Vilcek Foundation Awards Celebrate Immigrant Musicians with


NEW YORK, Oct. 18, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Vilcek Foundation announces the recipients of the 2023 Vilcek Foundation Awards in the Arts and Humanities, as part of the Vilcek Foundation Awards Program. Awarded annually in a rotating category, the Vilcek Foundation Awards in the Arts and Humanities recognize and celebrate immigrants’ contributions to intellectual and cultural life in the United States and underscore the value of immigration to a robust society. .

In 2023, the Vilcek Foundation Prizes in Arts and Humanities are awarded in music. The foundation awards five prizes totaling $350,000 in scholarships. Two main prizes – the Vilcek Music Prizes – each include a cash prize of $100,000. Three additional prizes – the Vilcek Awards for Creative Promise in Music – each include a cash prize of $50,000.

The Vilcek Music Prizes

The 2023 Vilcek Music Prizes are awarded to Du Yun and Angélique Kidjo. The co-founder, vice-president and secretary of the Vilcek Foundation, Marica Vilcek, explained the decision to award two prizes.

“With the 2023 Vilcek Music Prizes, it was important for us to recognize a range of musicians: from those found in classical music halls to songwriters and performers whose music is pulsating on airwaves around the world,” Vilcek said. “Music transcends language, boundaries and boundaries. The work of Du Yun and Angélique Kidjo exemplifies this, from Du Yun’s gripping operas and electrifying postmodern compositions to Kidjo’s charismatic presence on the world stage over the years. past four decades.”

Vilcek Foundation President Rick Kinsel shared similar sentiments. “The scope of Du Yun and Angélique Kidjo’s work defies easy categorization,” he said. “Du Yun’s virtuoso range is evident from his operas to his avant-garde projects like Shark in you and cockroach tarantella—his work bridges the gap between sound art and classical composition. Kidjo’s prolific writing, albums and collaborations have brought African music to the mainstream, while introducing generations of listeners to Afropop, Afrobeat and traditional West African music. . He continued, “The respective influence of the two artists illustrates the broad impact of immigrants on culture and society. »

Du Yun receives the Vilcek Prize in Music for his open approach to composition, which subverts the boundaries of traditional classical music by incorporating influences from punk, electronic and experimental music, and for the virtuosity of his award-winning opera Angel’s Bone. Pulitzer Prize.

Born in Shanghai, China, Du Yun began studying piano at the age of four and began attending the preparatory divisions of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music at the age of six. She came to the United States to pursue graduate studies in music, earning her bachelor’s degree at the Oberlin Conservatory and her doctorate. in musical composition at Harvard University. In 2001, Du Yun co-founded the International Contemporary Ensemble with the goal of advancing the genre of experimental music through collaborations, commissions, and performances.

Angélique Kidjo receives the Vilcek Music Prize in recognition of her outstanding range as a singer-songwriter and for bringing African music to the world stage through her performances, albums and collaborations. Born in Ouidah, Benin, Kidjo made her musical debut with the album Pretty in 1981. She rose to international fame in the 1990s with albums like Logozo, Stilland Fifa. In 1997 Kidjo immigrated to the United States, moving to Brooklyn, New York. Since then, she has continued to write, record and tour extensively, while undertaking humanitarian work as an international goodwill ambassador for UNICEF and with the Batonga Foundation, which she founded in 2006.

The Vilcek Awards for Creative Promise in Music

The Vilcek Awards for Creative Promise in Music are given to early- and mid-career immigrant musicians, composers, and music producers living and working in the United States. Recipients are selected for the professional and creative quality of their work: musical compositions and performances that represent significant contributions to their genres, and that resonate and inspire both performers and audiences.

The Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise in Music are awarded to Arooj Aftab, Juan Pablo Contreras and Ruby Ibarra.

Arooj Aftab receives the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Music for his evocative songs and compositions that incorporate a range of influences from semi-classical Pakistani music and Urdu poetry to jazz harmonies and experimental music. His blend of ancient traditions and contemporary flair has earned him mainstream recognition, including a 2022 Grammy nomination for Best New Artist and a 2022 Grammy for Best Worldwide Performance for Mohabbat. Born in Saudi Arabia to Pakistani parents, Aftab found in music an outlet for self-identification and discovery. She immigrated to the United States in 2005 to pursue studies in music composition and engineering at Berklee College of Music.

Juan Pablo Contreras receives the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Music for his work as a composer and conductor of orchestral music inspired by his Mexican heritage, and for his leadership in founding the Orquesta Latino Mexicana. Contreras’ compositions tell stories about Mexico from the perspective of immigrants. A dedicated teacher and mentor, Contreras seeks to empower the next generation of musicians and foster equity and inclusion in orchestral programming and seeks to expand the classical music curriculum beyond its traditionally Eurocentric orientation. Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, Contreras immigrated to the United States in 2006. He is a graduate of the California Institute of the Arts (BFA), Manhattan School of Music (MM), and University of Southern California (DMA ).

Ruby Ibarra receives the Vilcek Award for Creative Promise in Music for her personal and evocative performances in hip-hop and spoken word that center her experiences as a Filipino American woman and an immigrant growing up in the San Bay Area. Francisco. Born in Tacloban City in the Philippines, Ibarra immigrated to the United States with her family in 1991. Her first mixtape, Lost in translation, and his 2017 album, CIRCA91, explore themes such as immigration, colorism and misogyny. In addition to her music, Ibarra is a dedicated activist, and in 2018 she founded the Pinays Rising scholarship program.

The Vilcek Foundation

The Vilcek Foundation raises awareness of the contributions of immigrants to the United States and promotes appreciation of the arts and sciences. The foundation was established in 2000 by Jan and Marica Vilcek, immigrants from the former Czechoslovakia. The foundation’s mission was inspired by the couple’s respective careers in biomedical sciences and art history. Since 2000, the foundation has awarded more than $7 million in awards to foreign-born individuals and supported organizations with more than $5.8 million in grants.

The Vilcek Foundation is a privately operating foundation, a nonprofit organization exempt from federal income tax under IRS section 501(c)(3). To learn more, visit

Contact information:
Elizabeth Boylan
Communications Manager
[email protected]

Related Files

VFP 2023 Press Release – Music – Newswire.pdf

Related Images

Image 1: The 2023 laureates of the Vilcek Foundation in music

A photograph of the 2023 Vilcek Foundation Music Prize winners: Du Yun, Angélique Kidjo, Arooj Aftab, Juan Pablo Contreras and Ruby Ibarra.

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  • The 2023 Laureates of the Vilcek Foundation in Music


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