Historians can now etch Alison Bjorkedal’s name next to those of the talented musicians who have taken home the music industry’s most hallowed prize.
Bjorkedal, an adjunct instructor at Pasadena City College, and her ensemble Partch won a Grammy Award on Sunday for their album Plectra & Percussion Dances in the classical compendium category.
Album producer John Schneider and members of the Los Angeles-based percussion group received the trophy at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards Premiere Ceremony held at the Nokia Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles.
“My fiancé was taking a video during the announcement and in it, my jaw literally drops,” said Bjorkedal, who teaches music appreciation at PCC. “The category was full of amazing, deserving albums and it was an incredible honor to even be included with the other compendiums.”
The Grammy Award was the first for Partch. In 2012, the group was nominated in the same category for its album Bitter Music. “John, our leader and the album producer, worked incredibly hard to pull everything together and to see all of his work recognized was just amazing,” Bjorkedal said.
Formed in 2005, Partch took its name from American composer and instrument creator Harry Partch. The ensemble specializes in the music and instruments of Partch, whose unique style calls for a 43-note scale as opposed to the traditional 12-note classical scale.
A highly sought-after harpist, Bjorkedal plays the Kithara, a 72-stringed instrument the composer loosely based on the ancient Greek instrument of the same name.
“For me, the win validates the work of Harry Partch, who was a visionary in the way he approached music,” she said.
Bjorkedal joined the group in 2012, around the same time she started teaching at PCC.
“I am very proud of Alison and her Grammy Award,” said Jim Arnwine, dean of the PCC School of Visual, Media and Performing Arts. “We have wonderful instructors throughout the school in all our fields, but it is wonderful when one is recognized in such a prominent way.
“I have known Alison as a fine harpist who plays professionally in a number of major orchestras. She demonstrates the harp for her music appreciation students and they come away very impressed. They speak highly of her,” Arnwine added.
Born and raised in Kennewick, Wash., Bjorkedal earned her master’s and doctorate of Musical Arts degree in harp performance from the USC Thornton School of Music. A freelance musician, Bjorkedal is a member of Southwest Chamber Music, Golden State Pops Orchestra and MUSE/IQUE. She has also performed with the San Diego Symphony, Pasadena Symphony/Pops Orchestra, Long Beach Symphony, and Long Beach Opera.
For more information about Partch, visit http://partch.la.