2012 MacArthur Genius Grants Awarded to Flutist, Bowmaker, Mandolinist

Monday, October 01, 2012 - 05:57 PM

The flutist Claire Chase, the bow maker Benoit Rolland and the mandolin player Chris Thile are among the 23 recipients of this year's MacArthur Foundation "genius grants," revealed on Monday by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The 10 women and 13 men, known as fellows, were selected for their creativity, originality and potential. They range in age from 31 to 66. Each will receive $100,000 a year for five years, no strings attached.

Along with the musicians are a mathematician, neurobiologist, photographer, computer scientist, documentary filmmaker and a novelist.

Claire Chase, 34, is a New York-based flutist and executive director of the International Contemporary Ensemble, a new-music ensemble she founded in 2001. The group has premiered some 500 works, established a composer mentoring program called Icelab, and held residencies at Lincoln Center and other major venues. Chase has premiered over 100 solo works for the flute.

The MacArthur Foundation commended Chase for developing "audiences in the appreciation of contemporary classical music " and opening "new avenues of artistic expression."

Benoit Roland has created bows for string players including Anne-Sophie Mutter, Christian Tetzlaff, Julia Fischer, Lynn Harrell as well as past legends like Mstislav Rostropovich and Yehudi Menuhin. Born in Paris in 1958, he studied violin and bow making, opening his first studio in Paris in 1976. He pursued a strong focus in new technologies, developing bows made of alternate materials like carbon fiber. He moved to Boston in 2003.

The MacArthur Foundation cited Roland's "experiments with new designs and materials to create violin, viola and cello bows that rival prized 19th century bows and meet the artistic demands of today's musicians."

Chris Thile, 31, is a mandolin player who played with the progressive bluegrass trio Nickel Creek and is now touring with Punch Brothers. He wrote a mandolin concerto in 2009 on a commission by a consortium of orchestras including the Colorado Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and the Oregon Symphony. Last year, he topped the classical charts with the Goat Rodeo Sessions, a folk-classical crossover project involving cellist Yo-Yo Ma, fiddler Stuart Duncan and bassist Edgar Meyer.

The foundation cited Thile for "creating a new musical aesthetic and a distinctly American canon for the mandolin through a lyrical fusion of traditional bluegrass orchestrations with a range of styles and genres."

Watch Thile perform with Punch Brothers in The Greene Space in April and tell us: What would you do with the $500,000 grant?

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