Francisco J. Núñez
Founder and Artistic Director
Francisco J. Núñez, a MacArthur Fellow, is a composer, conductor, visionary, leading figure in music education, and the artistic director/founder of the Young People’s Chorus of New York, renowned worldwide for its diversity and artistic excellence. Since YPC’s founding, Mr. Núñez has created an awareness of the ability of children to rise to unlimited heights of artistry. Each year nearly 2,000 children ages 8 to 18 benefit musically, academically, and socially through their participation in YPC’s after-school and in-school programs.
Mr. Núñez also leads the University Glee Club of New York City, its fifth conductor since the all-men’s chorus was established in 1894, was the director of choral activities at New York University from 2003 to 2010, and is sought after not only as a guest conductor by professional orchestras, chamber ensembles, and choirs in North America and Europe, but also as a master teacher and advisor for choral workshops, demonstrations, and festivals worldwide. Since the U.S. debut of American Young Voices at the Prudential Center in 2015, Mr. Núñez has also been the principal conductor for the U.S. performances of this educational phenomenon. The Young Voices organization, initially born in the U.K., has been bringing thousands of children together to sing in some of the largest arenas in cities throughout the world for over 20 years.
Mr. Núñez has greatly extended and invigorated the repertoire for young voices by commissioning well over100 pieces of music from many of today’s most distinguished established and emerging composers, greatly contributing to the ever-evolving fabric of music in the 21st century. As a composer himself, Mr. Núñez wrote his first choral work, Misa Pequeña, at age 15, winning early acclaim for seamlessly fusing a wide gamut of cultures and musical idioms. Today, he composes countless compositions and arrangements in all musical formats and styles, from classical to pop, commissioned from him for choirs, orchestras, and solo instruments.
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.
Mr. Núñez created the Núñez Initiative for Social Change Through the Choral Arts to bring together leaders in various fields to develop a strategy to promote social advocacy for children to choral conductors and music teachers across the nation. As children’s advocate, he is often invited to give keynote speeches to major organizations around the world as a leading authority on the role of music in achieving equality and diversity in today’s society.
At YPC Mr. Núñez established a College Bound program for YPC’s after-school choristers, which provides workshops, subject tutoring, and other support to enable all YPC graduates to go on to higher education and was recently named Musical America’s 2018 Educator of the Year. Mr. Núñez, a representative to the New York State Blue Ribbon Commission on the Arts, continues to participate in discussions on pathways to graduation through the arts.
To advance and expand the instructional methods that have been so successful with YPC choristers, Mr. Núñez 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 Artistic Director Elizabeth Núñez.
Most recently, Mr. Núñez has created YPC National to extend the work YPC has done for New York City children and grow the number of children singing across the country to local communities inspired by the accomplishments and the mission of YPC.
Among Mr. Nunez’s many other awards and honors are an ASCAP Victor Herbert Award and the New York Choral Society’s Choral Excellence Award. Hispanic Business magazine named him one of 100 Most Influential Hispanics, ABC-TV named him as a “Person of the Week, and Fox News profiled him “for “changing young lives with music.” Musical America Worldwide named him among 30 “Influencers” for his contributions to the music industry, Bang on a Can presented him with its Visionary Award for making the commissioning of new music a key part of the YPC mission; NYU Steinhardt honored him with its Distinguished Alumnus Achievement Award; and both Ithaca College and Gettysburg College have presented him with honorary Doctor of Music degrees.