Should he go on to win the Grammy previously presented to Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and other opera icons, count on hearing a special C-U shoutout in James Blachly’s acceptance speech.
Topping Blachly’s wouldn’t-be-here-without list: UI music professor Donald Schleicher, who for two years last decade groomed the 2013 orchestra conducting grad who this week was nominated for his first Grammy — in the best solo vocal performance-classical category.
“I came to UI to study conducting with Donald Schleicher, and after conducting hundreds of pieces over the past seven years since I graduated, I have never known musical insights and conducting analysis to be wrong,” Blachly says.
"He is a man of few words, and every word counts; and in his conducting, he is a man of few gestures, and every gesture counts. The fact is, I've come to learn more from him in the years since I graduated, as I put technique to practice in the real world, than I did in the two years at Champaign-Urbana.
“Whenever I encounter a score for the first time, or begin to unravel a particularly challenging moment, or meet a new professional orchestra for the first time, I hear his voice in my head, and I remember that he has shown me the technique and tools to solve these problems and face these challenges already.”
Blachly directs Pennsylvania’s Johnstown Symphony Orchestra and New York's Experiential Orchestra. It was his work with the latter that earned him a Grammy nomination, for his recording of Dame Ethel Smyth's "The Prison."