Music Department

NYU Honors MacArthur Fellowship Recipients

Dafnis Prieto                                                                                                                         Francisco J. Núñez           

NYU Steinhardt Music Department Honors Two 2011 MacArthur “Genius” Fellows: Dafnis Prieto and Francisco Núñez

Mon. Feb.6, 2012 at 7pm

NYU Steinhardt’s Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions honored two MacArthur “Genius” Fellows: Music Education Alumnus and faculty Francisco J. Núñez and current Jazz Studies Professor Dafnis Prieto on February 6 at the Frederick Loewe Theatre. Both were interviewed by John Schaefer from WNYC. Núñez conducted the NYC Young People's Chorus and Prieto performed an improvised drum solo.

The MacArthur Fellows receive $500,000 grants payed out over five years and with no restrictions to give them the freedom to continue their scholarly or artistic work.

About Dafnis Prieto (pictured top left, photo by Henry Lopez)

From Cuba, his arrival in the U.S. has been compared by to that of an asteroid hitting New York. Indeed, within a short period of time Dafnis Prieto's revolutionary drumming techniques had a powerful impact on the Latin and Jazz music scene, locally and internationally.

Various awards include “2011 MacArthur Fellowship Award”, “Up & Coming Musician of the Year” by the Jazz Journalists Association in 2006, a Grammy Award Nomination for ”Absolute Quintet” as Best Latin Jazz Album, and a Latin Grammy Nomination for “Best New Artist” in 2007. Also a gifted educator, Prieto has conducted numerous master classes, clinics, and workshops. Since 2005, he has been a member of the NYU Music Faculty.

Dafnis Prieto Vocal Percussion

A resident of New York since only 1999, he has already played in bands led by Henry Threadgill, Steve Coleman, Eddie Palmieri, Chico and Arturo O'Farrill, Dave Samuels & The Caribbean Jazz Project, Jane Bunnett, D.D. Jackson, Edward Simon, Michel Camilo, Chucho Valdez, Claudia Acuña, Roy Hargrove, Don Byron and Andrew Hill, among others. He has performed at many national and international music festivals as a sideman and as bandleader including various of his own project and music.

As a composer, he has created music for dance, film, chamber ensembles, and most notably for his own bands, ranging from duets to his “Small Big Band” and including the distinctively different groups featured on his two acclaimed recordings as a leader, “About The Monks,” and “Absolute Quintet.” He has received new works, commissions, grants, and fellowships from Chamber Music America, Jazz at Lincoln Center, East Carolina University, and Meet the Composer.

About Francisco J. Núñez (pictured top right, photo by Stephanie Berger)

Francisco J. Núñez, 2011 MacArthur Fellow, is a composer, conductor, visionary, and leading figure in music education.  He graduated from NYU as music education and piano major in 1988, and that same year founded the Young People’s Chorus of New York City to provide children of diverse backgrounds with a high-quality program of music education and choral performance. This past November, that program, which represents Francisco’s vision of creating equality among children through music, was presented with the nation’s highest honor for youth programs from First Lady Michelle Obama—a 2011 National Arts & Humanities Youth Program Award. 

Francisco conducted the NYU University Singers for eight years and the University Glee Club of New York City since 2000.  He was named music director for Coca Cola’s 125th anniversary year and  is sought after as a guest conductor by professional orchestras and choirs nationwide, as well as a master teacher, advisor, and keynote speaker on the role of  music in achieving equality and diversity among children in today’s society.  Continuing his long history of bringing children of all backgrounds together to lead fuller lives, Mr. Núñez is working with the Dominican Republic on a national children’s choral movement inspired by YPC to unite the country’s children.

For press inquiries, please contact James Devitt in the NYU Office of Public Affairs at 212.998.6808 or james.devitt@nyu.edu.