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Gifted 11-year-old NJ musician to play in Switzerland with Juilliard School summer program

SEACAUCUS, NJ — Sonatina Opus 20 Number 1 by Danish composer Friedrich Kuhlau is her favorite song to play.

Mili, 11, can sing in Sanskrit, Tamil and other ancient Indian languages, as well as Italian, German and of course, English.

“We noticed that since before she could talk, she was singing,” mom Jyoti Rathi said. “I would definitely call her a prodigy. She plays very diverse things. She plays piano. She sings western classical music. And she sings in south asian languages."

But it was her ability to perform on the piano that is taking her to Switzerland this summer. The graduating 5th-grader has already performed at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. And now — she’ll join talented kids from around the world for an intensive summer program run by the Juilliard School for 2 weeks in Geneva.

“In my opinion, music is like a universal language. So it’s like everyone is connected with music, different cultures,” the 11-year-old girl said..

She found out this week that she was accepted.

“I was like, 'uh what?!' I was just shocked,” she said.

Mili has been playing piano since she was 5-years-old. She says music helps her stay in touch with her Indian heritage, but it’s also a way to destress after studying. After all, she is also a straight A+ student.

“I think music is something that calms people,” her mother said. “It’s a beautiful thing in a world full of chaos.”