ARTS / MUSIC
First China-US music school Tianjin Juilliard starts graduate classes amid COVID-19 pandemic
Published: Dec 15, 2020 06:28 PM

Tianjin Juilliard School Faculty & Student Concert Photo: Courtesy of the Tianjin Juilliard School



One of the performance halls at 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 make up the 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.

Sorokoletova 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 influence the COVID-19 pandemic has had on travel restrictions. After the Foreign Affairs Office of the Tianjin Municipal Government contacted the embassy and introduced the school, the latter finally agreed to give Sorokoletova her visa. 

Brose explained that they needed all 39 graduate students to arrive at the school as otherwise the student orchestra would not be complete and therefore unable to rehearse and perform. 

Sorokoletova has already arrived at the campus and started her studies. She told the Global Times that all staff members at the school have been 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.

Students interested in studying at the school must 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 upon graduation.

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 a 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.

Ample opportunities

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.

At the Tianjin Juilliard School, students are given ample opportunities to take part in solo, chamber, and orchestral concerts. The school has three state-of-the-art performing venues which form the cornerstones of the new campus. Through performances in the concert hall, recital hall, and black box theater, students can refine their performance skills and connect with audiences through music.

The largest hall, the Concert Hall, has 687 seats and is the main venue for large orchestral and ensemble performances, special events and recitals.  

The smallest has 250 seats and, as a multi-purpose space, can host music performances or multi-disciplinary programs.  

The school is also offering free public performances. After registering online, audiences can access performances presented by the school's students and teachers at its landmark new building.
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