• Baylor music prof nominated for Grammy for album honoring Holocaust victim

    Yet another Bear can add “Grammy nominee” to his resume. This time, it’s Dr. Brian A. Schmidt, associate professor of choral music, who is nominated this year for Best Choral Performance for the 2016 album Tyberg: Masses.

    Schmidt and the South Dakota Chorale (of which he is founder and artistic director) garnered a total of four nominations for the recording. The album is a performance of the long-lost pieces of Marcel Tyberg, a composer of symphonies, choral music, piano sonatas, chamber pieces and other works in the neo-Romantic style. Tyberg was also a practicing Catholic in 1940s Austria, with 1/16th Jewish heritage — enough to lead to his arrest by the Nazi Gestapo and his internment in the infamous Auschwitz death camp.

    Just days before he was taken, Tyberg sensed his arrest was imminent and assembled a group of his friends in a local church where they performed some of the composer’s works. He then entrusted his manuscripts to a physician friend, Dr. Milan Mihich. Mihich later passed the music to his son, Enrico, who moved to Buffalo, New York. Tyberg’s scores came with him and were storied safely in his basement for decades.

    Before his passing in 2016, Enrico Mihich sought ways to bring Tyberg’s work to light. Some of Tyberg’s orchestral, chamber and piano works have gained a following over the past decade, but his sacred compositions — two Catholic masses — remained unexplored until a colleague brought them to Schmidt’s attention.

    “I’ve always been interested in giving voice to unsung heroes of the past and present,” Schmidt says. “I like performing the music of composers that are rarely heard or unknown, but Tyberg’s story and music felt more like a calling. Once I knew about him and played through the music, I felt compelled to give his music life.”

    Whether or not Dr. Schmidt brings home that gold Gramophone trophy, we’re proud of how he and and the South Dakota Chorale have given Tyberg a voice again. Tyberg: Masses can be sampled and purchased from Amazon.

    Sic ’em, Dr. Schmidt!

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