Leila Josefowicz

Josefowicz Wins Genius Grant

josefowicz.jpgToday the MacArthur Foundation which awards prestigious “genius grants” to individuals who excel and show potential in their fields announced 25 new Fellows today. Among them are a couple of folks who seem to be helping to redefine our notion of what classical music is all about.
Violinist Leila Josefowicz who is only 30 is getting one for broadening her instrument’s repertoire and juxtaposing the avante-garde with the traditional. As the MacArthur Foundation’s site notes, not only is she introducing noteworthy new works, she’s also inspiring them.
The other recipient is Alex Ross, music critic for the New Yorker, who is working to broaden our appreciation of classical music and put it into the the context of our modern lives through his writings. We link to his blog, The Rest is Noise, right here at Classical Musings. Just look in the right column. Ross doesn’t draw boundaries between what is classical and what isn’t. Instead he looks at the continuum of music throughout the ages and writes about the connection between artists as different as Bob Dylan and Mozart.
It seems to me that learning to look at classical music through the lens of today in ways similar to Josefowicz and Ross makes a lot of sense and can only benefit the art form. What do you think? And do you think awarding these two winners their $500,000 prizes and giving them such honors will make a difference to the art form in the future? If you won $500,000 for 5 years, would you invest it in changing the face of classical music? Or take care of that leaking roof? Let us know.