On September 24, pianist and writer and Mannes Faculty member Jeremy Denk received a life changing phone call. That call was from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, informing him that he had been awarded a MacArthur Genius grant, and with it a prize of over $600,000.
The prestigious, unrestricted fellowships are awarded to those who push creative boundaries across fields. In announcing the award, the MacArthur Foundation stated that “Denk’s writings not only offer poignant and humorous meditations on such subjects as the complex relationship between protégé and mentor, they also demonstrate the connection between the process of writing and the practicing musician’s ceaseless efforts to find the most vivid and meaningful way to bring a particular phrase to life. An extraordinary pianist and essayist of keen musical intellect, Denk is engaging listeners and readers in a deeper appreciation of classical music.”
Denk is an accomplished concert pianist who has appeared as soloist with many major orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the symphony orchestras of Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and London. An avid chamber musician, he is as well known for writing on music (in his blog Think Denk, in The New Republic, The New Yorker, and elsewhere) as he is for his performances.
Denk joined Mannes in the 2011-2012 academic year, along with several other high-profile new faculty members including composer and performer Missy Mazzoli and 2013 Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw. Under the leadership of Dean Richard Kessler, Mannes has recently instituted a new vision with a focus on innovation in classical music, combining top-level conservatory training with cross-disciplinary education in new music, technology, and community engagement.