Oregon musician Andy Akiho scores 3 Grammy nominations

By Prakruti Bhatt (OPB)
Nov. 17, 2023 7:27 p.m.

Hillsboro-based jazz musician Esperanza Spalding was also nominated, along with performers from Washington state, for the music industry awards to be announced in 2024

A framed picture of a gramophone against a black background hangs on what appears to be a hedge.

FILE - A view of the red carpet at the 64th annual Grammy Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena is photographed on Sunday, April 3, 2022, in Las Vegas. The 2024 Grammy nominations were announced last week.

Jordan Strauss / AP

Last week, Portland-based composer and percussionist Andy Akiho was nominated for three 2024 Grammy awards, including best classical instrumental solo for “Cylinders,” best classical compendium for “Sculptures” along with producer Sean Dixon, and best contemporary classical composition for “In That Space, At That Time.”


“It hasn’t hit me yet,” Akiho says during a Wednesday afternoon Zoom call with OPB. “Today is my first day of getting my breath back, and it’s the most I’ve thought about (the nominations).”

Akiho was in Ohio for a slate of performances with ProMusica, a chamber orchestra that has Oregon Symphony’s David Danzmayr as the music director. He says he didn’t know his nominations were announced until he saw a bunch of texts and missed calls from his friends, including Dixon, during rehearsals.

Akiho then realized that he might want to take a moment’s pause and see what was going on.

“My friend, Sean (Dixon), gave me a call,” he says. “It was good to hear it from him because we worked so hard on that album.”

Portland-based composer and percussionist Andy Akiho receives three nominations for the Grammy Awards next year.

Portland-based composer and percussionist Andy Akiho receives three nominations for the Grammy Awards next year.

Courtesy of Oregon Symphony

“Sculptures” is a nine-track album created in collaboration with Japanese American artist Jun Kaneko and co-commissioned by the Oregon Symphony.

Akiho, now a five-time Grammy nominee after his nominations for best contemporary classical composition in 2022 and 2023, says he was excited when speaking to Kaneko on the phone after the “Sculptures” nomination had been announced last Friday.

“There were a lot of moving parts, a lot of dedicated musicians, administrators and artists, and the Kaneko team. I can’t even stress how much that affected the music. … We pulled it off pretty quickly and we were able to record it well and get it out in the world.”


Related: Andy Akiho sculpts music on stage with the Oregon Symphony

Related: Harmonious: Jun Kaneko’s works spur ‘freedom of thinking’ amid Japanese garden’s tranquility

Akiho is not the only Oregon-based musician to be nominated. American bassist, singer-songwriter Esperanza Spalding, who is based in Hillsboro, also earned two Grammy nominations along with her collaborator, jazz pianist Fred Hersch. The duo’s record, “Alive At The Village Vanguard,” and song, “But Not For Me,” were respectively nominated for best jazz vocal album and best jazz performance.

A woman in a colorful outfit stands behind a podium with a bit smile on her face and gestures enthusiastically with her hands.

FILE: Esperanza Spalding reacts as she accepts the award for best jazz vocal album for "12 Little Spells" at the 62nd annual Grammy Awards on Jan. 26, 2020, in Los Angeles. The multi-year Grammy winner from Oregon has been nominated again for awards that will be announced in 2024.

Matt Sayles / AP

Spalding previously took Grammys home for “Songwrights Apothecary Lab” (best jazz vocal album in 2022) and “12 Little Spells” (best jazz vocal album in 2020) among many more. The artist will be performing at the EFG London Jazz Festival on Nov. 19 in celebration of American jazz composer Wayne Shorter.

Spalding was not immediately available for an interview with OPB.

The 66th Grammy award ceremony will take place on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, at the Arena in Los Angeles.

“We are thrilled to kick off Grammy season with this year’s diverse and genre-bending state of nominees, representing the best of their craft and an incredible year of music,” CEO Harvey Mason Jr. of Recording Academy, the organization that presents Grammy awards, said in a press release. “From breakthrough acts to legacy artists, we are amazed by all the musicians recognized for their outstanding contributions to music today.”

The upcoming Grammy ceremony will also mark the debut of three new categories — best African music performance, best alternative jazz album and best pop dance recording.

Rock band Foo Fighters, which formed in Seattle, and country music singer-songwriter Brandy Clark from Morton, Washington, were also among the musicians who were nominated this year.

SZA (with nine nominations), Phoebe Bridgers and Jon Batiste (each with seven nominations), and Taylor Swift (with six nominations) were among the artists who topped the list of nominees this year.