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Local Grammy Winner

Someone from Johnstown just became a Grammy award winner following Sunday night’s 63rd annual award show.

Johnstown Symphony Orchestra’s musical director, James Blachly was awarded his first Grammy. Blachly is going on his 6th season of being the musical director for the orchestra. Sunday night, he added another title, Grammy award winning composer.

“We were watching in our kitchen with my 3 year old and my wife and I. He was very interested in what was going on. It’s a little hard to try and describe to a toddler the importance of a Grammy, but we heard the news and we just started screaming, jumping up and down and hugging,” said Blachly.

The winning piece was created by Dame Ethyl Smyth, who Blachly calls one of the most important female composers in history. The recording of “The Prison” won Best Classical Solo Vocal Album. The composition was first performed on US soil right here in our region.

“What’s wonderful is to be able to bring this back to Johnstown because we premiered the piece here in 2018, so it’s a victory for the entire community,” said Blachly.

For many industries like the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra, the pandemic has put a stop to in-person performances, making this win even more memorable.

“This has been an incredibly difficult year for musicians around the world and in particular orchestral musicians. Our field really requires us to be in close proximity to each other to make music,” said Blachly. “So, this is just a bright spot in a tough year and this win is one I am so happy to bring to all of you and for us to celebrate together,” he added.

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