Morris Arts Announces the 2021 Ehlers and Coladarci Arts Scholarships Winners

Arts and Entertainment

March 3, 2021

Each year, Morris Arts offers two scholarship opportunities for graduating high school seniors who have exhibited artistic excellence in dance, drama, music, or visual arts and plan to pursue post-secondary studies at an accredited institution or acknowledged arts school or fine arts program. The Elaine Ehlers Arts Scholarship, in the amount of $5,000, and The Eugenie Coladarci Arts Scholarship, in the amount of $1,500, were created to recognize artistic excellence, encourage the artists of the future, and to celebrate the value of the arts to the human experience.

The Elaine Ehlers Arts Scholarship was established in 2002 in memory of Elaine Ehlers (1953-2001), a health-care administrator by profession, who had a voracious appetite for all things artistic and musical.  She derived intellectual and emotional sustenance from the arts and supported programs at many museums and musical institutions.  By establishing this scholarship, an enduring legacy has been created to reward those who possess artistic talent and who plan to further their arts education. 

The 2021 Ehlers Arts Scholarship winner, visual artist Peyton McGarry, a graduating senior at Chatham High School, will pursue studies in art and architecture at Syracuse University next fall. She sought years of additional training - in fashion design, interior design, and technical drawing / architecture at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology as well as drawing, painting (landscapes, portraits, still life, contemporary art) in a variety of media at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey (Summit) as well as ceramics and sculpture at Madison Mud. Among other awards, Peyton won the nationwide Scholastic Art and Writing Gold Key Award for her powerful sculpture, "Gun Re-form” – which she created in response to the Sandy Hook killings and which was displayed at the Montclair Art Museum. The maturity of her vision, the range of her subject matter, her technically polished execution, mastery of multiple media and the abundant creativity of her portfolio greatly impressed the panel. As one recommender wrote: “She takes advantage of each moment to create, revise and critique. She brings her ideas to life with superior craftsmanship and finesse.” Another stated, “Peyton’s creativity is limitless. She has pursued every art and design class offered at CHS and has demonstrated a clear passion and gift for visual art, architectural and 3D design and fashion design.”

Eugenie Coladarci Arts Scholarship was first awarded in 1999 in memory of Eugenie R. Coladarci, who was Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations at Chase Manhattan Bank and an active member of Morris Arts for eleven years. She was completing her first term as Board Chair when she passed away in 1997.  As a statewide champion of the arts, Genie encouraged the development of young artists and believed in the value of the arts to the quality of life.  The idea of a scholarship to assist talented young people wishing to continue their study in the arts was very important to her. 

This year’s Coladarci Scholarship winner is soprano, Ananya Vasireddy, a graduating senior at The Academy for Mathematics, Science and Engineering at Morris Hills High School who will be attending Stanford University next fall. She plans to minor in music and/or pursue a certificate in voice, sing in Stanford’s chamber chorale and join their Raagapella a capella group, combining her love of classical Western and Indian music. Ananya trained at Westminster Choir College – in their highly selective Solo Vocal Artist Program (by audition only) and their Contemporary Vocal Institute, where she won a merit scholarship and performed improvisation/jazz solos. 

Additionally, she studied voice and classical guitar at the Lindeblad School of Music and continued private lessons in classical voice and musical theatre vocal training with a Montclair State/University of Oklahoma voice professor.  Among her many honors, she qualified for the All Eastern Honor Mixed Choir, ranked among the top 10 of Soprano 2s in All State Mixed Choir and placed 1st in the 2020 Morris Area Choral Directors’ Association Honor Choir. Her voice was featured in the Penn Masala’s Gaana Masala (Bollywood Fusion Music) competition video and she soloed in a Carnegie Hall performance of Haydn’s “The Mermaid’s Song.”  At the Governor’s School for Engineering & Technology, Ananya’s team built a generative music machine learning model that could produce original songs in seconds. She wrote eloquently of exploring not only Indian and Western classical music traditions but also the interconnections between the arts and sciences. Her impressive performance video demonstrated a true natural talent, with nuanced phrasing, outstanding intonation, fine breath control, centered and rounded vocal production, a wide dynamic range, excellent diction, a mastery of foreign languages, and an exceptional ability to convey the meaning of the text she was singing. One recommender stated, “...she sings like an angel” while another cited “her gift of a beautiful voice” and “...her ability to use languages and engage her audience.” 

Given this year’s unusually strong applicant pool, the panel also awarded three Honorable Mentions, in recognition of the exceptional achievements of these applicants: Composer (violinist/pianist) Kailyn Williams (Morristown Beard School), Actor (dancer/singer) Andrew Palmieri (Chatham High School) and Actor Ava Longarzo (Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child). The judges were unanimous in their choices. 

Morris Arts, located in Morristown, NJ, is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1973 dedicated to building community through the arts. Using the arts to inspire, connect and engage, Morris Arts serves as a resource for Morris County with a special focus on arts programming in the schools and in the community, arts advocacy, creative placemaking and support of the Morris Area community of artists and arts organizations.