Shepherd School alums win Grammy awards

Rice University Shepherd School of Music alums won Grammy Awards at the annual awards show held Feb. 12 in Los Angeles.

Blanton Alspaugh, a record producer, was part of the group that won the Grammy for Best Opera Recording for “The Ghosts of Versailles” cast recording. The comedic two-act opera, premiered on the West Coast in 2015. Alspaugh has been nominated for multiple Grammy awards and won the 2012 Grammy Award for Producer of the Year in the classical music category. He earned a Master of Music degree from Rice’s Shepherd School in 1987.

Shawn Conley, a bassist for Silk Road Ensemble, received the Grammy for Best World Music Album, “Sing Me Home!,” with his fellow group members. The ensemble is made up of performers and composers from more than 20 countries and was founded by the renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma in 2000. Conley graduated from the Shepherd School with a Bachelor of Music degree in 2005 and a Master of Music degree in 2008.

Brenton Ryan sang the role of Leon in the Grammy award-winning L.A. Opera cast recording of “The Ghosts of Versailles.” Ryan was the winner of the Birgit Nilsson Prize at the 2016 Operalia competition and is under management with IMG Artists. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut last season as Pedrillo in Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail, conducted by James Levine. He received a Master of Music degree from the Shepherd School in 2011.

As reported in the Feb. 13 Rice News, Rice history professor Douglas Brinkley also won a Grammy this year.

For a list of this year’s Grammy award winners, visit

For more information on the Shepherd School, visit

About Amy McCaig

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.