Miguel Zenon '98 Named 2008 MacArthur Fellow

By 
Danielle Dreilinger
September 23, 2008
Miguel Zenón performs with Berklee students at Cafe 939.
Photo by Phil Farnsworth

On September 23, innovative composer/saxophonist Miguel Zenón '98 was awarded one of the highest honors in or beyond the music world: a MacArthur Fellowship. The program gives "geniuses" $500,000 over five years, no strings attached, to further their professional pursuits.

The foundation praised the 31-year-old Zenón's ability to "[draw] from a variety of jazz idioms and the music of his native Puerto Rico to create complex, accessible sounds that overflow with emotion." Read the foundation's bio.

"Miguel is one of those rare artists who can transmute all the sounds and colors of their lives into music," said Berklee President Roger H. Brown. "[When] he came back to Berklee last year for our inaugural Marsalis Berklee Jams event... aspiring young jazz musicians made a line that snaked throughout the whole venue waiting in turn to share the stage with Miguel. They know genius when they hear it."    

Zenón, who came to Berklee via the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico, has participated in many activities with his alma mater. In addition to launching the Marsalis Berklee Jams series at Cafe 939, he recently performed at the college with the SFJAZZ Collective. He won a Guggenheim Fellowship earlier this year.