Allison Reichman was checking Facebook on the morning of Dec. 5 when she first saw the announcement. Her husband, Nathaniel Reichman, had been nominated for a Grammy Award.
“I found out in a pretty modern way,” said Nathaniel Reuchman. “Everybody nominated this year found out because it was posted on (the Grammy Award’s) website. So my wife saw someone had posted it, and she came running into the room to tell me to check Facebook.”
Reichman, who was born in Santa Fe before moving as a kid to Alaska with his family, said he wasn’t that into music when he was younger. In school, he played trumpet and keyboard poorly, and he left high school a year early to attend college in Bennington, Vt., but music wasn’t his focus.
He was trying to figure out what he wanted to do when music technology began to interest him. That’s when he though of pursuing music engineering.
“I loved writing music, and meeting composers and knowing how they work,” Reichman said. “When I left I college, I had two things I could do right away. One was I had the skills to work in advertising doing sound and music for TV commercials. And then because I was a good technologist, I worked for a lot of older composers adapting to new techniques.”
He started working in advertising after college, doing scoring for commercials. Eventually, Reichman switched to doing soundtracks for televisions shows, along with some independent films and documentaries. His work can be heard on favorite kids shows like “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Bubble Guppies” and “Kirby” on Nickelodeon.
It wasn’t until 1999 that he started working with classical composer John Luther Adams. Coincidentally, Adams also lived for a number of years in Alaska and has been said to gain inspiration for his music from the state’s landscapes. But Adams and Reichman didn’t meet until they both ran into each other in New York City, where Reichman lived for 10 years before moving to Delmar.
“He wasn’t that well known at the time, but he was really ambitious,” said Reichman. “He was making music that was really difficult, and I enjoyed working with him.”
Reichman said he worked with Adams in both New York and Alaska, and the more projects they worked on together, the more responsibility Reichman would take on. Four years ago Adams wrote a piece called “Four Thousand Holes” that was inspired by the Beatles.
“That album was received really well, and it was the first time one got mainstream attention,” said Reichman.
Their latest project, “Become Ocean,” was commissioned by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. Adams worked on the piece for nearly a year before delivering it to the orchestra to be played live. In the spring, it was performed at Carnegie Hall. It was recorded, and the entire album is the just the one, 45-minute piece performed by the Seattle Symphony.
“I knew he was on to something earlier on when I saw how it was structured,” said Reichman of Adams while he was composing the piece. “Then I heard an early bootleg that was phenomenal.”
According to Reichman, the project was a risk for everyone involved, since a lot of orchestras don’t want to take the time to commission new classical music. Everyone who worked on the album took it as an honor, since time and money had to go into the piece, its recording and the promotion.
The recording was mostly mixed in the studio in Manhattan, where Reichman sometimes travels for work. He also rents space in Albany. The album was mixed in surround sound and stereo, in order for listeners to feel as if the entire orchestra is in the room with them.
“John is interested in the physical experience of being inside the music,” said Reichman.
Adams could not be reached for comment.
The project was completed at the last minute, since the label wanted the finished project the next day.
“I think something people don’t understand is classical music isn’t dead,” said Reichman. “There’s a large group of people out there writing new, contemporary pieces, and that’s very exciting.”
Adams won a Pulitzer Prize for the composition of “Become Ocean.” The album was also named one of the Top 10 Classical Albums of 2014 by NPR. It was nominated for a Grammy Award under the category Best Engineered Album, Classical. Both Reichman and a partner, Dmitriy Lipay, were nominated as engineers.
Reichman said he and his wife will travel to Los Angeles for the broadcast of the awards on Feb. 16. The couple has lived in Delmar since 2006 and have two sons in the school district.
“When people think of the Grammys, they think of the pop groups in the evening, but the awards are really broad. The whole musical world is at the Grammys, not just Beyonce,” said Reichman.
The category “Become Ocean” is in will be announced during the day, and will be streamed live online from the Nokia Theater. The CBS telecast with the more mainstream awards will be held later that night from the Staples Center.
“It’s a great excuse to have a long weekend in L.A. and be tourists,” said Reichman. “My wife bought a beautiful dress, and we’ll get dressed-up and it will be a lot fun”