Two UWM professors standing in concert hall holding their musical instruments (French horn and clarinet)

Making Grammy Award-winning opera music

Summer sojourns to the Southwest give musicians like Peck School of the Arts faculty members Greg Flint and Todd Levy a chance to conduct research in a different kind of environment. Not to mention a Grammy Award-winning experience.

Flint, an associate professor of horn, and Levy, an adjunct professor of clarinet, played with the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra for its recorded performance of “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs.” It won the Grammy Award for best opera recording of 2018, marking the fourth Grammy-winning recording that Levy has participated in and the first for Flint.

Levy, the principal clarinet for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, has performed as a soloist at Carnegie Hall and the White House.

Flint has performed with orchestras around the country and is a much sought-after freelancer, having played with stars such as Ray Charles and Stevie Nicks.

Hand holding up The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs opera album
Greg Flint and Todd Levy performed on the Grammy Award-winning album "The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs."

Performing is, in and of itself, a type of research for musicians. Being exposed to different genres and environments nourishes their skills. It also enriches teaching abilities, so that professors like Levy and Flint can pass on their experiences to students. Opera is a particularly challenging and rewarding genre.

“Opera is a lesson in interconnectedness,” Flint says. “When you have singers, directors, conductors, orchestra musicians – for that whole thing to come together and work is a really special event.”

Flint and Levy return to Santa Fe each summer. At the opera, the score might require them to have a “conversation” through music with a soprano or other vocal soloist.

“I’m learning by listening – how the singer is taking time, taking a phrase and doing certain things to bring out an emotion that I can then try to do on my instrument,” Levy says. “It’s about sound.”