Newcomers blaze a trail with classical Grammy nominations

Three young musicians are making a little piece of musical history as some of the first female Grammy nominees in the classical field.

British violinist Nicola Benedetti, Lithuanian conductor Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla and Icelandic composer Hildur Gudnadottir are all nominated for the first time, highlighting their contributions to music in three different disciplines.

Nicola Benedetti, 32, is being recognised in the category of Best Classical Instrumental Solo. In addition, American Jazz musician Wynton Marsalis is nominated for Best Contemporary Classical Composition for his "Violin Concerto in D Major", written for Benedetti and on which she plays. She is the youngest ever female nominee in her category.

Speaking about her groundbreaking nomination, Benedetti said: "I think there is something particularly glamorous about the word Grammy. And no matter what your disposition is towards awards, I think that is a particularly exciting one."

In 2019 she received a CBE for services to music in the Queen's New Years Honours List and won the Best Classical Award at the Global Awards. She is expected to perform at the Grammys ceremony on Sunday (January 26)

Hildur Gudnadottir is nominated for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media for her work on HBO's television show "Chernobyl". The 37-year-old previously won an Emmy for the same title. She also took home a Golden Globe for Original Score for her soundtrack to Todd Phillips' box office smash "Joker" and subsequently received an Academy Award nod for Best Original Music Score for that film.

Discussing what her nomination means for women in the music industry, she said: "It is a great way to open up the discussion about the situation of women in the industry and I think that every milestone like this is a part of this discussion and is a part of opening it up.

"Reaching all the young girls who are watching the Oscars and you know, imagining, well, could I stand up there one day, could I do this job one day, is music perhaps something that I could see myself pursuing, and if one young girl starts writing music as a result of that then it is totally worth it."

Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla, 33, is nominated for Best Orchestral Performance for her recording of "Weinberg: Symphonies Nos. 2 and 21", performed by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Making Grammy history as the first ever female conductor nominated in that category, Grazinyte-Tyla would be the youngest female conductor to get a Grammy in any category if she were to win, according to her publisher.

Reflecting on her achievements in the industry, Grazinyte-Tyla surmised: "Where is the right balance, men, women? What do we have to do to arrive to the right one? I'm happy to be a good example for those social issues but I really want to stay focused on what I'm doing because I think this is at the end the answer."

All three women are still in their 30s and have the potential to break records at this year's Grammys. They all hoped their successes would inspire other girls to pursue a career in music.

Benedetti, who hosts regular workshops and sessions for aspiring musicians, urged girls to learn an instrument without fear of making mistakes.

She said: "My piece of advice to a young girl learning to play an instrument or wanting to go into classical music would be to balance the opposites; work really hard and do it on a daily basis because that's much easier to tackle, but at the same time, don't be nervous, don't worry about mistakes, don't let anybody tell you otherwise. Just go for it, put your whole physicality and heart and soul into playing, and if you balance those two things, you've got the best chance of doing well."

The awards will be handed out at a ceremony hosted by Alicia Keys in Los Angeles on Sunday.

(Production: Lisa Giles-Keddie)