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COVER STORY: Bringing the Juilliard Tradition of Excellence to China
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Bringing the Juilliard Tradition of Excellence to China
An Interview with Alexander Brose
Executive Director and CEO
The Tianjin Juilliard School


BT 202011 340X458A unique landmark has recently appeared on the Tianjin landscape––the new campus building of The Tianjin Juilliard School in Binhai New Area, which is the first and only branch campus of the Juilliard School in any part of the world. It aims to bring to China Juilliard’s traditions and dedication to excellence, and to contribute significantly in raising the competitiveness of classical music education in Asia.


We were privileged to have the opportunity to interact with its inaugural CEO and Executive Director, Mr Alexander Brose.


BT 202011 COVER STORY 01Before arriving China, Mr Brose was the Vice President for Development at the Aspen Music Festival and School in Colorado, U.S.. In September2017, Mr Brose relocated to Tianjin with his wife and two children, and is now a renowned and active member of the local community. He serves on the Board of Governors of the International School of Tianjin and the Executive Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce’s Tianjin Chapter.


Having grown up in South Korea and Hong Kong, Mr Brose has always had a special affection for the region. His told us of his extensive experience with the San Francisco Conservatory and the important role he played in fostering ties between music communities in the sister cities of Shanghai and San Francisco.


Alex 003a摄影师:张笛
Photographer: Zhang Di

Commenting on some differences he had observed in classical music performances and the education sectors between China and the U.S, Mr Brose said he felt that in terms of audiences, China is unquestionably the future of classical music. He described how Chinese audiences have a large appetite for listening to music, especially high-level classical music, and that it is potentially unparalleled anywhere else in the world. He added that when one sees the young ages of people coming to classical concerts in China and the performance halls filled with people who value the classical performance and education that it's really inspiring.


BT 202011 COVER STORY 05Mr Brose also explained that classical music training is very different in the West and in China, since the approach to teaching and the way people learn is very different. The Tianjin Juilliard School is bringing a Juilliard-style approach to music education in China which is not found anywhere else in the country right now. He pointed out that there are phenomenal conservatories of music in China, but they offer a different approach. The majors at The Tianjin Juilliard School were selected very carefully so that they were not in direct competition, but would rather enhance and complement the already existing wonderful programs offered in China.


BT 202011 COVER STORY 04At The Tianjin Juilliard School, the students enjoy a supportive, nurturing and respectful environment, and they experience a very different approach to music education.


BT 202011 COVER STORY 03Asked how students would benefit from the Juilliard approach, Mr Brose explained that first of all, it is the collaboration in the musicianship that the school holds dear to the very heart of its pedagogy at pre-collegiate and graduate levels, as well as in its far-reaching public and continuing education courses. The School’s three graduate majors, for example, in collaboration with the Tianjin Conservatory of Music, have been designed to afford high-talent students the opportunity to study in programs that either do not exist or not well-developed in China. Collaborative pianists will experience curricular experiences that focus on both instrumental AND vocal accompanying, the latter of which to fill the great demand for experienced opera coaches in the country’s new opera houses. String players and pianists will be able to receive degrees in chamber music itself, and both pre-formed string quartets and piano trios, in addition to individual players, can apply to receive focused teaching from chamber masters. Orchestral musicians can receive degrees in orchestral performance, rather than in individual instruments, to better prepare them for the rigors of life in professional orchestras not only in China, but beyond. In fact, The Tianjin Juilliard School is the only conservatory in China that offers a U.S.-accredited Master’s degree. Secondly, as the only brand campus of Juilliard, Tianjin Juilliard carries with it the same great sense of responsibility to develop artists as citizens and leaders. All of the school’s students will receive an education that seeks to produce the well-rounded musician, one who will use their talents to serve a greater good as a citizen of the arts and society.  


BT 202011 COVER STORY 012Mr Brose explained that the Juilliard philosophy is not just about educating and training a student who will succeed on stage or go to the top of a mountain and expect audience to come to them; rather, it’s about training students to come down from the mountain to use music, to communicate, collaborate, and to unify. The true hope is that students will be supportive members of the community, and that the community will grow and be stronger as a result of their being here.


BT 202011 COVER STORY 010The school looks to provide authentic Juilliard experiences for its students in China. With the launch of the new school building in Binhai, Tianjin, students now have access to the world-class teaching and learning facilities. Describing the unique facilities and exclusive provisions that The Tianjin Juilliard School offers students, Mr Brose said that the building itself is one of these, since the facilities are, without question, some of the best facilities in the world. The school has three state-of-the-art performing venues which form the cornerstones of the new campus building in Tianjin. Students are given ample opportunities to perform in solo, chamber, and orchestral concerts. Through performances in the concert hall, recital hall, and black box theatre, students refine their performance skills and connect with audiences through music.


BT 202011 COVER STORY 09Students at Tianjin Juilliard will receive instruction from 40 faculty who are distinguished soloists, orchestral musicians, and chamber players, composers, conductors, and scholars from 11 countries with extensive teaching and performing experiences. Mentorship, through private lessons and coaching from an international roster of faculty-in-residence, will form the core of students’ musical education. This experience will be enriched by frequent opportunities to work with visiting faculty from Juilliard in New York, whose involvement will range from weeklong master classes to longer-term projects and recurring residencies.


Students are very carefully selected for admission to The Tianjin Juilliard School. The prospective students would have to be excellent musicians and very high-level performers. To gain admission, every applicant must go through a very strict, very challenging audition process, not only carried out by faculty members of the Tianjin School, but also overseen by the New York faculty.


BT 202011 COVER STORY 06Mr Brose explained that The Tianjin Juilliard School has an admission cycle currently in operation, and they want people to hear about The Tianjin Juilliard School so that potential applicants, not only in China but also internationally, know that the programs are already open for application. To this end, they’re really working on creating a performance program and building a communication system that will get their voice out to the world and spread news of the great things that are happening here.


When asked about the biggest challenges that he has faced since 2017, Mr Brose said one of the challenges, is that of building the Juilliard family, from the staff to the faculty, to the students, but he feels that they are succeeding, since a great deal of effort has been made into making this happen.


BT 202011 COVER STORY 011He addressed that the various partners in the Juilliard community have been unbelievably generous, including Tianjin Conservatory of Music, TIFI, TEDA and various offices and ministries of the Tianjin Municipality, saying, “It has been the truly remarkable success in our partnerships that underlines the success of the school over time. “


BT 202011 COVER STORY 08Mr Brose further emphasized the importance of establishing a close-knit community. He added that the culture and the way that an organization works is defined by the architecture of the building and how it has been designed. With regard to the building housing The Tianjin Juilliard School, he explained that the architecture is an important part of the college’s personality, as is the layout of the office space, regardless of whether one has a private office or there are a lot of people sitting together. He told us that since offices are spread throughout the entire building, he encourages people to get up and walk around as much as they can to go and interact with people in the other areas. He feels that it could be very easy for people to stay in their own departments, and that that is not going to work for them. For Mr Brose, therefore, collaboration and communication are key factors.


BT 202011 COVER STORY 07Further evidence of community-building is the Tianjin Juilliard Ensemble. Mr Brose told us that when faculty arrived a year ago, they decided to defer the opening of the graduate school for one year and concentrate on creating the pre-college division in a temporary location at the Tianjin Conservatory. At this point, they also launched their flagship ensemble, Tianjin Juilliard Ensemble. The ensemble is composed of the faculty members of the school, and students also have many opportunities to learn from their teachers through performing with the ensemble. He said that last year, when the faculty travelled as a group throughout China and Korea, they were able to get together and play music with one another, which is the best way of getting to know each other, so that community was built very smoothly and organically. This Ensemble will be highlighted through performances throughout the year not only at the new campus in Binhai, but also at the Tianjin Grand Theatre and venues in Beijing.


Alex 002摄影师:张笛
Photographer: Zhang Di

Moreover, although The Tianjin Juilliard School has both Chinese and international faculty, they form just one faculty group. The most important thing is communication, and in The Tianjin Juilliard School, they are all one family.


A further challenge, according to Mr. Brose, is how Tianjin Juilliard, as artistic performing education institution, can truly live up to its much-anticipated leadership in cultivating a deeper and stronger passion for the western classical music in audiences in China and Asia. Tianjin Juilliard shares the name and the teaching excellence of Juilliard, and is closely connected and tied to the New York campus and its legacy. The Juilliard School at the Lincoln Centre in New York City has access to hundreds of performances which The Tianjin Juilliard School doesn’t yet have. However, he hopes they will reach that level at some point in the future. The Tianjin Juilliard School plans to offer periodical public performances starting in the fall of 2020. As many as 150 performances every year will be presented in the 687-seat concert hall, 299-seat recital hall, or 250-seat black box theatre.


BT 202011 COVER STORY 02A major project that Mr Brose described is that of working with the community and working with the neighbourhood to make it an attractive place for everyone, including staff, faculty, and students. In November, there will be a ‘soft-opening’ for people on a private guest list. This will be a concert to show appreciation and to thank people in China that have been important to the success of The Tianjin Juilliard School. Public performances will follow and concert-goers will be able to reserve tickets through the school’s website. Mr Brose further pointed out that since China has successfully controlled the spread of COVID in the country, it is becoming a very attractive place to study, particularly regarding classical music, as there are live performances, face-to-face teaching, and state-of-the art facilities that are currently unique in the world.


Speaking of his personal life, Mr Brose told us that his family is unfortunately still in the U.S. but is trying to get back to China. In the meantime, however, he has The Tianjin Juilliard School family, which certainly helps. For him, Tianjin is a very welcoming city, with friendly and inquisitive people. He and his family have felt very welcomed here.


Alex 004摄影师:张笛
Photographer: Zhang Di

For people who are interested in going into an executive position in an organization similar to The Tianjin Juilliard School in China, Mr Brose’s advice is to learn Chinese and practice it. He feels that to be really successful here in any executive position, it is necessary to appreciate the Chinese culture and language. Most of the expatriates that have come to The Tianjin Juilliard School are taking Chinese lessons, and are actively trying to integrate into the culture. In Mr Brose’s view, having even the slightest understanding of the Chinese language and putting an effort into learning about the local culture is the most important.


Mr Brose’s concluding comments on The Tianjin Juilliard School were about their dream: “We’ve taken the dream created by our partners and friends in New York and China and have created something real, something you can see with a real building and real faculty, students and staff. It’s been the most rewarding professional experience of my life to be granted the privilege of creating the Authentic Juilliard Experience in China and to turn this dream into reality.”


BT202011 COVER STORY tianjin juilliard logoThe Tianjin Juilliard School
A: No. 2946 Xinhua Road, Binhai New Area, Tianjin, 300450
T: +86 22 2576 4890 (8829)
E: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
W: www.tianjinjuilliard.edu.cn

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