Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Chris Thile Named 2012 MacArthur FellowCongratulations to mandolin virtuoso, singer, and composer Chris Thile, who has been named a MacArthur Fellow. Thile was among the 23 new MacArthur Fellows for 2012, selected by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The annual fellowship, often referred to as the "Genius" grant, offers an unrestricted award of $500,000—$100,000 for each of the following five years—to individuals who, in the Foundation's words, "have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction." Watch Thile discuss his work and the fellowship in a MacArthur Foundation video below.
Among this year's recipients, in addition to Thile, are a pediatric neurosurgeon, a marine ecologist, a journalist, a photographer, an optical physicist and astronomer, a stringed-instrument bow maker, a geochemist, a fiction writer, and Claire Chase, executive director of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), which composer John Adams led in a performance of his Son of Chamber Symphony for a 2011 Nonesuch album. All Fellows were selected for their creativity, originality, and potential to make important contributions in the future.
“These extraordinary individuals demonstrate the power of creativity,” said MacArthur President Robert Gallucci. “The MacArthur Fellowship is not only a recognition of their impressive past accomplishments but also, more importantly, an investment in their potential for the future. We believe in their creative instincts and hope the freedom the Fellowship provides will enable them to pursue unfettered their insights and ideas for the benefit of the world.”
Chris Thile has changed the mandolin forever, elevating it from its origins as a relatively simple folk and bluegrass instrument to the sophistication and brilliance of the finest jazz improvisation and classical performance. For more than 15 years, Thile played in the band Nickel Creek, with whom he released three albums and sold two million records. Punch Brothers, which was formed in 2006 and also features four other virtuosic musicians—fiddler Gabe Witcher, banjo player Noam Pikelny, bassist Paul Kowert, and guitarist Chris Eldridge—released its first Nonesuch record, Punch, in 2008, followed by Antifogmatic in 2010 and Who's Feeling Young Now? in 2012. Nonesuch released Thile's self-titled duo album with bassist Edgar Meyer in 2008 as well and Sleep with One Eye Open, his duo album with guitarist Michael Daves, in 2011. Chris Thile's mandolin concerto, Ad Astra er Alas Porci, was first performed in 2009 and received its Carnegie Hall premiere earlier this year.
Including this year's Fellows, 873 people have been named MacArthur Fellows since the inaugural class in 1981. In doing so, Chris Thile joins an esteemed group of past recipients, a number with ties to Nonesuch Records, including soprano Dawn Upshaw (2007), John Zorn (2006), and director Peter Sellars (1983), a frequent collaborator of John Adams.
For more on the MacArthur Foundation and a complete list of this year's Fellows, visit macfound.org.
Watch the MacArthur Foundation video on Thile here:
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