Music lecturer Jason McStoots wins opera Grammy

McStoots was part of an ensemble for the Boston Early Music Festival that won a Grammy for best opera


Jason McStoots

Department of Music lecturer and voice instructor Jason McStoots learned he had won a Grammy by refreshing his internet browser.

McStoots, a tenor vocalist, was part of an ensemble with the Boston Early Music Festival nominated for Best Opera Performance for their album "Charpentier: La Descente D'Orphée aux Enfers." The ensemble featured 15 performers, along with producers and conductors, so only a few of those involved made the trip to Los Angeles.

Instead, McStoots was supposed to be giving a recital in Troy, New York, during the Grammy Awards. But a snowstorm left him shut in at his home in Waltham and without any big plans for the awards. He was on the phone with his mother when he realized the Grammy Awards Premiere Ceremony, the pre-show gala during which many of the awards are handed out, was underway. So he hopped on his computer, refreshed a page listing winners and saw they had won.

"I screamed a little bit," he said.
As one of three voice faculty at Brandeis, McStoots gives individual voice lessons and co-teaches a course in performance techniques for vocal literature. He tours regularly and appears in some of the top opera performances around Boston. His career as a performer gives him valuable insight to be shared with his students.

"I am able in a way to give my students a very honest and fresh opinion and concrete information about what the real world is like as a performer," he said. "Most music lesson teachers have had some kind of performing career, but as a active performer I am able to convey to them what is happening right now. I am bumping up against it every day. I think that's very useful to them."

The winning recording fuses together two works by Marc-Antoine Charpentier: "La Descente d'Orphée aux Enfers," a piece that's believed to be unfinished that tells the mythical story of Orpheus' descent to hell, and "Couronne de Fleurs," which is based on writings by Molière and depicts a musical contest in tribute to Louis XIV.

McStoots performed the role Ixion in "La Descente d'Orphée aux Enfers," and Forestan in "Couronne de Fleurs." He's been a part of the early music festival for 10 years and it was the second time he had been nominated for a Grammy with the festival. It's a close knit group.

"They try to run it more like a family than a business," McStoots said. "They try to treat us as a troupe rather than a bunch of soloists. It's very beautiful and charming and makes for a nice community."

More information about  "La Descente d'Orphée aux Enfers," and the Boston Early Music Festival can be found here

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