SJU Voice Instructor Rebecca Siler and Staff Accompanist John Grecia Earn Grammy Recognition
Monday, February 19, 2018
by Gordon Kender
Each year, audiences turn on their televisions hoping that their favorite artists will be recognized for outstanding musical accomplishments during the Grammy Awards. This year, Saint Joseph’s is pleased to announce that two of its community members received a Grammy: Soprano Rebecca Siler and staff accompanist John Grecia were recognized for Best Choral Performance for their work on the album Gavin Bryars: The Fifth Century, commissioned by The Crossing, a professional chamber choir conducted by Donald Nally, and premiered with PRISM Saxophone Quartet.
“We are extremely proud of their outstanding accomplishment,” says Suzanne Sorkin, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the music, theatre and film department. “Professor Rebecca Siler has been a tremendous addition to our music program, and I have seen enormous growth in our voice students during their study with her. John Grecia is a remarkable pianist who, as an accompanist and music director, creates a dynamic and supportive environment, so that all students can excel.”
While the group received the award Jan. 28, recording for the album took place in summer 2014. “I recall the session taking place over two very long days, maybe six or seven hours of recording each day,” says Grecia. Those long days were amplified by the recent passing of The Crossing’s co-founder and integral member, Jeffrey Dinsmore, who died suddenly while the group was in studio for a separate project in Los Angeles.
“Putting it together was an emotionally charged experience, but there is something special about wanting to honor a legacy. We’re certainly proud and think the whole album is lovely,” says Siler, one of the group’s founding members and vocalists, and Dinsmore’s life-partner.
The accomplishment goes beyond recognition of a job well-done, putting The Crossing in an international spotlight. “With a choir such as this that performs only new music, it’s a validation that what we’re doing is meaningful and important in the world of choral music,” says Grecia.
“There is such a swirl of joy, disbelief, a little sorrow at the loss of Jeff, and a renewed sense of motivation,” says Siler, who is an Opera Philadelphia chorus member and participates in other professional ensembles.
Grecia plays piano accompaniment at Saint Joseph’s University for the University Singers as well as the two voice studios in the Department of Music, Theatre and Film. He is currently the music director for the Saint Joseph’s Theatre Company’s April production of Songs for a New World. He directs the choir at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Ardmore and at Thomas Jefferson University, and is an accompanist at the Overbrook School for the Blind.