VC INTERVIEW | Alex Brose and Wei He of the Tianjin Juilliard School

The Violin Channel recently caught up with the school's Executive Director and CEO,  Alex Brose, and the Artistic Director and Dean, Wei He

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Can you tell us about The Tianjin Juilliard School? How did this educational vision come to fruition?

Tianjin Juilliard is an artistic, educational, and architectural destination. The branch campus was envisioned as part of a comprehensive strategy to provide access to Juilliard’s world-class performing arts education across China and Asia. When Juilliard decided to expand its global presence back in 2008, we looked very carefully all around the world, and conducted a feasibility study before focusing primarily on East Asia, including China, Japan, and South Korea.

The municipality of Tianjin welcomed us to work with them to fulfill a broad mission, including community development, and we look forward to contributing to the region’s rich artistic heritage. Countless people in both the United States and China, including those at Juilliard in New York and our wonderful partners, have been working for as many as 10 years to make the opening of Tianjin Juilliard a reality.

We were thrilled to welcome our first class of Pre-College students in Fall 2019 and our inaugural Graduate Studies class this year! Our resident faculty, visiting faculty from New York, and guest artists are incredible teachers and resources for our students. The staff, students, and faculty were all thrilled to move into the new landmark building designed by renowned architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

This fall, our students have started taking classes, practicing, and rehearsing on campus, truly enjoying all the wonderful facilities and resources we offer them. We are so pleased that the students have started performing together in student recitals and orchestral concerts.

 

Your graduate degrees are U.S. accredited. How is the curriculum comparable to that of The Juilliard School, in New York?

The Tianjin Juilliard School aims to offer the authentic Juilliard experience through our music programs in China. Dance and drama are currently not offered at the branch campus. We offer a U.S. accredited Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School in three majors: orchestral studies, chamber music, and collaborative piano. The program requires two years of study and classes are conducted in English.

The curricula are very similar to New York’s. The difference is in the nature of the majors, as they are uniquely focused on the collaborative aspect, complementing the other programs offered in New York. Students can check out the degree requirements and courses on our website.

Tianjin Juilliard students in the Master of Music degree program have weekly private lessons with a teacher on their instrument, and this private study is supplemented by frequent coaching and opportunities to work with visiting faculty and guest artists.

 

What kind of learning experience can your students expect, living and studying in Tianjin?

Tianjin is a thriving metropolis brimming with new possibilities for the school to write a new chapter in the arts in Asia. We offer our students extensive performance opportunities through our partnerships with venues and peer institutions in the region. From the high-speed train station adjacent to the school in Binhai, one can reach downtown Tianjin in just over 20 minutes, or Beijing in one hour.

We recently co-hosted the Tianjin Chamber Music Festival where our students got to perform alongside our faculty and guest artists at the Tianjin Grand Theater. It has become an annual festival on the Tianjin cultural calendar. In the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, there are numerous renowned cultural institutions and performance spaces for students to explore. Our location in Binhai is also very accessible, making it very easy to travel from Tianjin to different parts of Asia.

Our students enjoy unparalleled support from the school and incredible resources to support them on their musical journey. A major highlight of the student experience is being able to perform in the stunning new performance spaces on campus, including the concert hall, recital hall, and a black box theatre.

 

The three graduate programs you are initially offering are for orchestral studies, chamber music, and collaborative piano. Can you explain why you made those choices in the context of Asia?

Our three graduate majors in orchestral studies, chamber music, and collaborative piano are distinctly collaborative in nature, and look to provide educational and artistic opportunities which complement the current performance environment in China.

In China, there is an incredible demand for musicians in these areas. There is a growing need for musicians to learn collaborative skills as they adapt and prepare for professional careers. Potential students and leaders in the classical music industry we surveyed all told us the same thing: the more aspiring professional musicians can train to listen, and collaborate with one another, the better, and programs of this type were especially desired in China, and Asia.

 

What kind of students are you hoping will come and join you?

We are looking for students who are fantastic musicians, who bring with them a deep curiosity, sense of adventure, and passion for learning. We seek musicians from across the world, who play exceptionally well, but who also feel just as comfortable in the community as they do on stage.

From the beginning, we knew Tianjin Juilliard would attract top talents not just from within China, but also Chinese students who had studied abroad, as well as international students from all over the world. The inaugural graduate class is made up of students from many countries and regions. Our international student body and faculty bring with them cultural diversity, rich educational experiences, and a wide range of perspectives. This helps to create the most ideal learning environment for our students.

 

Tianjin Juilliard also offers a number of programs for younger musicians, with the potential to lead into professional musical studies. Can you tell us more about these programs?

Tianjin Juilliard offers a Pre-College program for younger musicians aged 8-18. This program replicates the highly successful, audition-based, Saturday-only program offered to children in New York — something that was not offered in China previously, at least to this extent, to this same age group.

We look at their interest level and their love of music, and we are on the lookout for self-motivated students. China has the world’s largest pool of talented young music students, and the early training these students have received is phenomenal.

Our program encourages critical thinking, ensemble skills, and artistic expression. We are also developing our Public and Continuing Education Divisions serving students from different age groups, professional levels, backgrounds, and experiences. Our exciting and innovative music programs and projects exemplify Tianjin Juilliard’s educational values and approach to developing well-rounded musicians and music learners.

 

If students are interested in learning more about the school and applying to study, how can they go about this?

Interested students should visit the Tianjin Juilliard website to learn more about our school, programs, and the application process. Additionally, we are pleased to offer virtual master classes, information sessions, and tours of the landmark campus led by members of our admissions team.

To learn more, please register and sign up for our events through the admissions section on our website. Acceptance into our selective programs is based on a competitive audition process. Applicants are required to submit a prescreening recording, and an invitation will be extended to selected applicants for an audition. We invite you to take the first step and apply!