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."
As of fall 2011, 849 Fellows have been named from a range of disciplines. "We consider creative people applying their talents across the widest possible range of activities, rather than a predetermined set of fields. Some expand traditional disciplines in unexpected ways, others synthesize ideas from apparently disparate fields, still others undertake endeavors that defy easy classification."
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)
Daughter of NEC faculty members Vivian Hornik Weilerstein and Donald Weilerstein, Alisa is the cellist of the Weilerstein Trio, an NEC ensemble-in-residence.
Jason Moran (awarded 2010)
Moran, a jazz pianist and composer, joined the NEC jazz faculty fall 2010.
Miguel Zenón (awarded 2008)
Zenón, a native of Puerto Rico who is working in both indigenous and jazz traditions while creating his own new musical language, joined the NEC jazz faculty fall 2009.
Regina Carter '82 (awarded 2006)
Carter was the first nonclassical violinist invited to perform on Paganini's famous "Cannon" violin in Genoa, Italy, in 2003.
Steve Lacy (awarded 1992)
After almost four decades living in Europe, Lacy moved back to the United States in 2002 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 DP (awarded 1991)
pianist noted for unique improvisational style and wide-ranging collaborations
Gunther Schuller (awarded 1991)
NEC's president from 1967 to 1977, NEC honorary Doctor of Music, 1978
George Russell (awarded 1989)
NEC faculty from 1969 through 2004, Distinguished Artist-in-Residence Emeritus, NEC honorary Doctor of Music, 2005
John Harbison (awarded 1989)
This Boston composer taught NEC composition students from 1998 through 2000 and has made regular visits to NEC to coach performances of his music. NEC honorary Doctor of Music, 1995
Ran Blake (awarded 1988)
NEC faculty since 1974, founded Contemporary Improvisation (formerly Third Stream) studies program at NEC, NEC honorary Doctor of Music, 2006
Read more about the MacArthur Fellowship Program.