Mount Prospect native Jory Vinikour's passion for classical music has taken him to Paris and all around the world, but he never harbored any expectations that his mastery of the harpsichord would one day land him at the Grammy Awards.
But that day arrived Wednesday, when it was announced that his recording "The Complete Harpsichord Works of Rameau (Sono Luminas)" was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Classical Instrumental Solo category.
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"Total surprise," the 49-year-old said Thursday from a Basel, Switzerland, hotel room Thursday while on tour. "Absolute total surprise. A delight, of course!"
Vinikour said the honor is not only a first for him but highly unusual for a harpsichord recording.
He considers Jean-Philippe Rameau, a French composer who lived from 1683 to 1764, to be one of the great Baroque composers.
Vinikour said he didn't set out to attract attention with the recording by breaking new ground musically or overlaying his own creativity on top of Rameau's.
"I'm trying to interpret the composer's work as faithfully as possible," he said. "It's wonderful music."
Vinikour grew up in Mount Prospect, attending Forest View Elementary, Holmes Junior High and then Forest View High School until the end of his junior year.
By his senior year, his musical skills and career ambitions were so clear that he transferred to the private North Shore Country Day School in Winnetka.
"He knew what was going to happen," said his sister, Sharon Neff, of Prospect Heights.
The siblings' mother passed away when they were young, but their father's love for music became infectious. Though the whole household took piano lessons, it soon became clear that Jory was especially gifted -- able to play anything accurately after hearing it once, Neff said.
Their father became an advocate of Jory's music career, helping him to study in Baltimore and New York before he finally went off to Paris -- his home base since 1990.
"Unfortunately, our dad passed four years ago," Neff said. "Obviously, (Jory) would have loved my dad to experience this."
Family and friends spent Thursday celebrating the unanticipated recognition. No one was sitting and watching for his name, but Facebook has been a great way of spreading the news to everyone, Vinikour said.
Now, on both sides of the Atlantic, the family has begun counting down to the Feb. 10 awards ceremony in Los Angeles.
"I told him he'd better get me a ticket," Neff laughed.