Dave Eggar. Photo Credit: Ken Yanagisawa
Dave Eggar. Photo Credit: Ken Yanagisawa

A celebrated pianist, cellist and composer who now calls Bristol home will be in Los Angeles on Sunday in hopes of picking up his first, and possibly his second, Grammy Award.

The two nominations for Dave Eggar and his partner, Tasha Warren, are for two songs on a 2022 album, “Ourself Behind Ourself, Concealed,” that the pair recorded during the pandemic at Classic Recording Studio in downtown Bristol.

Eggar, currently an adjunct strings instructor at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, and Warren, a Michigan State University assistant professor of chamber music and clarinetist, were nominated in the Best Instrumental Composition category for Paquito D’Rivera’s “African Tales” and Pascal Le Boeuf’s “Snapshots.”

Want to hear the Grammy-nominated music live?

The songs from “Ourself Behind Ourself, Concealed,” will be performed on Sunday, March 26 at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise’s Cantrell Hall as part of Pro-Art’s W. Campbell Edmonds Concert series. It is free and open to the public. Those attending must register at www.proartva.org.

The Grammy Awards will be broadcast at 8 p.m. Sunday on CBS.

The album, whose name was inspired by a line in an Emily Dickinson poem, is a collection of chamber pieces that have been compared to a short story collection. It features musical compositions by six diverse composers.

The album explores the struggle to survive during the global pandemic and includes musical influences from Appalachia, the Far East, the Haitian Caribbean, the plains of Africa, Cuba and New York.

Due to the pandemic, Eggar wound up living in Bristol, Tennessee, after finding himself stuck in Pittsburgh during the middle of a tour. The move was supposed to be temporary for the New York native.

The album came about as he and Warren found themselves wondering about their futures because their careers were essentially frozen.

She approached him with an idea to apply for a grant to commission work for them. He said the idea was to “commission high-level chamber music works that were relevant to young people today – works that used vibrant voices to tell personal stories from other genres of music, works that helped unheard voices be heard.”

Eggar has recorded with some of the biggest names in music, including the Rolling Stones, U2, and John Legend, and worked on a number of movies and TV shows.

He describes the album as “unique,” “collaborative,” and “emotional.” Although the Grammy-nominated album was recorded in Bristol,  most of the collaborators were in studios across the world.

“Because of technology, we had all of the collaborators, who were not with us in real time. Through a thing called Source Connect, they were able to interact with us in real time, so they would effectively be in their studios hearing exactly what we were hearing in our mixes in their studios. We even did a session in Israel in real time with a 1 millisecond delay,” he said.

Eggar has a long history with Bristol and Wise County, mostly due to bluegrass and his work with the late Ralph Stanley, a bluegrass legend.

He said he was especially drawn to Bristol because of the wonderful sounds produced in the small recording studios here.

“The engineers are just better at recording acoustic instruments, which is sort of the heart of what I do because I layer tons of cellos and violins to sound like an orchestra,” he said.

It’s the sound he played on the intense introduction to Coldplay’s hit “Viva La Vida.”

He was also well aware that the music was recorded near the site of the famous 1927 Bristol Sessions, considered the “Big Bang” of commercial country music, which led to Bristol’s designation as the birthplace of country music.

“It felt so right to me in a way because this record is really about … courage. And when I think about the first recordings of country music, how courageous was it of these people to sing their family songs? It’s such a beautiful story. These were ordinary people who sang the songs they wrote about their families, about how life was hard and for us, on the same little block where those recordings were done, to record these risk-taking narratives and classic music, not knowing if we have a future in classical music at all, it was really, personally very meaningful to me,” he said.

Eggar, who was first nominated for a Grammy in 2011, said he’s honored and thrilled to be considered, but he hasn’t really let himself think about the possibility of winning. He said the record is a “dark horse” contender.

“The fact that we got two nominations for an independent record that we made in Bristol of music we collaborated on with our friends with no major label and no political advantage whatsoever, I think is a really big victory for independent music. … It’s amazing to make your dream record.”

Susan Cameron is a reporter for Cardinal News. She has been a newspaper journalist in Southwest Virginia...