Dominican-American Francisco Nunez, a choral conductor and composer who has made a difference to the lives of so many inner-city children in New York City, has been awarded the 2011 Genius Award by the MacArthur Foundation. The award comes with a prize of US$500,000 that the winner can spend as he or she pleases. The funds will be received over a five year period, and Nunez has already announced they will help add more singers to his musical program.
Nunez founded the Young People’s Chorus of New York City (YPC) in 1988. This year MacArthur Foundation recognized his work of bringing young voices from inner city to elite schools to sing new music of the highest quality.
“Melding this vision with expertise, passion, and entrepreneurship, Nunez has elevated the youth chorus to the ranks of serious contemporary music, commissioning and performing some of the most challenging works for youth choirs,” highlights the Foundation.
Today, with over one thousand young people in five after-school choruses and thirteen choruses in its Satellite School Program in inner-city public schools, Nunez’s YPC exposes young singers to an unmatched variety of music and music makers. YPC now tours throughout the United States and internationally, presents concerts to focus the attention of today’s composers on the important instrument that is a child’s voice, and engages in partnerships with dance companies, performing ensembles, radio stations, jazz artists, and leading American music publishers.
YPC is the first children’s choir in this country to be an official radio choir, heard regularly in New York City, and has commissioned more than fifty pieces of music from today’s most respected contemporary composers through its ‘Transient Glory’ series of concerts, CDs, and publications. Nunez has signaled broadly not only that youth choirs have the capacity to transform lives but that they can also expand artistic boundaries and hold a special place in musical achievement.
YPC is currently the resident chorus at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall and at WNYC, New York Public Radio. Nunez also leads the University Glee Club of New York City and is active as a composer and as a guest conductor of orchestras, children’s choirs and festivals worldwide.