Tampa, Florida - Some professional musicians never earn a Grammy nomination, but a group of USF students are one step away from winning the prestigious music award.
"This is absolutely an honor to be nominated," says a chorus student John Short.
The journey to the Grammys started in May. It's the kind of opportunity music students wish for but rarely get: working alongside professional singers.
In May, the Miami-based chamber choir Seraphic Fire teamed up with USF's Professional Choir Institute for two weeks of rehearsals, followed by a recording.
"It was Brahms: Ein Deutsch Requiem, Op. 45 the London version... it's four hand piano, where two people sitting on the piano are playing along. It's a little more intimate," says Short.
During week one, 10 USF students and two faculty members rehearsed.
"These people came self-motivated, so it was fun to work with. Students that brought their own energy to the project. All we had to do was polish the stone, harness the energy and focus them," says Brad Diamond, Chair Voice Department at USF.
For week two, Seraphic Fire singers stepped in for hours of practice with students.
"Just to stand next to the singers from Seraphic Fire, to hear the adjustments they are making, watch the markings they are making... it makes you perform at a level you didn't know was possible," says Brett Karlin, main artistic administrator for PCI and assistant chorus master for the project.
USF's faculty member and Seraphic Fire chorus master James Bass brought the two groups together. The recording took place at USF's new concert hall, described as one of the most acoustically advanced concert halls in the region.
"It's a perfect acoustic recording environment," says Brad.
Two days were spent recording and in the end, everyone knew they had experienced something special.
"People knew even down to the professional singers what we did was high level. There's a feeling, there's an energy about a successful musical moment. We knew we had something really good, but we didn't know how good," says Brad.
Good enough for a Grammy nomination for Best Choral Performance. The CD's Grammy-winning producer, Peter Rutenberg, is also nominated for Producer of the Year in the classical music category. The professional group Seraphic Fire is also nominated for its Christmas CD.
"Believe me, some of the biggest choral names are nominated this year and to be counted among that is a fantastic feeling," says John.
The students will have to wait a bit to find out if they've won. The Grammys will be held February 12 on CBS.