And the solo Grammy winner is…. who?

When the Grammys turns up a big surprise, it is usually a mark of American introspection.

The best classical instrumental solo of the past year, according to Grammy voters, was played not by Lang Lang, Daniil Trifonov, Joshua Bell, Yuja Wang or any of the expected lions. It was plucked by Jason Vieaux, a Cleveland-based guitarist whose biography reports that he has played concertos with 50 orchestras, all of them in the US, and that he records for a niche label, Azica Records.

Maybe this will be his springboard to world fame.

jason vieuax

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  • Full disclosure:

    Jason and I became friends and then roommates when we were studying at the Cleveland Institute of music in the early to mid 90’s. His infectious love for life, his sense of humor, along with his deep earnest musicality coupled with prodigious talent and intellect is truly something to behold.

    We all knew back then what the world is finding out now: he is one of the great musical artists of our time. His musicality transcends the boundaries of the classical guitar. He brings something uniquely special to his audiences that is palpable and beautiful to behold.

    I can vividly remember him waking up early often before practicing to get out his “book”. A generic black and white mead notebook where he painstakingly jotted down every single musical contact, concert series and guitar festival he ever came in contact with or heard about. He would consistently reach out and act as his own publicist and agent for years and years. He was focused.

    I remember him temporarily leaving school after winning the GFA competition to tour around the country and in Europe. I remember him playing with the Cleveland Orchestra and at the Cleveland museum of art. I remember a very elderly woman who physically struggled to come backstage so she could meet him and how she told me that she hadn’t witnessed such incredible talent and musicianship since she was a child and was taken to see Pablo Casals.

    Even back then I can remember him turning me and our other roommate onto some of the greatest non-classical and pop artists of today. He listened and appreciated everything. Whether it was Tears for Fears, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Coltrane, Pat Metheny, Ravel or Led Zeppelin, he consumed everything and saw the joy and talent in incredible music and performances. I would always laugh in my room because I could hear through the walls and he would have sometimes 5 cd’s in the carousel of his stereo playing him to sleep. All different musical genres.

    As an active engineer and producer, I’ve had the privilege of working with and hearing some of the greatest musicians in the world. It is without reservation that I rank Jason amongst the highest echelon of today’s artists and musicians. This was recently confirmed when I saw he and Julien Labro tear the roof off of Subculture in New York City a few months ago. The audience was thrilled to be there and loved every single minute of it. He makes them feel like they’re a part of something special and engages them with humor and realness.

    To be honest, after winning the GFA, becoming an Artistic Ambassador to the U.S., performing at some of the most prestigious concert series around the world, being installed as head of the classical guitar department at C.I.M. and then being asked to join the faculty at Curtis. I assumed he had indeed reached the pinnacle of success for a classical guitarist. I’ve never been more happy to have been proven wrong.

    From your lips to God’s ears: Maybe this will indeed be his springboard to world fame. I cannot think of anyone I know who deserves it more.

    Marlan Barry
    Recording Engineer/Producer
    New York

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