Violinist and former Palo Altan Alexi Kenney has received the prestigious 2016 Avery Fisher Career Grant, which is annually awarded to young musicians or chamber ensembles with the potential for major careers.
The late Avery Fisher, a lifelong benefactor of classical music, established the Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Artist Program in 1974, which now includes both the Avery Fisher Prize and the Avery Fisher Career Grants.
A maximum of five career grants -- each worth $25,000 -- are awarded each year, and artists do not apply directly for the grant. In fact, they have no idea if they are even under consideration, and the grant itself is given based on excellence alone.
A recommendation board comprised of conductors, instrumentalists, music educators, composers, managers and presenters is in charge of nominating artists for the career grants.
In an interview with Fred Child, host of "Performance Today," Kenney remembered his humble musical beginnings, following kids with violin cases into a church while on a walk with his mom in Palo Alto. It was there that, at 4 years old, he started playing the violin. Only five years later, he would participate in Music@Menlo, the renowned chamber festival, then in its pilot year.
The Paly graduate (class of 2011) also attended Ohlone Elementary School and Jordan Middle School, and played in the El Camino Youth Symphony.
Kenney, 22, received his Bachelor of Music degree from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where he is currently the only violinist in its selective, two-year Artists Diploma Program. He is studying with Donald Weilerstein and Miriam Fried on the Charlotte F. Rabb Presidential Scholarship. Later this season, he will release his debut album (CAG Records) featuring works by Schumann, Enescu and Westhoff -- all works Kenney performed in his Carnegie Hall debut recital.
This year's announcement of the grants, which took place March 22 at The Greene Space, was hosted by WQXR's Elliott Forrest and featured performances by the honorees. The grants were conferred by Joseph W. Polisi, chairman of the Avery Fisher Artist Program and president of The Juilliard School, and members of the Fisher family.