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Two LI musical groups win Grammys

The Emerson String Quartet

The Emerson String Quartet Photo Credit: Newsday File / Andrew Eccles

Although you'd hardly know from the flashy, pop-centric three-hour-plus telecast Sunday night, two Long Island musical acts - the Emerson String Quartet and Pastor Donnie McClurkin - added to their Grammy wins.

>>>VIDEO: Watch Donnie McClurkin sing ‘Great is your Mercy’

>>>VIDEO: Watch the Emerson String Quartet perform

The Emerson String Quartet, resident ensemble of Stony Brook University, won the best chamber music performance Grammy for its "Intimate Letters," a recording released by Deutsche Grammophon in May 2009. On "Letters," the quartet - violinists Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer, violist Lawrence Dutton and cellist David Finckel - performed three expressive works by a pair of Czech composers, Leos Janacek and Bohuslav Martinu. They recorded Janacek's String Quartet No. 1 and String Quartet No. 2, plus Martinu's Three Madrigals for Violin and Viola.

"We're very gratified," said Finckel by phone from Lincoln Center Monday, where he played a Beethoven concert Sunday night and missed the Grammys. (Setzer and Dutton accepted the award in Los Angeles for the quartet.) "It's not about how many records you sell," Finckel added. "It's the vote of confidence by people in your industry."

The Emerson group's first Grammy win in 1989 was a game-changer for the quartet. "It was only our second recording," recalls Finckel, "and we were the first chamber ensemble ever to win [the Grammy for] best classical album." The collection of six Bartok quartets earned international acclaim and put the quartet very much in demand. Now, eight Grammys later, "It makes us very proud to keep being honored," Finckel says.

The Emerson, Stony Brook's resident quartet since 2002, plays several concerts a year at Staller Center and leads master classes in the university's music department. Its next concert is Thursday night at Staller's Recital Hall. The sold-out all-Czech program includes the Grammy-winning title composition "Intimate Letters," plus two Dvorak pieces.

For McClurkin, pastor of Perfecting Faith Church in Freeport, the lead up to his winning a best gospel performance Grammy was fraught with frustration. "It's the most nerve-racking thing you can go through," he said yesterday from Los Angeles.

McClurkin, who counts Beyoncé and Whitney Houston as friends, won for the song "Wait On the Lord," featuring Karen Clark Sheard, from his album "We All Are One (Live In Detroit)." "It's really the greatest honor," he said. "All the accolades shows you're not passé and still viable, and it inspires you to keep writing and recording."

The pastor won a 2003 Grammy for best contemporary gospel album for ". . . Again" and again in 2005 for best traditional gospel album for "Psalms, Hymns & Spiritual Songs."

"It never gets old," McClurkin said.

>>>VIDEO: Watch Donnie McClurkin sing ‘Great is your Mercy’

>>>VIDEO: Watch the Emerson String Quartet perform


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