The John T. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation , the fellowship that awards the annual MacArthur Genius Grants. Recipients come from a wide range of disciplines: painters, mathematicians, social justice activists, and musicians too. Each is selected for having “shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.” This year’s list of 24 holds three talented individuals who call music their sphere of expertise.
Singer, instrumentalist, and songwriter Rhiannon Giddens is an NPR veteran, using her knowledge, talent, and influence to reclaim the African and African-American contributions to folk, country, celtic, and other genres that have been historically left out or diminished throughout time.
Composer and musician Tyshawn Sorey is a paragon of a multi-instrumentalist, feeling as comfortable on the drums set as he does on the piano or trombone. He’s also a conductor and composer, blending sounds so vividly and uniquely that to pigeonhole his genre-free approach to music making is negligible.
Finally, there’s Yuval Sharon, an ambitious opera director reinventing the boundaries of where, when, and how opera can be performed. His goal in life is to kill the stigma that opera is passive, flowery, and only for a particular kind of mind. His 2013 production of Christopher Cerrone’s Invisible Cities, for instance, was performed in L.A. Union Station while the station remained fully operational, with members of the production and audience members interspersed among the station’s employees, travelers, and commuters. His Hopscotch: An Opera for 24 Cars productions took place at various locations around L.A., and audience members were shuttled to each location in limousines after choosing which of the opera’s three routes they wished to follow.
Each of the 24 recipients will receive a $625,000 award from the MacArthur Foundation “as an investment in their potential.”