Francisco J. Núñez, a recipient of a 2011 MacArthur Fellowship presented to individuals for their “exceptional originality in and dedication to their creative pursuits,” is the artistic director of the Young People’s Chorus of New York City™ (YPC), a composer, conductor, visionary, and leading figure in music education. In 1988 he founded YPC to provide children of all ethnic, religious, and economic backgrounds with a safe haven for personal and artistic growth and to date has changed the lives of thousands of young people. YPC is widely recognized for its exceptional caliber and has been cited as a model of artistic excellence and diversity by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities under the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations.
Mr. Núñez also leads University Glee Club of New York City, its fifth conductor since the all-men’s choir was established in 1894, and was the director of choral activities at New York University from 2003 to 2010. He is also sought after as a guest conductor by professional orchestras and choirs and as a master teacher and advisor for choral workshops, demonstrations, and festivals nationwide.
As a composer, Mr. Núñez won early acclaim for seamlessly fusing a wide gamut of cultures and musical idioms, writing his first choral work, Misa Pequeña, at age 15. Today, he composes countless compositions and arrangements in all musical formats and styles, from classical to pop, for choirs, orchestras, and solo instruments, which are published by Boosey & Hawkes. He receives numerous commissions, including an arrangement of Coca Cola’s “Buy the World a Coke” advertising jingle on the occasion of the campaign’s 40th anniversary in 2011.
With the creation of his Transient Glory® commissioning series of concerts, recordings, symposia, and publications, Mr. Núñez has greatly expanded the repertoire of choral music for young people with more than 60 works by today’s most distinguished composers. In association with Chester Novello and G Schirmer, the Transient Glory® compositions are being published by Boosey & Hawkes, where Mr. Núñez is an editor, so that other choruses worldwide can have access to this challenging music. He recently extended Transient Glory® to Radio Radiance™, a radio, digital media and internet program, presented in partnership with WNYC New York Public Radio and American Public Media, to develop new audiences for cutting-edge choral music.
Continuing his long history of bringing children of all kinds together to lead fuller and more productive lives, Mr. Núñez recently began a collaboration with the Dominican Republic to create a children’s choral program as part of a national effort called Uno a Uno (One by One), to unite the country’s children as a first step in bringing the Dominican community together through the arts.
Francisco Núñez’s early years contributed to his passion for providing children with a path to fulfilling their life’s potential. He grew up in close-knit Dominican family in New York City’s Washington Heights. As a piano prodigy, he spent his time away from school at home practicing piano. Through his musical talent, he met other children with the same interests in music but who came from different cultural and economic environments. He learned from them, and they learned from him. After he graduated from NYU as a piano performance major, he formed the Young People’s Chorus of New York City™, bringing children from underserved neighborhoods together with children from more privileged circumstances. With music as the equalizer, the diversity in the group resulted in new vocal colors and a confident urban style, creating not only a vibrant new choral sound, but also an avenue for children to succeed. As an authority on the subject, he is often invited to give keynote addresses at choral symposia and conferences across the country.
To advance and expand the instructional methods that have been so successful with YPC choristers, this season Mr. Núñez has established a conducting fellowship program. The first two fellows selected—both with bachelor of music degrees and some professional teaching experience—are currently integral members of the conducting team with the unique opportunity to work hands on with all YPC choral divisions under the mentorship of Mr. Núñez and YPC’s associate conductors.
Mr. Núñez is the recipient of numerous awards, including a 2009 ASCAP Concert Music Award, the 2009 New York Choral Society’s Choral Excellence Award, and the 2005 Liberty Award from the New York Post. Hispanic Business magazine named him one of the 100 Most Influential Hispanics of 2005; GMC’s national campaign hailed him as an unsung Hispanic hero; and La Sociedad Coral Latinoamericana honored him as its 2009 Man of the Year.
As a writer, Mr. Núñez is being published by Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press and has contributed to several online magazines, such as NewMusicBox.com.
Mr. Núñez makes his home in New York with his wife Elizabeth Núñez, a YPC conductor; their son Sebastián; and two Italian greyhounds Coda and Dixie.
For more information, visit franciscojnunez.com and www.macfound.org.