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6 Artists Receive Vilar Fellowships - 2002-03-27

Six young performing artists have been named the first recipients of the Vilar Global Fellowships, modeled after the prestigious Rhodes Scholarships.

Philanthropist Alberto Vilar set up the fellowships at New York University last year with a grant of $23 million. His goal is to help exceptional young performing artists from all over the world come to New York for two years of graduate study and training with top teachers in acting, dance, design, filmmaking, instrumental performance, jazz studies and musical composition.

NYU President Jay Oliva says the performing arts owe a great deal to Mr. Vilar, who has devoted much of the fortune he made in investments to art organizations all over the world. "Of all the philanthropists in the world, here is a man who has dedicated himself to the performing arts, whether it is the Metropolitan Opera, or the Kirov [ballet] or San Francisco [Opera] or the Kennedy Center [for the performing Arts], says Mr. Oliva. "Here is a man who understands the power of the performing arts in the world so that it is called the Vilar program is a big thing to me. Very important."

360 applicants from Europe and North America were winnowed down to 19, including candidates from the Czech Republic, England, Italy, Korea, Romania, Thailand and Turkey. The semi-finalists were brought to New York for auditions before an international selection committee. In the end, five of the winners were Americans.

The sixth, saxophone player Patricia Zarate, was born in Santiago, Chile, and studied jazz at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. "It means a lot because I really wanted to finish my Master's Degree," she says. "I actually started a couple of years ago and didn't finish. So I really wanted to finish and move to New York, which is the center of jazz and music therapy, which are two things that I really want to do."

Sponsors say the program is expanding. Regional selection committees will be established in Asia and South America in 2003 and in Africa and the Middle East in 2004.