NACOGDOCHES, Texas – Three Stephen F. Austin State University School of Music alumni are part of Grammy Award-winning ensembles following the 62nd annual Grammy Awards presented Sunday night in Los Angeles, California.
Kelli Mikeska Lawless, ’02, and Kammi Mikeska Estelle, ’02, are members of the Houston Chamber Choir whose voices are heard on the Grammy Award-winning Best Choral Performance by the elite Houston Chamber Choir for “Duruflé: Complete Choral Works” with Robert Simpson, conductor (Ken Cowan, organist, Houston Chamber Choir). It is a performance of music by 20th century French composer Maurice Duruflé.
Describing the recording as “a labor of love,” Artistic Director Simpson said, “We are deeply honored, and I want to congratulate my fellow nominees. They have inspired me and our entire field.
“I am honored to accept this award on behalf of musicians of the Houston Chamber Choir. I also accept the award on behalf of the city of Houston, one of the real artistic capitals of our country.” He also thanked “those who joined us on the journey.”
Led by Simpson, the Houston Chamber Choir is composed of 25 professional singers, most of whom have studied at the top music schools and conservatories in the United States including Julliard, New England Conservatory, University of Houston and the University of Texas. The musicians are selected through rigorous auditions, according to information at https://houstonchamberchoir.org. SFA music alumnus Joshua Chavira, ’16 and ’18, is a newer member of the choir.
Tynan Davis, ’02, mezzo soprano, sang the role of Rita the Rat in “Tobias Picker: Fantastic Mr. Fox,” which garnered Best Opera Recording with Gil Rose, conductor; John Brancy, Andrew Craig Brown, Gabriel Preisser, Krista River & Edwin Vega; Gil Rose, producer (Boston Modern Orchestra Project; Boston Children’s Chorus).
In another SFA-Grammy Awards connection, award winner Lizzo often gives credit to her Elsik High School band director, SFA graduate Manuel Gonzales, ’92, for inspiring her deep love of music. The singer, rapper and actress, whose name is Melissa Viviane Jefferson, was born in Detroit but later moved to Houston where she attended the Alief ISD school and began playing flute in Gonzales’ Elsik High School Band.