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Past Harvardwood Artist Launch Fellowship Winners

June 27, 2023

Past Harvardwood Artist Launch Fellowship Winners

2023-2024 Mia and David Alpert Harvardwood Artist Launch Fellowship Winners

Harvardwood is pleased to announce that filmmaker/visual artist Uzo Ngwu (AB ‘23) and conductor/composer Benjamin Perry Wenzelberg (AB ‘21) are the recipients of the second annual Mia and David Alpert Harvardwood Artist Launch Fellowship. In addition to receiving a $24,000 grant to support their work, each Fellow will be paired with a mentor in their field to offer professional guidance and support during the term of the Fellowship.Ms. Ngwu will spend her fellowship year focusing on completing the production of her 2D animated film MMANWU, which began as her thesis project. Uzo will be mentored by renowned filmmaker Mark Osborne. Mr. Osborne is known for his work in both animation and live-action directing. He gained acclaim for co-directing the highly praised film Kung Fu Panda, which garnered an Academy Award nomination and earned over $630 million worldwide. Mr. Osborne's other notable achievements include his award-winning stop-motion animated short More and his contributions to the popular TV series SpongeBob SquarePants, as well as being a recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship. His diverse portfolio showcases his talent and creativity in both animation and live-action storytelling.Mr. Wenzelberg will spend his fellowship year continuing in the second year of the National Master in Orchestral Conducting program in Amsterdam, as well as participating in the 2023 Mahler Competition in Bamberg, Germany and pursuing conducting opportunities in Europe. He will also pursue avenues to advance his original opera and senior thesis, NIGHTTOWN, which has just won a 2023 ASCAP Morton Gould Composer Award and whose premiere recording will be featured in the 2023 Bloomsday Film Festival in Ireland. Benjamin’s mentor will be conductor Alan Gilbert (AB ‘89). Mr. Gilbert is principal conductor of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra and music director of Royal Swedish Opera. He was music director of the New York Philharmonic from 2009 to 2017 and principal conductor of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra from 2000 to 2008. He holds the title of conductor laureate with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic.In addition to the two Fellows, Harvardwood named six finalists who will each receive a $500 grant to support their work. The finalists are writer Josette Abugov (AB ‘23), mixed media artist Treasure Brooks (AB ‘22), comedian Emma Choi (AB ‘23), performer/writer Ashley Cooper (AB ‘21), musician/composer Devon Gates (AB ‘23), and dancer Osazi Al Khaliq (AB ‘23). The Harvardwood Artist Launch Fellowship was created in 2022 with a gift from Harvardwood co-Founder Mia Riverton Alpert (AB ’99) and her husband, producer and media entrepreneur David Alpert (AB ‘97). The Fellowship is open to graduating seniors or recent Harvard alumni working or seeking to work in the arts, media, and entertainment fields. It is awarded annually to at least one artist, with each term running from June 1 through May 31 of the following year.“Creating more equitable access to careers in the arts has been a lifelong passion and was a motivating force behind Harvardwood’s founding 24 years ago. David and I, along with the selection committee, were overwhelmed by the tremendous talent in the Fellowship applicant pool. We are honored to support Uzo, Benjamin, the Finalists, and the next generation of emerging Harvard artists as they begin their professional journeys,” said Mia Riverton Alpert.

2023-2023 Mia and David Alpert Harvardwood Artist Launch Fellowship Winners

Harvardwood congratulates writer Youmna Chamieh ‘22 and musical theater composer/lyricist Julia Riew ‘22, who are the recipients of the inaugural Mia and David Alpert Harvardwood Artist Launch Fellowship.

In addition to receiving a $24,000 grant to support her work, each Fellow will be paired with an alumni mentor to offer professional guidance and support during the term of the Fellowship (June 1, 2022 through May 31, 2023).

Youmna Chamieh is a senior in Adams House studying Government and English. Originally from Lebanon, she grew up in Paris with her two sisters. During the fellowship year, she will work on original pieces, including a collection of short stories. Though these stories all gravitate towards Lebanon, at their core is the belief that, as Salman Rushdie puts it, “the past is a country from which we have all emigrated, whose loss is part of our common humanity.”

Youmna’s mentor will be Jennifer Joel ’98, who is a literary agent, partner, co-head of the Publications department and member of the board at ICM Partners, where she represents a diverse group of writers of both fiction and nonfiction: literary and commercial novelists for adults and young readers, historians, biographers, memoirists, journalists, strategists, adventurers and entertainers. Her clients include Senator Cory Booker, Chris Cleave, Nelson DeMille, AJ Finn, Stuart Gibbs, Graham Moore, Evan Osnos, Shonda Rhimes, Adam Rubin, Jennifer E. Smith, Lisa Taddeo and Leif Babin & Jocko Willink.

Julia Riew is a senior in Lowell House studying Theater, Dance, Media (TDM) and Music. In 2018, Julia co-founded the Asian Student Arts Project (ASAP) and co-wrote their first production, The East Side. Her   recent works include Alice’s Wonderland; Jack and the Beanstalk: A Musical Adventure which was commissioned for the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.)’s 2020 Family Musical; and Thumbelina: A Little Musical (The A.R.T. 2019 Family Musical).

Julia will spend her Fellowship year creating new musical theater projects for stage and screen and further developing her senior thesis, an original musical called Shimcheong: A Folktale. Her mentor will be award-winning composer/lyricist/writer Laurence O’Keefe ‘91(Legally Blonde: The Musical, Bat Boy: The Musical).

Due to the strong display of talent in the inaugural Fellowship applicant pool, Harvardwood and the sponsors doubled their initial commitment to support two Fellowship winners, and they also named five finalists who will each receive a $1000 grant to support their work. Those finalists are writer Juan Arenas ‘22, visual artist Kelsey Chen ‘22, writer-director Jasiel Lampkin ‘20, musician-composer Ria Modak ‘22, and comedian Freddie Shanel ‘21.

Update: The inaugural Harvardwood Artist Launch Fellows, Julia Riew (AB ‘22) and Youmna Chamieh (AB ‘22), both had extraordinarily successful years. Julia Riew has been named the 2022 Fred Ebb Award winner, Playbill’s Featured Songwriter of the Month, and a Woman to Watch on Broadway. Playbill recently announced the development of her musical Dive for the American Repertory Theater with Tony Award winning director Diane Paulus (AB ‘88) and GLAAD Award winning playwright Diana Son.

Youmna Chamieh is developing a collection of short stories, one of which has evolved into a longer work of fiction. After the fellowship ends, she will be moving to Lebanon to write full-time. One of her short stories, “Transposition”, is forthcoming in the July 2023 edition of Harper's Bazaar, and a long-form narrative nonfiction piece is forthcoming in Harper's Magazine later this year.

For more information on the Harvardwood Artist Launch Fellowship, click HERE.

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