UPDATE: Johnstown Symphony Orchestra music director wins Grammy Award, meet-and-greet this weekend

Local News

CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — James Blachly, music director of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra and 2021 Grammy Award winner, is inviting the community to come out and celebrate the historic win this weekend.

The celebration will take place in Johnstown’s Central Park this Saturday, March 20, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., and everyone is encouraged to stop by to take pictures and chat, according to their press release.

Blachly said this is an informal event, and they’ll find other ways to continue to celebrate in the future.

“I wanted to make sure to share this moment with the community that was the very first in the U.S. to hear this amazing piece with orchestra and to do so right away while the news is still fresh,” he said.

The Johnstown Symphony Orchestra gave the U.S. premiere of Dame Ethel Smyth in April 2018, according to the release. Two years later, Blachly created the world-premiere commercial recording of the piece with his New York-based Experiential Orchestra and Chorus.

The original story can be found below:


CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — The music director of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra was nominated for “Best Classical Solo Vocal Performance” at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards, and he brought the award back home.

On Sunday night, James Blachly earned the award for his conducted recording with Experiential Orchestra and Chorus of Dame Ethel Smyth’s “The Prison,” which was originally composed in 1930.

Blachly was the first to perform the piece in the U.S. in 2018 with the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra, and he received several positive reviews from critics in articles from The Guardian, San Francisco Chronicle and Financial Times among others.

“The Prison,” which you can listen to by CLICKING HERE, is an hour-long symphony that Blachly tells the New York Times is a summary of Smyth’s career.

“It’s about love and life and loss and self-worth,” he said. “The essence of the philosophy is about freeing oneself from the shackles of self.”

It’s reported that Smyth became the first woman to have a work performed by the Metropolitan Opera, and “The Prison” was her last major piece before becoming deaf.

A deeper dive into the life of Smyth can be found at On An Overgrown Path’s interview with Blachly.

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