They aren't household names, but Mark Walker, Oscar Stagnaro, and Eugene Friesen share at least two distinctions with celebrity musicians Quincy Jones and John Mayer: They are all connected to the Berklee College of Music, and they were all nominated last week for Grammy Awards.
The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences nominated 21 Berklee College of Music alumni and three faculty members for a total of 26 Grammy Awards.
In addition to Jones (class of '51) and Mayer ('98), the celebrity alumni nominations include James Valentine ('96) of Maroon 5, Diana Krall ('83), and Steve Vai ('79). To date, Berklee alumni have won 154 Grammys.
While having won awards in the past, this is the first individual nomination for Walker. "I found out through an e-mail," he said. "I was surprised, shocked. It was a feeling of celebration."
Walker, who is in his sixth year of teaching percussion at Berklee, is nominated for Best Instrumental Composition for the "Deep Six" track by his group, Oregon.
The album "Funk Tango" by the Paquito D'Rivera Quintet, in which Walker plays the drums, is also nominated for Best Latin Jazz record. Stagnaro, a professor who teaches bass guitar, is also a member of the quintet.
Friesen, a cellist and conductor of the string orchestra at Berklee, is no stranger to the Grammys, having already won two. This year, he is nominated for Best Album in the New Age category for his band's album "Crestone," named after an area of the western Rockies in Colorado.
"The album is a project that celebrates the natural landscape of the wild creatures of the area and Native American heritage and history of the area," said Friesen, whose band is the Paul Winter Consort.
Friesen said he will be unable to attend the Grammy Awards ceremony this year, but said he went in 2006 with his son.
Walker plans to attend the Feb. 10 event in Los Angeles with his wife. "I guess she now has an excuse to buy a new dress," he said.
MARY ANN GEORGANTOPOULOS