Published: March 17, 2021 By

Richard O’Neill, the newest member of the College of Music’s string faculty, won a Grammy Award in the Best Classical Instrumental Solo category for his performance of Christopher Theofanidis’ Concerto for Viola and Chamber Orchestra

Richard O'Neill

Richard O'Neill, violist with CU Boulder's Takács Quartet.

O’Neill, who has been nominated twice previously, is the second person to receive an award for a viola performance in the history of the category.

Prior to joining CU Boulder’s internationally renowned Takács Quartet earlier this year, O’Neill played viola for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York City and performed as a soloist with the world’s top orchestras, including the London, Los Angeles and Seoul philharmonics. 

The 63rd Annual Grammy Awards were virtual this year amid the coronavirus pandemic, so O’Neill tuned in from the comfort of his home in Boulder, Colorado. 

“While I missed the pomp and circumstance of the red carpet, there is an amazing comfort to going into your own music room and greeting the world from your laptop,” O’Neill said. 

Despite the less formal ceremony, O’Neill was still amazed when he heard his name called for his first Grammy Award. 

“It was hard for me to contain my overwhelming sense of gratitude.”

In his virtual acceptance speech, O’Neill thanked Theofanidis, conductor David Allen Miller, producer Silas Brown, his family, the Takács Quartet and CU Boulder, and acknowledged the musicians across the country who have faced hardship amid the pandemic. 

It’s also been a tough year for O’Neill, whose mother went into remission after a long battle with breast cancer. 

Despite the challenges, O’Neill is grateful for his past year at CU Boulder. 

“What a great first year to have joined one of the greatest string quartets in the world, in one of the most beautiful communities of the world, and now I receive this honor,” O’Neill said. “Of all the struggle and darkness over the past year, this is a beacon of light.”

Read more about O’Neill and what inspires him.