Francisco J. Núñez, 44, is the founder and artistic director of the Young People’s Chorus of New York City, a youth choir as diverse as the city it calls home. This is a busy time of year for members of the group: On Thursday they sing in the St. Patrick’s Cathedral Christmas Concert and on Friday and Saturday, they perform at Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops. Mr. Núñez, a native New Yorker, lives on the Upper West Side with his wife, Elizabeth, their 22-month-old son, Sebastián, and two Italian greyhounds, Coda and Dixie.
UP WITH THE SON No matter what time I go to sleep, at 6:30 the alarm goes off. “Dada! Dada?” It’s my baby crying, he’s like an alarm clock. So I give him his morning milk and we hang out in his room and play. Then his mom wakes up and we play music. He likes to dance, and he likes salsa, merengue. All Latino. He likes music with a beat.
WRITING, COMPOSING Breakfast happens and I try to get some work done. I do most of my work in the mornings. I’ll lock myself up. I’m writing this book on children’s choirs. Also I’ll be composing and arranging. I have commissions. We’re doing a concert at the Japanese chamber of commerce and I’m writing a song that we can sing in Japanese and English. It’s a combination of traditional Japanese music, American pop and gospel.
CHURCH, BRUNCH, PARK We try to go to church every Sunday, to the Manhattan Church of Christ at 80th and Madison. I’m Catholic but I go there anyway. My wife is Pentecostal. We happen to like that church. It’s multicultural, there’s young people, we happen to like the reverend there. We don’t dress up but we dress my son up. He’s cute! After church we go to brunch in some diner. Then we get the dogs and go back to the park.
SLOW FOOD We always talk early on about what we’re going to have for dinner. Other times, we’re always cooking real quick. Sunday can be the day to really focus. We gravitate to more of a meal, like to sit down and eat as a family. My wife really goes all out. On Sunday, food is quality time. The brunch is important. The dinner is important. It’s a conscious decision about food. And in New York City, food is usually unconscious. You just eat. It’s something you do while doing something more important.
ZONED Then we’ll just plop in front of the TV during my son’s nap. We will do nothing. I love watching the news, I go between MSNBC and Fox, which I think is hilarious. My wife likes HGTV. So it’s between the three channels, and she doesn’t understand why I’m watching the same news over and over. Sometimes we get stuck on the Weather Channel. I never know why. It seems to be the compromise.
WINDING UP Dinner happens, the baby wakes up, we’re playing with the baby. We constantly clean the house. I walk the dogs. We listen to country and a lot of Latino music. My wife’s from the South, she likes bluegrass. A lot of telephone calls also happen on a Sunday. My son is running all over the place, screaming, playing. So it’s very relaxing.
EARLY TO BED I go to bed between 9 and 11. Sometimes I’m so exhausted. When you’re always working, you don’t realize how tired you are. My wife always stays up later, until midnight or one. I don’t know how she does it. I’m on my fourth dream by the time she falls asleep.