Young People's Chorus of New York City, Francisco J. Núñez, Founder/Artistic Director
Francisco J. Núñez

Biography (Updated March 24, 2014)

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Francisco J. Núñez, the recipient of a MacArthur "genius" Fellowship presented to individuals for their "exceptional originality in and dedication to their creative pursuits," is a composer, conductor, visionary, leading figure in music education, and the artistic director of the Young People's Chorus of New York City (YPC). Mr. Núñez founded YPC in 1988 to provide children of all ethnic, religious, and economic backgrounds with a safe haven for personal and artistic growth, and in 2011 YPC was presented with the nation's highest honor for youth programs, a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, by First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House.

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 sought after nationwide as a guest conductor by professional orchestras and choirs, and 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, all of which are published by Boosey & Hawkes. 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. One of his newest compositions, Es Tu Tiempo, was commissioned by the Los Angeles Master Chorale for its 50th anniversary season.

In 2001, with his 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 with dozens of works by today's most distinguished composers, many of whom had never before written for young voices. 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 radio, digital media and internet program, presented in association with public radio, to develop new audiences for cutting-edge choral music through national broadcasts, along with a grassroots effort in collaboration with youth choruses in cities both on and off the U.S. mainland. Between the two series, almost 80 compositions have been commissioned to date.

Continuing his long history of bringing children of all kinds together to lead fuller and more productive lives, Mr. Núñez is collaborating with the Dominican Republic to create a national children's choral movement to unite the country's children and elevate the level of artistic excellence in the country's choral music community.

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. As an authority on the subject, he is often invited to give keynote addresses on the role of music in achieving equality and diversity among children in today's society at choral symposia and conferences across the country.

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.

Mr. Núñez is the recipient of numerous awards, including an ASCAP Concert Music Award, the New York Choral Society's Choral Excellence Award, a Liberty Medal from the New York Post, and ABC-TV's "World News with Diane Sawyer" honored him as its "Person of the Week." Hispanic Business magazine named him one of its 100 Most Influential Hispanics; GMC's national campaign hailed him as an unsung Hispanic hero; La Sociedad Coral Latinoamericana honored him as its Man of the Year, and for his dedication and efforts in promoting Latino culture, he was honored by Centro Cívico Cultural Dominicano.

As a writer, Mr. Núñez is published by Cambridge University Press. He has also contributed to several magazines, such as Choir and Organ.

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“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 (2013)



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