Young Musicians Foundation (YMF) Executive Director Walter Zooi and Artistic and Program Advisor Vijay Gupta introduced the inaugural Debut Fellowship recipients. The Fellowship includes a $5,000 stipend, extensive professional development and direct experience in working with the students and communities 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 educational programs. YMF provides music instruction to over 4,500 students at 26 partner schools and sites in underserved, under-resourced communities. “Engaging our communities is essential: not only as some moral imperative to assuage our dedication to a rarified art form,” explained Gupta, “but as a critical, viable and imminently imperative pathway to realizing our greatest good as artists – and community members.”
By working directly with the student and community populations YMF serves, Debut Fellows will receive professional development in Community Engagement, Organization Building and Advocacy, Communications and Fundraising, and other areas crucial to developing effective initiatives for systemic change.
The cohorts were selected based on their commitment to social justice and systemic change through the arts in education, specific expertise in community-based arts education, 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,” commented Zooi, “we’re excited by the many possibilities for change and growth for the Fellows themselves and for YMF as an organization.”
First Debut Fellows recipients:
Nina Shekhar is a composition graduate student at USC. She earned dual undergraduate degrees in music composition and chemical engineering at the University of Michigan graduating summa cum laude.
Dr. James Sherry holds a DMA from the Peabody Conservatory and a PhD in Music Education from the University of Iowa. He served as Director of Instrumental Music at the Johns Hopkins University, the University of Dubuque, Mahidol University College of Music in Thailand.
Federico Zuniga is active in the Latin alternative music community. 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 more information on YMF’s Debut Fellows visit ymf.org/debut-fellowship.