ARTS / MUSIC
First China-US music school Tianjin Juilliard starts graduate program amid COVID-19 pandemic
Published: Dec 14, 2020 03:33 PM

The landmark building of the Tianjin Juilliard School Photo: Courtesy of the Tianjin Juilliard School

The Tianjin Juilliard School, the first performing arts institution in China to offer a US-accredited Master of Music degree, has kicked off its graduate courses amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The graduate program brings together 39 graduate students from 11 countries around the world, including South Korea and Canada, to the school, which was co-founded by The Juilliard School in New York and the Tianjin Conservatory of Music.

The 39 students are inaugural class majoring in Orchestral Studies, Chamber Music and Collaborative Piano. Among them, 61 percent are Chinese students and 39 percent are international. 

Everyone or No One 

All of the international students have overcome difficulties to get to the campus in North China's Tianjin Municipality. Alexander Brose, Executive Director and CEO of the school, told a story about Alla Sorokoletova, a student from Uzbekistan who is currently a flute major at the school.

Alla went to the Chinese Embassy in Uzbekistan several times to apply for her student visa, but she was turned away each time due to the special situation in 2020. After the Foreign Affairs Office of the Tianjin Municipal Government contacted the Embassy and introduced the school, the latter finally agreed to give Alla her visa. 

Brose explained that they needed all 39 graduate students to arrive at the school as otherwise the orchestra consisting of students would not be complete and therefore would not be able to rehearse and perform. There would be only four cello players but without oboe, flute and some other instrument players.

Alla has already arrived at the campus and started her study. She told the Global Times that all staff members at the school are friendly and helpful, so she has not been homesick despite living in a far-off city.

International Cooperation

The Juilliard School in New York manages the school in partnership with the Tianjin Conservatory of Music, the Tianjin Binhai New Area Administrative Commission and the Tianjin Innovative Finance Investment Company. The announcement on the initiation of the project was made at a ceremony attended by China's First Lady Peng Liyuan in 2015.

One of performance halls of the Tianjin Juilliard School Photo: Courtesy of the Tianjin Juilliard School

Students interested in studying at the school need to provide the same application materials including TOEFL scores as required by the New York Juilliard School and will get a degree granted by the latter when graduating.

Cooperation between the two schools takes many forms, with some students receiving instructions online from teachers in New York. 

When the pandemic eventually passes, it is expected that the people-to-people exchanges between the two schools will become more frequent. Teachers in New York will come to Tianjin and students at the school will have the chance to travel to the US for lessons and performances.

"I'll just add that obviously,this has been a very difficult time period for China-US relations," Brose told the Global Times. 

"But throughout that entire time,the support that we've received from our partners in Tianjin and from our partners in Beijing has been unwavering."

"So we feel that we have already served as a cultural bridge between the two countries and we know that we will be able to continue to do so in the years ahead," he added.

Besides graduate courses, the school also offers Pre-College lessons to students aged 8-18 every Saturday. Nearly 90 students from different places around China, including Beijing, the island of Taiwan and Hong Kong have been enrolled in the program.

Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the campus covers about 45,000 square meters along the Haihe River in Tianjin. The school has 22 teaching studios and 84 practice rooms for students.

The school is also open to the public with three performance halls of various sizes. After registering online, audiences can access performances presented by the school's students and teachers in its landmark new building. 


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