Two members of the Steinhardt School community were among the twenty-two recipients of this year’s “genius” awards from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation: Dafnis Prieto, an internationally-acclaimed percussionist and adjunct faculty member in the Jazz Studies Program; and Francisco Núñez (BS ’88), founder and director of the Young People’s Chorus of New York City and an alumnus of the Music Education Program.
Prieto is a drummer and composer who melds modern jazz harmonies, Cuban clave rhythms, other Latin and African influences, and funk-inspired arrangements to create works of great stylistic diversity. He has performed at venues and in festivals throughout the United States, including the Jazz Standard, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and the Museum of Modern Art. His recordings include Absolute Quintet (2006) and Taking the Soul for a Walk (2008).
Núñez, a conductor, composer, pianist, is the founder of the Young People’s Chorus of New York City (YPC). With more than one thousand young people in five after-school choruses and thirteen choruses in its Satellite School Program in inner-city public schools, Núñez’s YPC exposes young singers to an unmatched variety of music and music makers. YPC is currently the resident chorus at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall and at WNYC, New York Public Radio. Núñez is a guest conductor of orchestras, children’s choirs, and festivals worldwide.
The MacArthur fellows receive $500,000 grants over five years and with no restrictions to give them the freedom to continue their scholarly or artistic work.
(Photos: Dafnis Prieto, Francisco Núñez)