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Chris Thile of Punch Brothers reportedly wins 'genius grant'

October 01, 2012|By Mikael Wood
  • Chris Thile, second from right, performs with Punch Brothers at the El Rey Theatre in 2010.
Chris Thile, second from right, performs with Punch Brothers at the El Rey… (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles…)

His band’s latest album is called “Who’s Feeling Young Now?,” but Chris Thile can now count himself a little older and wiser.

On Tuesday, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is set to announce this year’s recipients of its so-called genius grants, a wide-ranging list of 23 overachievers that reportedly includes Thile, according to the Associated Press. The 31-year-old mandolin whiz first found fame with the teenage bluegrass trio Nickel Creek and now leads Punch Brothers, and he has also recorded with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and bassist Edgar Meyer.

MacArthur Fellows (as they’re officially known) are “individuals who show exceptional creativity in their work and the prospect for still more in the future,” according to the Foundation, which awards each with $500,000 over five years, no strings attached. “The fellowship is designed to provide recipients with the flexibility to pursue their creative activities in the absence of specific obligations or reporting requirements.”

Beyond Thile, 2012 honorees include writer Junot Díaz, L.A.-based photographer Uta Barth and a bevy of folks whose science-related careers sound very impressive indeed (kudos, Columbia University geochemist Terry Plank).

Even with a genius in their midst, Punch Brothers will spend the rest of the year on the road in the United States and Europe. Think of a question to stump Thile with when the band plays L.A.’s Luckman Fine Arts Complex on Dec. 1.

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