Mandolin player, flautist and bowmaker among 2012 MacArthur Fellows

Musicians among 23 creatives awarded 'genius grants'

Chris Thile

Mandolin player Chris Thile (above), flautist Claire Chase and bowmaker Benoît Rolland are among the 2012 MacArthur fellows.


Each of the 23 fellows is given a no-strings-attached award – nicknamed a ‘genius grant’ – of $100,000 (£80,300) a year over five years.

Mandolin player and composer, Chris Thile, works across an array of musical styles, including bluegrass, classical and jazz. As a composer he is perhaps best known for his mandolin concerto, Ad Astra per Alas Porci (‘To the stars on the wings of a pig’) and as a performer, for his interpretations of JS Bach’s works for solo violin, performed on the mandolin.

Claire Chase is a flautist and founder and artistic director of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), with whom she has performed across the US. She also released a recording of solo flute works in 2009 called Aliento.

Bowmaker Benoît Rolland was the first person to make a graphite bow of concert quality. He trained at the Conservatoire de Paris and the bowmaking school in Mirecourt. In 2001 he established a studio in Boston.

The fellowships can’t be applied for and each award-winner is chosen, according to the MacArthur Foundation’s website, for ‘exceptional creativity, as demonstrated through a track record of significant achievement, and manifest promise for important future advances’.


Last year’s fellows included cellist Alisa Weilerstein.