Young Musicians Foundation Executive Director Walter Zooi and Artistic and Program Advisor Vijay Gupta introduced the inaugural cohort of Debut Fellowship recipients. The fellowship includes a $5,000 stipend, extensive professional development and direct experience in working with the students and communities that YMF serves.
The goals of the Debut Fellowship Program are to empower exceptional musical artists and educators to become effective change agents and advocates for the arts, especially music education, while broadening and deepening the work of YMF’s schools and sites educational programs. YMF currently provides music instruction to over 4,500 students at 26 partner schools and sites in underserved, under-resourced districts and communities. “Engaging our communities is essential, not only as some moral imperative to assuage our dedication to a rarified art form, but as a critical, viable and imminently imperative pathway to realizing our greatest good as artists and community members,” Gupta explained.
Debut fellows will receive professional development in community engagement; organization building and advocacy; communications and fundraising; and other areas crucial to developing and maintaining effective initiatives for systemic change.
The recipients were selected based on their demonstrated commitment to social justice and systemic change through the arts in education, specific expertise or concentration in community-based arts education or programming, and diversity of experiences in terms of communities or populations served and areas of interest. “The diversity and depth of experiences, accomplishments and interests this cohort brings to YMF is fantastic,” Walter Zooi commented. “We’re excited by the many possibilities for change and growth for the fellows themselves and for YMF as an organization.”
The first cohort of Debut Fellows includes Nina Shekhar, James Sherry and Federico Zuniga.
Shekhar, a composition graduate student at the University of Southern California, completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan, earning dual degrees in music composition and chemical engineering and graduating summa cum laude.
Sherry served as director of instrumental music at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Dubuque and Mahidol University College of Music in Thailand. He holds a D.M.A. and doctorate in music education from the Peabody Conservatory and University of Iowa, respectively.
Zuniga is active in the Latin alternative music community. Currently, he is teaching Son Jarocho alongside Jarocho master Cesar Castro for the Arts in Corrections Program via the Alliance for California Traditional Arts at Norco State Prison.
For information, visit ymf.org/debut-fellows.
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