Two Eastman School of Music graduates are Grammy winners

Two Eastman School of Music alumni, Sean D. Connors and Geoff Saunders, were winners in the National Academy’s of Recording Arts and Sciences’ 59th Grammy Awards on Feb. 12.
Connors, class of 2004, is a member of the ensemble Third Coast Percussion, which won the Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance Grammy for the album “Steve Reich.” Formed in 2005, the ensemble champions new music and has collaborated across a wide range of disciplines with engineers, architects and astronomers.
Connors has performed with Amphion Percussion, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Eighth Blackbird, the International Contemporary Ensemble, Signal and Metropolis Ensemble, and he was the percussionist for two summers with the Aspen Music Festival Contemporary Ensemble. As an educator, he served for two years as assistant professor of percussion at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point and taught elementary school and middle school music in the Chicago suburbs.
Saunders, class of 2009, a double bassist, is a member of the O’Connor Band with Mark O’Connor, which won the Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album for Coming Home. The album was at the top of Billboard’s bluegrass album chart for nearly half a year.
In addition to O’Connor, Saunders worked with artists such as Chick Corea, Bobby McFerrin, Gloria Estefan, Steve Miller, Larry Rosen, Phil Ramone, Dave Grusin and Terence Blanchard. He is an active freelance player in Miami and is a founding member of the local folk-pop group The Wynwoods. Saunders has performed for the Miami Light Project, Miami Nice Jazz Festival, Miami Made Festival and other local festivals.
He has performed with the New World Symphony for the premiere of Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind, composed and conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas. Saunders is currently pursuing his Doctor of Musical Arts in jazz studies at the Frost School of the University of Miami.