Smile Politely

Two Illinois alum nab Grammy nominations

Photos of 2 men with dark shirts and glasses. In the photo on the left the man seems to be conducting a choir or orchestra. The man on the right is in front of a dark background.
Donald Nally and Craig Hella Johnson

The recent announcement of the 2024 Grammy nominations brings exciting news for choral music enthusiasts and University of Illinois’s School of Music, with Donald Nally (DMA ’95, Choral Music) and Craig Hella Johnson (MM ’85, Choral Music) each securing a spot in the Best Choral Performance category. Nally, the visionary director of The Crossing, has achieved an impressive feat with his ninth consecutive Grammy nomination in this category for the album Carols After A Plague. This remarkable streak arguably positions him ahead of pop icon Taylor Swift in terms of consecutive yearly nominations. Nally’s dedication is palpable in his words, “I closed the music library many nights and walked back to my place full of questions.”

Meanwhile, Craig Hella Johnson, the founder of the acclaimed choral ensemble Conspirare, also joins this elite list of nominees. Johnson, reflecting on his influential time at the University of Illinois, credits his choral Professor Chet Alwes as a major source of inspiration. His nomination for The Singing Guitar at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards adds to his already impressive portfolio, which includes eight nominations to date and a win for the album Sacred Spirit of Russia in 2015. These nominations not only showcase the individual talents of Nally and Johnson but also underscore the University of Illinois’ significant contribution to the field of choral music, nurturing talents that achieve global recognition.

Music Editor

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