|Francisco J. Núñez|
Biography (Updated June 16, 2016)
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photo by: Stephanie Berger
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Francisco J. Núñez, a MacArthur “genius grant” Fellow, is a conductor, composer, leading figure in music education, and the founder of the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award-winning Young People’s Chorus of New York City, renowned worldwide for its diversity and artistic excellence. Through YPC he created an awareness of the ability of children to rise to unforeseen levels of artistry. Mr. Núñez also leads University Glee Club of New York City and is sought after as a guest conductor by professional orchestras, chamber ensembles, and choirs in North America and Europe. As a composer, Mr. Núñez receives countless commissions from choirs, orchestras, and soloists for music and arrangements in all musical formats and styles. Mr. Núñez’s writings are published by Cambridge University Press.
Mr. Núñez is the fifth conductor of the all-men University Glee Club of New York City since it was established in 1894 and was the director of choral activities at New York University from 2003 to 2010. He is sought after as a guest conductor by professional orchestras, chamber ensembles, and choirs in North America and Europe, among them the New York Pops, Manhattan Philharmonic, Newfoundland Symphony, the Geneva Chamber Orchestra, and the Chamber Orchestra of San Antonio, as well as a master teacher and advisor for choral workshops, demonstrations, and festivals.
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. The Coca-Cola Company named him music director of its 125th anniversary year and commissioned him to write a new arrangement of Coca-Cola’s “Buy the World a Coke” advertising jingle. For its 50th anniversary season, the Los Angeles Master Chorale commissioned him to write a new work for them and invited him to conduct it at Walt Disney Hall.
With the creation of his Transient Glory commissioning series of concerts, recordings, symposia, and publications, Mr. Núñez has greatly expanded and invigorated the repertoire of choral music for young people. In a unique collaboration 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. In 2009 he extended Transient Glory to Radio Radiance, a new music series presented in association with public radio, to develop new audiences for cutting-edge choral music through national broadcasts, podcasts, and a grassroots effort in collaboration with youth choruses in cities both on and off the U.S. mainland. Among the more than 100 pieces of music he has commissioned for young voices, more than 80 have been commissioned and premiered through these two series. Many of today’s most distinguished established and emerging composers have written for YPC, many of whom had never before written for young voices.
Núñez Initiative for Social Change Through the Choral Arts
As part of his effort to further effect positive social change for young people and building upon his existing philosophy and methodology, Mr. Núñez has formed the Núñez Initiative for Social Change Through the Choral Arts, bringing together leaders in the field to develop strategies to promote social advocacy for children to choral conductors and music teachers across the nation.
As a leading authority on the role of music in achieving equality and diversity in today’s society, Mr. Núñez is often invited to give keynote addresses by such organizations as Chorus America, Yale University, the Conservatory of Music in Beijing, Hong Kong International Youth and Children's Choir Festival, the Tokyo College of Music, Festival 500 in Newfoundland, Roche International, and the Rhodes World Public Forum in Greece.
To advance and expand the instructional methods that have been so successful with YPC choristers, Mr. Núñez has established a conducting fellowship program, which provides young conductors with the unique opportunity to work hands on with all YPC choral divisions under the mentorship of Mr. Núñez and YPC’s associate conductors. He has also established a College Bound program for all of its after-school choristers, which provides free subject tutoring and SAT/ACT preparation; help in identifying and applying to middle schools, high schools, and colleges; time management skills; and guidance on site visits, auditions, essay writing, and supplemental artistic materials, such as recordings.
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 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. Continuing his long history of bringing children of all kinds together to lead fuller and more productive lives, Mr. Núñez is expanding the YPC mission of diversity, artistic excellence, and education beyond New York City.
Awards and Honors
Mr. Núñez has been recognized with MacArthur Fellowship, an ASCAP Victor Herbert Award, and the New York Choral Society’s Choral Excellence Award. ABC-TV has honored him as its “Person of the Week,” and Fox News profiled him for “changing young lives with music.” Hispanic Business magazine named him one of 100 Most Influential Hispanics, General Motors Corporation hailed him as an unsung Hispanic hero; La Sociedad Coral Latinoamericana named him its Man of the Year, and he was has been honored for his dedication and efforts in promoting Latino culture by Centro Cívico Cultural Dominicano. Most recently, Musical America Worldwide named him among 30 “Influencers” of 2015 for his contributions to the music industry, and Ithaca College presented him with an honorary Doctor of Music degree.
“YPC sang [Four Heartfelt Anthems] with precision and artistry at the highest level. Every marking was observed. They sang so incredibly, it was inhuman…Francisco Núñez is the Horowitz of the choral world.”
David Del Tredici, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer
“Francisco J. Núñez, who directs the Young People’s Chorus of New York City, has been raising the bar [for children’s choruses] over the last decade by commissioning a steady stream of works from composers who usually write for adults and weaving them into programs that include choral classics, spirituals, theater songs and pop arrangements.”
The New York Times (2007)
“The mantle that once belonged to the deans of ‘golden era’ choral music conductors has been passed, and it rests with Francisco Núñez.”
Barbara Murray, Director of Music, NYC Department of Education
“…Francisco Nunez’s Es Tu Tiempo…brought the kids [student singers and instrumentalists] to exceptional life. This best dancer on the podium in the business, Núñez even got the Master Chorale moving some.”
“Francisco Núñez conducted his own Es Tu Tiempo, a joyously swinging samba brightly sung by the LAMC High School Choir Festival Honor Choir mingling with adult members of the Master Chorale. If there was a single hit of the evening, this was it – and the song was promptly reprised.”