Since 1997, the Grammy Award for Best Small Ensemble Performance (formerly Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance) has been given. Its title used to include the phrase “(with or without a conductor)” in its early years.
Small group performances were featured in the Grammy for Best Chamber Music Performance in 1991. The category was merged with the Best Chamber Music Performance category in 2012.
The Recording Academy’s desire to reduce the number of categories and awards led to the rearrangement of these categories.
According to the Academy, “the Chamber category was merged into the Small Ensemble category, with the only difference being the number of members in the ensemble (Chamber being smaller) and the fact that Small Ensemble recordings might, but did not have to, use a conductor.” Recordings are eligible under the new framework if the ensemble has 24 or fewer musicians, not counting the conductor.
The award was renamed Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance in 2013. The prize is given to the winning group as well as its conductor (if applicable). If they worked on more than half of the album’s playing duration, the producer(s) and engineer(s) are also recognized.
Who Won Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance?
Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax won the 2022 Grammy Award for Best Small Ensemble Performance for their work on Beethoven: Cello Sonatas – Hope and Tears.