Sponsored Fellowships: Ana Paola Santillan Alcocer

“Symbiosis,” the title of Mexican composer Ana Paola Santillan Alcocer’s three-movement piece for piano and cello composed during her two-month residency, could easily define her VCCA experience as well. As a participant in the UNESCO ASCHBERG Bursaries for Artists program, which annually sponsors a two-month residency at the VCCA for a Latin American composer under the age of 45, Paola found her work mirrored by the valuable personal and professional exchanges she enjoyed at the VCCA.

Living communally with visual artists, composers and writers during the summer of 2005 in an atmosphere of cooperation and mutual respect was, by her own evaluation, a turning point in her life and career.

“It was very important to me to interact with other artists and I found the VCCA a perfect place for that,” she says. “Just listening to other artists’ lives and exploring their art was a unique experience for me.”

Her musical compositions, influenced by the folk music of Mexico, were given several presentations during her productive stay at VCCA, which even included an Aztec-inspired dinner she prepared one night for Fellows and staff.

After leaving the VCCA, Symbiosis was performed at Mexico City’s Palacio de Bellas Artes. Currently the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship studying musical composition in the graduate program at Rice University in Houston, Texas, Paola remembers her time at the VCCA with gratitude and appreciation. She acknowledges that being awarded a fellowship, while being sponsored by the UNESCO program, represented a happy confluence of events that continues to impact her work.