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Musician Chris Thile honored as outstanding alum
Chris Thile's 2014 Outstanding Alumni in Fine Arts award was presented to his parents, Scott and Kathy Thile, during the annual Taste of the Arts Dinner and Auction at Murray State University by Dr. Pam Wurgler (right), chair of the MSU department of musi

MURRAY, Ky. -- Grammy Award-winning musician Chris Thile won the 2014 Outstanding Alumni in Fine Arts award, presented at the sixth annual A Taste of the Arts Dinner and Auction at Murray State University in October.

Thile, of Punch Brothers, is a mandolin virtuoso, composer and vocalist. In a review of his latest release, Who's Feeling Young Now?, London's Independent called Thile "the most remarkable mandolinist in the world." The MacArthur Foundation echoed that assessment when it named Thile one of its 23 MacArthur Fellows for 2012. In honoring Thile, the MacArthur Foundation noted that his "lyrical fusion of traditional bluegrass with elements from a range of other musical traditions is giving rise to a new genre of contemporary music."

A child prodigy, Thile first rose to fame as a member of the Grammy Award-winning trio Nickel Creek. Thile also won a 2012 Grammy for Best Folk Album for The Goat Rodeo Sessions, recorded with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Stuart Duncan and bassist Edgar Meyer. As a soloist, Thile has released five albums, including his most recent solo recording released in 2013, Bach: Partitas and Sonatas, Vol.1.

"He is a model of artistry, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship," said Dr. Pamela Wurgler, chair of the department of music. "As a musician and composer, Chris is 'hot' right now. Everyone wants to hear him perform -- they want to hear his compositions, too. He is an inspiring model for our students."

Thile's parents, Scott and Kathy Thile of Murray, accepted the award on behalf of their son. In a taped acceptance speech, Thile credited Murray State with influencing his identity as a musician. He praised the department of music as an environment that fostered and encouraged curiosity, and he noted the faculty's open-mindedness, mentioning specifically his time with Dr. Stephen Brown. Thile described this award as incredible and emotional because of how much his time at Murray State means to him. Thile is working with the university to coordinate a visit to campus in 2015.

The Outstanding Alumni in the Fine Arts Award is presented annually at A Taste of the Arts Auction and Dinner event. An inspiring evening for arts enthusiasts, this event is a unique and entertaining auction gala showcasing performances by Murray State's most talented students in music and theater with fine dining as well as silent and live auctions. All proceeds benefit Murray State University scholarships in art, music and theater. More than $23,000 was raised in support of arts scholarships at the campus event.

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