Sacramento State music professor Richard Savino didn't return from Los Angeles Monday with a Grammy Award for small-ensemble recording, but he certainly brought back plenty of memories.
"I got to go to Oz for a few days," Savino said about his long weekend in Tinseltown. "I sat in on the rehearsals for the Grammy show."
Although Savino didn't get to meet his boyhood hero Paul McCartney, he said, he did get to see him perform several times. He also rubbed shoulders with Jack Nicholson, Chick Corea, Glen Campbell, Hugh Hefner and a number of other luminaries.
The news of Whitney Houston's death came as Grammy nominees were feting Campbell at the Lifetime Achievement ceremony, Savino said, adding: "You could see phones lighting up as people were texted. There was a sense of sadness at the loss, but it didn't dampen the party atmosphere."
Savino lost out on the Grammy to a former graduate school classmate at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, composer and electric guitarist Steven Mackey. Mackey won for his "Lonely Motel" release, the world premiere recording of the groundbreaking music and theater work "Slide," which was performed at the 2009 Ojai Music Festival.
Savino was nominated for "The Kingdoms of Castille," which showcases him as both conductor and performer in the ensemble El Mundo, which he founded in 1999.
Of Mackey, Savino said, "Steven's an incredibly talented composer. He went to UC Davis for undergraduate and is from Marysville. It's ironic. I grew up in New York. We met at grad school. He lives in New York now, and I live here."
Also instrumental in "Slide" were the Chicago-based sextet called eighth blackbird and actor, director and singer Rinde Eckert, who was the Winter 2008 Granada Artist-in-Residence in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of California, Davis.