A quintet from the Juilliard School performs in Tianjin on June 15 to mark the 800-day countdown ceremony for the Tianjin Juilliard School's opening in September 2019. [Photo provided to China Daily]
A year before he steps down as the president of the Juilliard School, the New York-based performing arts conservatory, Joseph Polisi, the school's sixth and longest-serving president, has fulfilled his vision of global expansion.
The school has broken ground for its first overseas campus in China－the Tianjin Juilliard School.
"Having this program in China means that the Juilliard School has a global presence," the 70-year-old says.
Polisi is a bassoon player and took his position at Juilliard in 1984.
"It (the expansion) is something that I am deeply committed to. I will continue to be involved in this project after I step down, overseeing standards, procedures and processes," he says.
Polisi was in Tianjin for the ceremony at the Yujiapu Pilot Free Trade Zone in the Tianjin Binhai New Area, a one-hour high-speed train journey from the capital.
The Tianjin Juilliard School, which is scheduled to open in September 2019, will offer US-accredited full-time master's degrees in orchestral performance, chamber-music performance and collaborative piano.
It'll also offer part-time programs for pre-college students, adult education and public performances.
More than 200 students will join the graduate program for a Master of Music degree in 2019. They're selected by interviews and TOEFL test scores.
All the courses will be taught in English by resident faculty, comprising Chinese and US teachers, and a constant flow of faculty from the Juilliard School in New York.
Charles Renfro, partner and architect at Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the company that's designing the Tianjin Juilliard School's facilities, says the building will cover about 35,000 square meters.
Four pavilions will flank the main building. Each will have a performance space.
The school, which is located along the Binhai River, is about a 10-minute walk from the train station.
The lobby of the school will be open to the public, which allows people to see the practice rooms and hear the sounds of music being taught and made.
"This will be a new hub for the entire region and a new destination for people who want to experience music," says Renfro.
Polisi says the school will introduce two core values.
One is to require students to be involved in working in communities, such as hospitals and senior centers, playing their music for patients and the elderly people there. The other is to develop student entrepreneurship by asking them to think about public speaking, effective writing and presentation.
"We do not just want to train the younger generation musicians ... but also produce efficient and happy young people," says Polisi.
A drawing of the Tianjin Juilliard School's main entrance. [Photo provided to China Daily]
Tianjin Conservatory of Music president Xu Changjun says: "The project, an acknowledgment of the growing market for classical music in China, will offer more opportunities to Chinese music students and even students from East Asian countries."
About six years ago, the Juilliard School was introduced to its partners in Tianjin: the Tianjin Conservatory of Music, the Tianjin Binhai New Area CBD Administrative Commission and the Tianjin Innovative Finance Investment Co.
The deal for the school was announced by Polisi when China's first lady, Peng Liyuan, visited the Juilliard School in New York on Sept 28, 2015, while accompanying President Xi Jinping on his weeklong state visit to the United States.
The Juilliard School, founded in New York in 1905, has trained some of the world's best artists, including Van Cliburn, Renee Fleming and Yo-Yo Ma.
The Juilliard School has enrolled students from China since the 1920s.
Now, 30 percent of the students at the Juilliard School in New York are from outside the US. Currently, students from China form the largest single group of overseas students in the school.
There are about 70 students from China, most of whom are in the music division.
Alexander Brose, the former vice-president for development at the Aspen Music Festival and School, was appointed as executive director and CEO of the Tianjin Juilliard School, while Chinese-American violinist He Wei is the school's first artistic director.
As for his plans, Brose says: "Before the school in Tianjin officially opens in 2019, we will arrange a series of activities as a warmup, such as Juilliard orchestras touring in China and forums in Tianjin."
Violinist He, who was born in Chengdu, Sichuan province, and trained at the Sichuan Music Conservatory before going to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, will build the school's resident faculty and plan its artistic programs.
He has been teaching at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music for about 20 years.
In 2011, he helped initiate the annual San Francisco-Shanghai International Chamber Music Festival with the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.
"During the past decades, I have frequently traveled to China to work with local conservatories," he says.
He will move to Tianjin along with his wife this August to start recruiting resident faculty members.
"I am looking forward to fostering artistic ties between China and the US. For example, we will mix Western and Chinese instruments in our performances," he says.
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Joseph Polisi, head of Juilliard School. [Photo provided to China Daily]
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