The Grammy Award for Best Modern Classical Composition is given to composers for outstanding works of contemporary classical music at the Grammy Awards, which began in 1958 and were formerly known as the Gramophone Awards.

The National Academy of Music Arts and Sciences of the United States presents awards in numerous categories at the event each year to “celebrate creative achievement, technical skill, and overall excellence in the recording business, regardless of album sales or chart position.”

Who Won Best Contemporary Classical Composition?

At the 2022 Grammys, Caroline Shaw won the Best Contemporary Classical Composition for Narrow Sea.

Caroline Shaw’s technique to ocean exposure is less perilous, but her most recent piece has an equally upsetting force.

Shaw uses shifting tides and centuries-old hymns as inspiration for Narrow Sea, a composition that deals with the uneasiness of feeling adrift in the cosmos.

In 2017, Shaw wrote the five-part Narrow Sea for S Percussion, a New York-based quartet that uses a wide range of rhythmic instruments.

They imitate the sounds of nautical bells, prayer chimes, bustling equipment, heartbeats, and distant drones with a variety of drums, blocks, marimbas, vibraphones, and shakers, as well as reused cans and ceramic bowls.

Even flowerpots are fair game, lending the project a charming, plunking sound. The music is enthralled by the idea of simulating the shape-shifting properties of water—notes ebb and flow.

Shaw’s piece Taxidermy, written for  Sō  Percussion in 2012, is a good counterpoint. Taxidermy uses a chopped-up fragment of T.S. Eliot’s poetry from the composer’s Pulitzer-winning Partita for Eight Voices from 2013 to connect it with Narrow Sea.

Narrow Sea features pianist Gilbert Kalish tying S’s four-person rhythms to acclaimed soprano Dawn Upshaw’s ascending melodies.

The beautiful piano tumble that starts the third chapter of Narrow Sea is one of the piece’s most tranquil passages, creating the illusion of water in motion.