Local professor nominated for two Grammys
Vocalist » Westminster English professor Christopher LeCluyse is a Renaissance man.
Salt Lake Tribune
February, 4 2009
By David Burger
Westminster Professor Christopher LeCluyse is nominated for two Grammys for his work in the choir Conspirare. The Grammys will be held Feb. 8, 2009.
Christopher LeCluyse is a tenor-ed professor. Yes, you read that right.
The English professor at Westminster College is an accomplished tenor. LeCluyse's choir, Conspirare, is nominated for two Grammy awards, to be awarded Sunday night in Los Angeles.
The Austin-based choir is nominated for Best Choral Performance and Best Classical Album for "Threshold of Night," recorded last October at the Troy Saving Bank Music Hall in New York state.
"[The nominations are] gratifying, especially for Best Classical Album," said LeCluyse, who has taught at the Salt Lake City liberal-arts college since 2006.
LeCluyse is truly a Renaissance man, and not just because his singing specialties are geared toward choral and early music from the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque periods.
He began singing at 13 and attended Ohio's Oberlin College as an undergraduate, studying voice and English. While continuing to pursue professional singing on the side, LeCluyse received his master's degree and doctorate in English at the University of Texas at Austin. In Austin, he joined the professional choir Conspirare, half of whose members live out of state.
A flexible and music-loving dean at Westminster College has allowed --- even encouraged --- LeCluyse's travels for singing. "We're delighted for him. He's a multifaceted guy," said Mary Jane Chase, Arts and Sciences dean, herself a former harp player who is married to a former opera singer.
LeCluyse has been a member of Conspirare since 1995. The group received two Grammy nominations in 2007, for Best Choral Performance and Best Sound Engineering (Classical), but lost to an Estonian group, whom LeCluyse jokingly called the "bane of my existence."
Conspirare consists of nearly 50 singers and a dozen string players, but on "Threshold of Night" LeCluyse is a soloist on three songs. Fittingly -- considering his full-time day job -- his solos are based on "The Ecstasies Above," a piece that includes the Edgar Allan Poe poem "Israfel."
Craig Hella Johnson, founder and artistic director of Conspirare, commends LeCluyse for singing critical parts of the poem's text and calls him a "very intelligent" singer. "He's one of the core ensemble members," Johnson said. "He's a cherished member. I think the world of Chris, both musically and personally."
LeCluyse will not be rubbing shoulders with Lil Wayne and Taylor Swift Sunday, as he will stay in Salt Lake City with his family, which includes a 10-month-old daughter.
The classical and choral awards will be announced at a separate ceremony earlier Sunday, a Grammy spokesperson said, and will be streamed on the Web at www.grammy.com between 2 and 4:30 p.m. Mountain Standard Time. Winners will be announced on the bottom of the TV screen during the awards broadcast.
"I'll watch the telecast for the first time in years with interest," Chase said.