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Carlos Kalmar and the Oregon Symphony Really Needed This Grammy Nomination

The COVID-19 pandemic canceled his farewell season, including his final show.

WW presents "Distant Voices," a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they're doing during quarantine.

The Grammys got Carlos Kalmar an awfully nice going-away present.

For 20 years, Kalmar has been the music director of the Oregon Symphony. At the start of 2020, the symphony announced his retirement—then watched as the COVID-19 pandemic canceled his farewell season, including his final show.

It's been a hard year. But last week brought a silver lining: Kalmar's third Grammy nomination with the symphony, for their recording of Aspects of America: Pulitzer Edition.  

He knows exactly where he was when he received the good news.

"Of course I was home," Kalmar says. "I take care of my family. I try not to meet anybody."

In this conversation with WW music editor Shannon Gormley, Kalmar discusses the nomination, the canceled shows, and what's next for a much-missed institution.