicians of Seraphic Fire. This year it runs from June 9 to 23. Applications are due March 15. For more information, visit:  Applicants will be notified of their acceptance status by April 15. 


Barbara Melendez can be reached at 813-974-4563.