Grammy Winner

Fairfield-Citizen-News, February 13, 2008

 Pretty amazing" is the way pianist Lisa Kaplan described winning the Grammy award for her and her five fellow musicians who comprise eighth blackbird, the classic sextet that performs mostly new works from contemporary composers.

During a break in rehearsals Monday morning in which eighth blackbird (they do not capitalize their name) prepares for a concert performance at the University of Michigan, Kaplan, a former Fairfielder whose family still lives on Valley Road, spoke of the moments when she heard the announcement of the award.

She and a group of good friends sat on a couch in Pittsburgh watching the beginning hours of the Grammy Awards Ceremony shown online late Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles. The ceremony's nationwide television broadcast began in the East at 8 p.m.

"There was a lot of screaming and yelling," said Kaplan, who noted that this was the first time that eighth blackbird had been nominated.

During the 50th Grammy Award Ceremony, eighth blackbird won Best Chamber Music Performance for its CD, titled "strange imaginary animals," released on Cedille Records. Also, the CD's producer, Judith Sherman, won Best Producer of the Year, Classical. Composer Jennifer Higdon, whose composition "Zaka" is among the six works representing five composers on the CD, had also been nominated for her composition.

In addition to Higdon, the CD includes compositions by Gordon Fitzell, Steven Mackey, David M. Gordon and Dennis DeSantis. All but Mackey's composition are world-premiere recordings.

While Kaplan and friends watched the Grammy Awards, her parents, Lorraine and Kenneth Kaplan, watched at their home

During a telephone interview following the awards Monday, Lorraine Kaplan said, "It's very exciting ... They were working very hard." She described eighth blackbird as "ambassadors of music." She added that it was a great honor for her daughter and her fellow musicians to receive an award for being "tops in their field."

During their respective interviews, both mother and daughter paid tribute to Lisa's first piano teacher, Burton Hatheway of Marne Avenue, who had given Lisa lessons beginning at age 7 and continuing until she left to attend Oberlin College and the Conservatory of Music at Oberlin in Ohio.

Living just five blocks from Hatheway's house was "the luck of the draw," said Lorraine, who praised Hatheway not only for his talent as a music teacher but also for his