SMWC music professor part of choral group, GRAMMY nomination

January 20th, 2015 | SMWC


Michael Boswell, associate professor of music and director of choirs at SMWC, collaborated with Conspirare on the GRAMMY nominated album, “The Sacred Spirit of Russia.”

To be nominated for a GRAMMY Award is something that very few people can cross off their bucket list. But you can now count Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) Associate Professor of Music and Director of Choirs Michael Boswell as one of those people. Boswell sang with Conspirare, a professional choral organization in Austin, Texas, on their album, “The Sacred Spirit of Russia,” which was recently nominated for “Best Choral Performance.”

This album was Boswell’s first project with Conspirare. He recounted how several earlier opportunities didn’t align with his schedule and conflicted with other professional engagements, yet he had wanted to sing with them for some time.

In January 2013, Boswell and his wife were driving home one evening when he mentioned to her that he should contact them to keep him in mind for future projects. As providence would have it, when they arrived home that evening, there was a message on his answering machine from Conspirare inviting Boswell to join the project, “The Sacred Spirit of Russia.”

“Though I had not sung with Conspirare before, I had sung with most of its singers through my work with other choral organizations, and when I saw the roster of singers, I knew this would be a special project,” states Boswell.

As the title states, the album is fully comprised of sacred music of Russia and is entirely a cappella.

“I have sung in Russian many times so that wasn’t a concern,” states Boswell. “But they also brought in Dr. Vladimir Morosan, an expert in Russian choral music and Orthodox liturgical music, so I knew it would be an extremely authentic portrayal of this music.”


Submitted Photo: Michael Boswell (far right), associate professor of music and director of choirs at SMWC, with the professional choral organization in Austin, Texas, Conspirare, conducted by Craig Hella Johnson.

When Boswell learned he would join Conspirare on this album, he knew it would be a positive experience both personally and professionally. He was especially excited to work with the conductor and artistic director of Conspirare, Craig Hella Johnson, but was not aware how that collaboration would impact his role as a music professor.

“It's difficult to put into words, but Craig just has a way of getting to the heart of a piece of music – any piece of music – and bringing that out in his singers,” states Boswell. “I think he helps us cut through all the extra stuff of life we each bring into our singing and helps us collectively get back to the pure joy of making music, in an organized, trained, and highly aware way, of course.

Boswell says his time with the group impacted his musical perspective, which he was able to bring back to The Woods.

“When I returned, I was much more relaxed, yet more efficient. My teaching changed, and that's one way my students benefit from my going and working on projects like this,” states Boswell.

Conspirare will compete against four other nominees in the “Best Choral Performance” category, including the BBC Orchestra and Chorus.

“As one would imagine, the competition is very strong,” states Boswell. “It is awarded by peers in the arts, not by sales and charts.”

The results will be announced on Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015. Although the “Best Choral Performance” category will not be aired on the CBS broadcast, which generally only features popular music, the results are expected to be live-streamed on www.grammy.com earlier that day. 

Comment on this article

This story has been moved to the archive and comments have now been disabled.