Camerata Singers’ James Bass wins his first Grammy

James K. Bass, artistic director of Long Beach Camerata Singers, was sitting outside, near the back of a West Hollywood restaurant, noonish, when the six-time Grammy nominee found out he’d just become a first-time winner.

Bass won for Best Choral Performance for his work with the UCLA Chamber Choir, of which he is director, and JoAnn Falletta, music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic, in performance of Richard Danielpour’s “The Passion of Yeshua.”

This marked the third year that Bass had been nominated, garnering three this year to go along with two in 2012 and one in 2016. Still, he said something like this never gets old, admitting that he “was probably shaking for an hour,” when he received news about this year’s nominations.

Of course, one thing that is new this year is that nominees couldn’t be present to listen to their names being read or pick up their trophies. So, Bass joined Camerata Singers President Jan Hower and several friends at Nora in West Hollywood to listen to the Grammy “pre-show” that traditionally announces awards for classical music.

“[James] brought a little speaker with him and we were listening and when we heard ‘And the Grammy goes to Joanne Faletta …’ we didn’t wait because we knew the next name was going to be James! We just started shouting ‘He just won a Grammy! He just won a Grammy!’” said Hower, describing what can only be termed a quintessentially LA moment. “Everyone in the restaurant was cheering and [the restaurant staff] brought us champagne. We might have gotten a little tipsy. It was wonderful.”

The award also had a quintessentially Long Beach feel to it given not only that Bass directs Camerata, but that Felletta is a former music director of the Long Beach Symphony. What’s more, composer Danielpour and Bass will collaborate in November on a piece promoting reconciliation with words provided by former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove.

And though it’s just an honor to be nominated, and though it’s nice to win in any category, Sunday’s win was especially sweet for Bass since he will actually get to take one of the trophies home. Though literally hundreds worked on the project, just a few were actually mentioned in the nomination and Bass was one of them. So, one of the trophies will go to UCLA, another goes to Bass who has given no indication yet where intends to display it.

He’ll have time to think about it. Each Grammy is inscribed by one person, so Bass will have to wait about six weeks to receive his.

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Steve Lowery began his journalism career at the Los Angeles Times, where he planned to spend his entire career. God, as usual, laughed at his plans and he has since written for the short-lived sports publication The National, the L.A. Daily News, the Press-Telegram, New Times LA, the District and the OC Weekly. He is the Arts & Culture Editor for the Post, overseeing the Hi-lo.
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