MacArthur Fellows

Since 1981, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's Fellows Program has awarded unrestricted fellowships to "talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. There are three criteria for selection of Fellows: exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work."

New England Conservatory is believed to have affiliations with more MacArthur Fellows than any other school of music.

MacArthur Fellows with NEC affiliations

Alisa Weilerstein (awarded 2011)
Weilerstein is a cellist whose emotionally resonant performances of both traditional and contemporary music have earned her international recognition. She is the cellist of the Weilerstein Trio, an NEC ensemble-in-residence. Weilerstein is also the daughter of NEC faculty members Vivian Hornik Weilerstein and Donald Weilerstein.

Jason Moran (awarded 2010)
Moran is a pianist, composer, and bandleader who mines a variety of musical styles to create adventurous, genre-crossing jazz performances. He joined NEC faculty in fall 2010.

Miguel Zenón (awarded 2008)
Zenón is a saxophonist and composer who is expanding the boundaries of Latin and jazz music through his innovative musical collages. He joined NEC faculty in fall 2009.

Regina Carter '82 (awarded 2006)
Carter is a master of improvisational jazz violin. She was the first nonclassical violinist invited to perform on Paganini's famous "Cannon" violin in Genoa, Italy, in 2003. Carter studied violin performance at NEC.

Steve Lacy (awarded 1992)
Lacy was a saxophonist and jazz composer. In 2002, after almost four decades living in Europe, Lacy moved back to the United States to accept a teaching appointment at NEC—his only such institutional affiliation. He taught at NEC up until his death in 2004.

Cecil Taylor '51, ’77 hon. DMA (awarded 1991)
Taylor was an avant-garde jazz composer and pianist who is distinct for his exploration of the power of sounds beyond traditional harmony, melody and rhythm. Taylor received his undergraduate degree in 1951 and an honorary doctorate in 1977 from NEC.

Gunther Schuller ’78 hon. DMA (awarded 1991)
Schuller was a composer, a conductor, a scholar, a jazz historian, a music publisher, and a record producer. He served as President of NEC from 1967 to 1977, where he formalized NEC’s commitment to jazz by establishing the first degree-granting jazz program at a major classical conservatory in 1969. Shortly thereafter, he instituted the Third Stream department (subsequently named the Contemporary Improvisation department) to explore the regions where the two musical “streams” of classical and jazz meet and mingle (Schuller had coined the term “Third Stream” during a lecture he gave at Brandeis University in 1957).

George Russell ’05 hon. DMA (awarded 1989)
Russell was a composer, a music theorist, an educator, and a conductor. He served on NEC faculty from 1969 through 2004, where he held the title of Distinguished Artist-in-Residence Emeritus. NEC awarded Russell an honorary doctorate in 2005.

John Harbison ’95 hon. DMA (awarded 1989)
Harbison is a composer and a conductor whose music is distinguished by its exceptional resourcefulness and expressive range. He taught composition at NEC from 1998 through 2000 and has made regular visits to NEC to coach performances of his music. NEC awarded Harbison an honorary doctorate in 1995.

Ran Blake ’06 hon. DMA (awarded 1988)
Ran Blake is a performer of American music and a composer whose improvisational work reflects a variety of genres, including jazz, film scores, classical, Latin, and various world musics. Blake joined the faculty of New England Conservatory in 1967. In 1972, he founded the Department of Third Stream Studies, later renamed the Contemporary Improvisation Department. NEC awarded Blake an honorary doctorate of music in 2006.

Charles Wuorinen (awarded 1985)
Charles Wuorinen is one of America’s most distinguished and prolific contemporary composers. Wuorinen taught composition at NEC from 1968-1969.


Learn More about the MacArthur Fellowship Program