Two artistic alumni win MacArthur Foundation grant

Two Yale alumni — jazz pianist and composer Vijay Iyer ’92 B.S. and playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney ’07 M.F.A. — have won 2013 MacArthur Fellowships.

They are among 24 individuals honored this year for their “track record of achievement and the potential for even more significant contributions in the future,” according to the MacArthur Fellows website. Each fellow receives a five-year, no-strings-attached stipend of $625,000 — an award designed to allow recipients the freedom “to follow their own creative vision.”

“This year’s class of MacArthur Fellows is an extraordinary group of individuals who collectively reflect the breadth and depth of American creativity,” said Cecilia Conrad, vice president of the MacArthur Fellows Program. “They are artists, social innovators, scientists, and humanists who are working to improve the human condition and to preserve and sustain our natural and cultural heritage. Their stories should inspire each of us to consider our own potential to contribute our talents for the betterment of humankind.”

Iyer was honored for his work as “a pianist, composer, bandleader, electronic musician, and writer forging a new conception of jazz and American creative music through an eclectic oeuvre that includes compositions for his own and other ensembles, collaborations across multiple genres and disciplines, and scholarly research on the act of listening,” according to the MacArthur website. Read his full biography.

McCraney — who was recently on the Yale campus to accept an inaugural Windham-Campbell Prize in drama — was cited for his achievements as “a playwright exploring the rich diversity of the African-American experience in works that imbue the lives of ordinary people with epic significance,” notes the MacArthur website. Read his full biography.

All told, 873 individuals have been named as MacArthur Fellows since the program began in 1981. The fellows are selected through a rigorous process involving thousands of expert and anonymous nominators, evaluators, and selectors. The foundation does not accept unsolicited or outside nominations.