Last month’s Grammy ceremony was a particularly special event for one PCC instructor since she contributed to a now award-winning album.
Alison Bjorkedal, who teaches music appreciation, played an ancient Greek instrument called a kithara on the album “Plectra and Percussion Dances” for the ensemble Partch, named after American composer Harry Partch. Partch, the composer, was known for writing microtonal music and the development of a 43 note-per-octave scale.
“Plectra and Percussion Dances” itself is an homage to Partch, as all the music performed was written by Partch himself.
“The album is a set of three dances cycles: “Castor and Pollux,” “Ring Around the Moon,” and “Even Wild Horses,” said Bjorkedal. “These pieces had not been performed as a cycle since Harry Partch himself directed them in 1953.”
Additionally, the album includes a seven minute introduction by the composer to give some insight about the pieces.
The ensemble performed the pieces at the REDCAT theater in Los Angeles in June 2013 before booking the venue for two days to record the album. Yet the morning before the first performance was a bit unusual; an important wooden piece of Bjorkedal’s kithara was separated from the rest of the instrument. With luck on her side, the person that replicated the kithara just so happened to be in town and was able to fix the issue.
“For that album, I was playing on an instrument that was being held together by fresh glue and wooden clamps,” she said.
The category that the album was nominated for, and eventually won, was “Best Classical Compendium,” a fairly recent addition that was first awarded in 2013, according to the Grammy website. The selection “Castor and Pollux” off the album was also nominated for “Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance,” however the track did not win.
For Bjorkedal, this was her first time attending the award ceremony, and a surprising first attendance it was.
“My attitude was to attend and enjoy all the day had to offer,” she said. “I had no expectation that we would win in either of our categories, so when they called our name, I was stunned.”