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Aurora violinist Maud Powell to receive 2014 Grammy award

<p>American violinist Maud Powell. &nbsp;| &nbsp;Photo courtesy of the Aurora Historical Society</p>

American violinist Maud Powell.  |  Photo courtesy of the Aurora Historical Society

The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences will posthumously award Aurora native and legendary violinist Maud Powell with a 2014 Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement. Read the full release below.

Legendary American Violinist Maud Powell will be honored by The Recording Academy’s GRAMMY Award for Lifetime Achievement on January 25 in Los Angeles.  This Special Merit Award is presented by vote of The Recording Academy's National Trustees to performers who, during their lifetimes, have made creative contributions of outstanding artistic significance to the field of recording. 

A pioneer recording artist, Maud Powell (1867-1920) became the first instrumentalist to record for Victor's Celebrity Artist Series (Red Seal label) in 1904.  She set a standard for violin playing that endures to this day and through her recordings, she continues to inspire musicians with her superb artistry, sound musicianship, and technical command.  Behind her technique and musicianship loomed an imposing intellect, broad humanity, and deep spirituality, which formed the substratum of her character.                                                                                                                       

Recipients are determined by a vote of their peers, music professionals who have met the qualifications to become members of The Recording Academy, he explained.  After viewing all the nominations, a Blue Ribbon committee presents a slate of finalists for approval by the Trustees. Neil Portnow, president/CEO of The Recording Academy, said "This award recognizes those who have reached the ‘pinnacle’ of artistic achievement. Maud Powell richly deserves the award."

Maud Powell is the first female instrumentalist to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award and only the fourth violinist since the GRAMMY Awards began in 1962. Twenty-three classical musicians have received this award, five of whom, including Powell, were women. Four were opera singers.  A list of past recipients of the recording industry’s most prestigious award can be found at www.Grammy.org.

Karen Shaffer, founder and president of The Maud Powell Society for Music and Education based in Brevard, NC, will accept the award in behalf of Maud Powell. She will be accompanied by Maud Powell Society board members Pamela Blevins, violinist Rachel Barton Pine, and Greg Pine. 

"The Maud Powell Society was founded in 1986 to restore Powell's remarkable legacy and this award is a confirmation that we are succeeding in fulfilling our purpose," Shaffer remarked.  Shaffer has devoted 35 years to writing Powell's biography (published 1988), reissuing her recordings, publishing her transcriptions, and speaking throughout the United States. She is a co-founder of the Maud Powell Arts Celebration in Peru, Illinois, Powell's birthplace, and spoke at the 1995 dedication of the statue of Powell that stands in Peru's city center. Shaffer is currently working on a second edition of the biography.

Powell’s recordings are available on the Naxos label: Maud Powell, The Complete Recordings 1904-17, Vols. 1-4.  Her transcriptions and music dedicated to her, along with her original cadenza for the Brahms violin concerto, were published in 2009 as Maud Powell Favorites, and can be obtained from The Maud Powell Society, now based in Brevard, NC.  Visit at www.maudpowell.org .

In recognition of Powell’s significance in America’s cultural life, Nicholas R. Brewer’s oil portrait of Maud Powell was accepted by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. in 2002.  Maud Powell has been honored by the Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame in her hometown of Aurora, Illinois, and the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra’s student “Maud Powell String Quartet” carries on her legacy.

Powell was nominated for the Lifetime Achievement Award by internationally acclaimed violinist Rachel Barton Pine and the Maud Powell Society for Music and Education.  Pine's “Tribute to Maud Powell” will appear in the 56th annual GRAMMY Awards souvenir program book.

“I like to think of Rachel as ‘the Maud Powell of our time’,” Shaffer mused.  “She is a sterling artist whose vitality and versatility is phenomenal.  She has performed innumerable concert tributes to Powell and claims her as one of her ‘violin heroes’ from whom she continually finds renewed inspiration.” 

“With Maud Powell’s upcoming sesquicentennial in 2017, we hope the Recording Academy’s award will prompt many other musicians to find their own ways to pay tribute to this ‘supreme and unforgettable artist’ who forged a path for others to follow,” Shaffer said.  The Maud Powell Society offers non-monetary support to anyone planning a tribute. “We can help enrich their presentations with photographs, programs and reviews in our archive, suggestions for programming and much more.”

“Powell played in almost every city in the United States and many in Canada and she premiered 15 violin concertos in North America, including those by Tchaikovsky,  Dvorak and Sibelius,” Shaffer continued.  “She championed contemporary American and European music, including music by women and Blacks at a time when these composers were neglected by other artists.”

The invitation-only ceremony will be held at the Ebell Theater in Los Angeles on Saturday, January 25, 2014, and a formal acknowledgment will be made during the 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards telecast, held at the Staples Center on Sunday, January 26.  The latter will be broadcast live at 8 - 11:30 p.m. ET/PT on the CBS Television Network.  For GRAMMY coverage, visit The Recording Academy's networks on Twitter and Facebook.

For more information about Maud Powell, her life and legacy, contact Karen Shaffer at 828-884-8500; kshaffer@erols.com, The Maud Powell Society for Music and Education, 68 Grandview Ave., Brevard, NC 28712.  Website: www.maudpowell.org

 

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