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January 27, 2012

The NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development’s Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions will celebrate not one, but two John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellows who demonstrate exceptional creativity, promise, and pursuit of creative works. Of 22 national awardees, this year’s recipients include current Jazz Studies Professor Dafnis Prieto and Francisco J. Núñez, an alumnus of the music education department. This is the first time anyone from the department has been selected for the award. Both Steinhardt recipients will perform at a celebratory event held in their honor on Feb. 6 at 7:00 p.m. at The Frederick Loewe Theatre located at 35 W. 4th St. Admission is free and open to the public.

The MacArthur Fellowship, a $500,000 award in support of individual passions, and not projects, is designed to provide seed money for intellectual, social, and artistic endeavors.

“This award is very helpful and is going to speed up a lot of possibilities in my career and my work,” Prieto said in a recent interview with the MacArthur Foundation. “I’m honored and happy about it.”

Originally from Cuba, Prieto has been a member of the NYU Steinhardt music faculty since 2005 and his evolutionary drumming techniques continue to have a powerful impact on the Latin and Jazz music scene, both locally and internationally. As a composer, he has created music for dance, film, chamber ensembles, and his own bands. He has received numerous awards and honors including “Up & Coming Musician of the Year” by the Jazz Journalists Association (2006), a Grammy Award Nomination for ”Absolute Quintet” as Best Latin Jazz Album, and a Latin Grammy Nomination for “Best New Artist” (2007).

“We are thrilled that two of this year’s 22 MacArthur Fellows, and two of the three musicians among them, are members of the Steinhardt community,” said Robert Rowe, chair of Steinhardt’s Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions. “Francisco Nuñez's passion, musicianship, and drive in building the Young People's Chorus of New York City, together with Dafnis Prieto's innovation and numerous contributions to the world of jazz percussion will combine to produce a fascinating evening of discussion and music. No two artists are more deserving of this esteemed honor.”

Francisco J. Núñez, graduated from NYU in 1988 as a music education and piano major. He founded the Young People’s Chorus (YPC) of New York City to provide children of diversebackgrounds with a unique program of music education and choral performance. First Lady Michelle Obama recently presented YPC with a 2011 National Arts & Humanities Youth Program Award, the nation’s highest honor for youth programs.  From 2000 to 2008,  Núñez conducted the NYU university singers and women's chorus.

Media interested in attending, please contact Courtney Bowe in NYU’s Office of Public Affairs at 212.998.6797 or

To learn more about NYU Steinhardt, visit: 

This Press Release is in the following Topics:
NYUToday-feature, Around the Square, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development

Type: Press Release

Steinhardt Department of Music and Performing Arts Honors Two MacArthur Fellows

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