Gustavo Dudamel and L.A. Phil win a Grammy for Andrew Norman’s ‘Sustain’

Gustavo Dudamel conducts the L.A. Phil through a repeat performance of Andrew Norman’s “Sustain” at Walt Disney Concert Hall in November.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic won the Grammy Award for orchestral performance on Sunday for their recording of composer Andrew Norman’s “Sustain.”

“Andrew Norman is an extraordinary talent and vital member of our L.A. Phil family,” Dudamel said in a company announcement Sunday night. “And we are all so proud to have been able to commission, premiere and record this magnificent work of his.”

“Sustain” had its world premiere in October 2018 at Walt Disney Concert Hall. The work was recorded in partnership with Deutsche Grammophon to celebrate the orchestra’s historic centennial season.


Times music critic Mark Swed called “Sustain” the best piece of new music in 2018, writing in his review of the premiere that Norman had delivered “a near out-of-body acoustic experience.” After a repeat performance in 2019, Swed noted how well “Sustain” held up over time.

“Waves of string constellations rise and fall, interrupted by suppurating winds and consoled by brass chords,” he wrote. “Everything is staggered. On paper, this is a riot of intersecting patterns that look like ant colonies on the move or seeds scattering in the wind.”

“Sustain” is about Norman’s — and the audience’s — relation to Earth, Swed wrote. “He credits sadness and loss in the music to this critical moment in history when we are not doing enough to sustain our planet.”

In winning the Grammy, the L.A. Phil beat out other nominees: Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra with conductor Manfred Honeck; Detroit Symphony Orchestra with conductor Leonard Slatkin; Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra with conductor Louis Langrée; and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & Kremerata Baltica with conductor Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla (formerly associate conductor at the L.A. Phil).

“Sustain” represents the second Grammy for Dudamel, the L.A. Phil’s music and artistic director. In 2012 Dudamel won his first Grammy for leading the L.A. Phil recording of Brahms’ Fourth Symphony.

Earlier this month, the L.A. Phil announced it was extending Dudamel’s contract through the 2025-26 season.