Some of the choices that the MacArthur Foundation has made in the past when awarding their “genius grants” to people in our field have struck me a little… odd. A few years ago, a MacArthur award went to Marin Alsop, and I remember feeling at the time that it might have had more to with the very public skepticism that the musicians of the Baltimore Symphony expressed about her appointment as Music Director – and the Foundation’s skepticism about the BSO musicians – than any personal attributes or achievements of Alsop herself.
Two years ago, Leila Josefowicz got one. She’s certainly a wonderful player, but there are lots of wonderful players; some even do the kinds of work that the MacArthur Foundation cited in her award. It was hard for me to see what she was doing that was really deserving of a genius award (as opposed to getting lots of work as a soloist, which she certainly merits).