Chris Thile Receives $500,000 Grant From MacArthur Foundation

Plans to Buy Vintage Mandolin With Unexpected Windfall

Punch Brothers mandolinist and vocalist Chris Thile is one of the 23 newest recipients named to receive “genius grants” from the nonprofit John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

According to the foundation’s website, “Through his adventurous, multifaceted artistry as both a composer and performer with various ensembles, Thile is creating a distinctly American canon for the mandolin and a new musical aesthetic for performers and audiences alike.”

In addition to his current band, he is known for his solo work and as a former member of Nickel Creek. A California native, he attended college in Kentucky and now resides in the New York City area.

Thile, 31, told the New York Daily News he thought he had received a prank phone call Monday (Oct. 1) when he was told he will be receiving an annual grant of $100,000 for the next five years. Others named as MacArthur Fellows for 2012 include an array of writers, photographers, graphic artists and filmmakers.

As for the financial windfall, Thile told the Daily News, “Most of it, I will boringly sock away. But I do have a fun, indulgent thing I will do. A new old mandolin just came on the market, and I think I’m going to have to pick it up.”

The instrument is a 1925 Gibson F-5, a model and vintage that routinely sell for as much as $150,000 to $200,000. “There were about 200 made,” he said. “They’re far rarer than a Stradivarius [violin].”