Nine-year-old Mehar Vilkhu is a gifted student ranked in the top 20 out of 4,000 in Canada and like many gifted students, Mehar likes to be challenged. She attends a Spanish immersion school, studies Punjabi and Chinese, works at a high school level and started learning the piano when she was just five years old.
Now the gifted youngster will cross one more milestone off her list after being the youngest applicant accepted to the Juilliard School’s Summer Performing Arts Program to study music in Geneva, Switzerland.
“I was shocked because I didn’t know that they would accept my pieces,” Mehar said of her audition. “I’m most looking forward to improving my skills and technical abilities and working with the best teachers.”
Mehar’s father Gurbinder Vilkhu said his daughter’s piano teacher had the idea of applying to Juilliard, suggesting the family take a “long shot” by auditioning for the prestigious school. While the Vilkhus know their daughter is talented, Gurbinder said he was still surprised when the family was personally contacted by the school to say Mehar was accepted for summer courses.
“I am very proud, you can’t even imagine,” Gurbinder said. “The day we got their email and a call from the general manager from Juilliard, that’s totally unheard of.”
The well-spoken, gifted youngster loves skiing and has said her goal is to become a pediatric nurse with Doctors Without Borders. Mehar wants to one day play Carnegie Hall and use her skills as a musician to fund her dream of working with children in underprivileged countries.
Mehar’s mother PJ Vilkhu said her daughter is a regular kid, but Mehar’s accelerated progress has always been “the norm.”
Mehar and Gurbinder will travel to Switzerland in July for two weeks of intensive training with some of the world’s top pianists.
“We will be doing a little more on reaching out to any sources that we can,” Gurbinder said. “For me it’s more to fulfill your kid’s dreams and make sure they are going in the right direction.”