Now, the classically-trained guitarist and composer is being recognized among the highest ranks of the recording industry. He recently earned a spot on the first-round ballot for the 2016 Grammy Awards for his album “The Four Seasons for Guitar."
Released in November 2014, the recording includes all original compositions for solo guitar and a duo for guitar and soprano voice. The title comes from a suite of four pieces – “A Winter Afternoon,” “A Song for Spring,” “Summer Groove,” and “Fall Reflection” –
composed on a commission for new works that are featured in Mel Bay’s Contemporary Anthology of Solo Guitar Music. Each ‘season’ is depicted in musical moods that range from introspective to exuberant, with melodic themes, dance rhythms and expressive melodies.
Husband and wife collaborate
The recording features Dr. Lentini on solo guitar and in a duo performance with his wife, soprano singer Dana Lentini. The duo, titled “Mother Songs,” is a four-piece tribute to the work of American poet Kathleen Fraser and is entered in the category of Contemporary Classical Composition. The album is entered in the classical categories of Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance, and Contemporary Classical Composition.
“It is a joy to have these pieces recorded, as I’ve been performing ‘The Four Seasons for Guitar’ for many audiences over the past few years, and I always get a great response,” said Dr. Lentini, adding that he is especially proud to perform with his wife on the album.
“We’ve performed as a duo for guitar and voice from New York to Rome, and ‘Mother Songs’ is a special work for us,” Dr. Lentini said. “While it’s a long road to being nominated and to win a Grammy, getting on the ballot is the important first step, so we are thrilled to be there.”
Dr. Lentini’s work also appeared on the Grammy ballot in 2010 for a chamber music recording, released on the Naxos label.
|The album cover for "The Four Seasons for Guitar."
In addition to the title track and “Mother Songs,” the recording includes “Pacific Sunrise,” an original composition commissioned by Italian guitarist Roberto Fabbri, who performed at OU last May.
As a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), Dr. Lentini has been a voting member of the Grammy Awards for 15 years. Only NARAS members and recording companies are eligible to submit recordings released within the past year.
Submissions are reviewed by more than 150 experts in various fields to ensure that entered recordings meet specific qualifications and have been placed in appropriate fields such as Rock, R&B, Jazz, Country, Gospel, New Age, Rap, Classical and Latin, among others. Selections that move past the first round go to a final ballot to determine the 2016 Grammy Award winners. First-round ballots are due on November 4.
Music at OU and beyond
Since coming to OU, Dr. Lentini has performed and composed for campus audiences and beyond. In 2014, he performed with guitarist Celino Romero as part of the Chamber Music Society of Detroit at Oakland University series and also composed the piece “Ulysses’ Sail” for the dedication of OU’s 49-bell carillon tower.
In addition, Dr. Lentini’s works have been performed by solo artist William Kansengiser and recorded by ensembles including the Krakow Philharmonic Orchestra, Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra, the St. Clair Trio and members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
He has earned numerous awards in the field, including first prize in the Choral Composition Contest at Bluffton College, the Andrés Segovia International Composition Award, a Visiting Artist Residency Composition at the American Academy in Rome, and the ASCAP Standard Panel Award from 1991-2015. Dr. Lentini is also a recipient of the Career Achievement in the Field of Music from Wayne State University, where he earned his undergraduate degree and served as the chair of the music department.
For more on Dr. Lentini’s work, visit jameslentini.net. Listen to his music at soundcloud.com.