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Michigan State University Artists Earn Two Latin Grammy Nominations

Artwork for the King Mangoberry CD was created by 7th and 8th grade students from Chippewa Middle School, Okemos, Mich.

“King Mangoberry” release featuring the music of Ricardo Lorenz and performances by MSU Wind Symphony garners attention from Grammy academy.

The College of Music at Michigan State University is thrilled to announce that a project created fully by artists from MSU has been nominated for two Latin Grammy Awards. King Mangoberry is a suite of music for wind symphony written by MSU professor of composition Ricardo Lorenz that has now been recognized internationally, and the connections to MSU and the surrounding community are strong.

In addition to Ricardo, this recording is performed by students in the MSU Wind Symphony, conducted by MSU professor of music Kevin Sedatole, produced by MSU assistant professor of music David Thornton, arranged by MSU music alumnus Travis Higa, and recorded locally by MSU music alumnus Sergei Kvitko.

Posing for a picture after a rehearsal in Cobb Great Hall of Wharton Center for Performing Arts, (left to right) Kevin Sedatole, conductor, Manuel Alejandro Rangel, maracas; Ricardo Lorenz, composer.

In addition, the artwork for the CD package was created by seventh and eighth grade students at Chippewa Middle School in Okemos, Michigan. It's truly a home grown project made entirely in Michigan and it's now in the epicenter of Latin music after being nominated for Best Classical Album and Best Classical Contemporary Composition for the track Pataruco. The latter features renowned maracas player Manuel Alejandro Rangel, and it's the first time in Latin Grammy history that Venezuelan maracas are in a classical music category nomination.

It's rare to receive nominations of this kind for a recording created by an academic institution.

“It’s really important to point out that if it wasn't for this collaboration, there wouldn't be a CD,” emphasizes Lorenz.

“This is something we've wanted to do for a long time,” adds Sedatole, as the duo explains the collaborative process that brought the pieces to life. MSU and its College of Music are known for their ethos that supports interdisciplinary collaboration.

On the Grammy nominations, Lorenz says “the beautiful message about this is that we're nominated by the Latin Recording Academy for a project that is mainly made in Michigan. I am so proud and so happy for the performers, these phenomenally talented students who they would never see themselves in that realm of being spotlighted by anything having to do with the Latino culture. Yet here they are and some of them, maybe this was the only connection they have to anything that's Latino. Now they are considered for an award by the most prestigious association that recognizes Latino culture.”

Sedatole describes how the College is adapting to the pandemic as “we have no undergraduate students on campus except for some of our undergrads who come into the building so they can practice. The process is very regimented and safe and follows extensive protocols. The provost has recognized that our students are unique in that way that they've got to have the capability to practice in a space that allows them to do that.

Ricardo Lorenz

“I will say that the students have just been fantastic about following the right protocols. And if someone feels like that they have been exposed, there's an immediate call that goes out and that person will quarantine. Luckily we haven't had to deal with that very much at all over the last two months.

“It's been a challenge but one that's been worth it. And the students are having to perform in different ways that may be uncomfortable for a while. But it is making them listen and communicate in a different way. I do believe once we get through all of this and things come back to quote unquote normal, that we're going to have learned a bunch from going through this procedure.

“Mainly we're going to learn how much we love to perform with each other. That's been the biggest hurdle for them to get over. We just never knew how much we missed it until now. We learn not to take things so much for granted when they're taken away from us and hopefully we'll get back to whatever normal is going to be sooner than later.”

“My admiration goes to conductors and musicians like Kevin who have made their living bringing people together and having them listen to each other in very close quarters, which is so necessary in order to make good quality music,” Lorenz says.  “I'm just very proud and very grateful that they will not stop, as it should be.

“One thing I would say that has been a benefit to me personally and something we can eventually incorporate when we do go back to making music in the way we have grown up to love it is that space is no longer a deterrent. I've been able to have these amazing workshops with students all over the country through Zoom, something that I would have not been able to because sometimes it's expensive or you can't travel. That’s not a limitation anymore.

Kevin Sedatole

“I've been part of wonderful conversations with composers that I would have never been in the same space with them if it wasn't for this new opening to technology. And another example, my son, who's a 14 year old cellist, is studying with a cellist in Georgia. He has never seen him in the same room and he has been studying with him for three months already. He's making great progress all through Zoom.

“Music is all about relationships. It's all about making relationships and bridging differences. We couldn't have had our wonderful CD if we had not brought in an artist like Manuel Rangel, who brings in a completely different culture and a different scene to music that we don't have. We wouldn't be talking to you right now about being nominated for a Latin Grammy. It's the bridging that I'm always very interested in.”

“And the experiences for the students is why we do these projects,” Sedatole says. “It's great to have a record of pieces for a particular composer, but for the students, it's all about their experience they have with composers and soloists and what they learned from that. And particularly this music, like Ricardo was saying, they wouldn't have had that experience dealing in this particular genre, if you will, and working with a soloist from another country who, in all honesty, didn't speak great English. We let the music speak for itself.

“That, for me, is probably the most important aspect of this whole journey, what the students get out of it and how they grow both musically and as people. It's great to have the CD and it's great to have all of the awards, hopefully the awards, but more importantly, it's the experience for the students.”

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