Central Conservatory of Music celebrates 75th Anniversary
in grand style (cont'd)
Sister institutions from around the world joined the commemoration and participated in the specially organized Academic Forum on Music Education for the 21st Century. Since the opening up of China in the 1980s, international relations have become increasingly important for Chinese academic institution such as CCOM. The Conservatory now benefits from a large network of partners in Europe, the USA and the adjacent Pacific area, promoting collaborations and enhancing mutual understanding. Many institutions participated in the Academic Forum, making it a quite unique event in the annals of tertiary music education. The list of participants illustrates just how prestigious CCOM's international educational cooperation has become. Presidents of several major schools were invited as keynote speakers, including President Joseph W. Polisi from Juilliard School, Dean Robert Blocker from Yale University, Gretchen Amussen from the Paris Conservatoire, Rector Ulrike Sych from the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna, as well as many others.
Delegations from European institutions further included representatives from the Akademia Muzyczna w Krakowie, Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi di Milano, the Hochschule fur Musik und Theater Hamburg, Det Kongelige Danske Musikkonservatorium in Copenhagen, the Griegakademiet in Bergen, the Geneva Haute école de musique; the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Eastman School of Music, the New England Conservatory, the Peabody Institute, the University of British Columbia and the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. A formidable line-up. It is also striking to see how North-East Asian countries, whose political relations remain rather cold, have developed strong ties in the field of academic exchange. In the region, tertiary music education is now federated through the Pacific Alliance of Music Schools, which had its second meeting in Beijing in April 2015. Major players of the area were present at CCOM's anniversary commemoration, such as Seoul National University, Tokyo University of the Arts, Singapore Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, as well as institutions from Taiwan, such as Taipei University of the Arts and Tainan University of the Arts.
Presentations and discussions during the Forum focused on cooperation patterns. Some speakers (notably from the US) clearly had rather conventional collaboration models in mind, more or less viewing (western) music education as a business product to be marketed. But there were some refreshing exceptions, speakers who advocated new collaboration models which would take into account the cultural dimension and promote genuine bilateral cooperation and cultural exchanges. President Joel Smirnoff from the Cleveland Institute (former first violinist of the Juilliard Quartet) was among them. He explaining why, if he were a young student again, he would choose to study at CCOM.
Many partners of CCOM displayed a commitment to bilateral exchanges, such as the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen, which now hosts a Confucius Institute for Music, the Hochschule fur Musik und Theater Hamburg, which developed classes for intercultural composition, and the Geneva Haute école de musique, which is pursuing several research projects related to China.
Two truly fine concerts were presented in the magnificient National Centre for the performing Arts as part of the celebrations. The first one featured a Chinese Orchestra (see photo with suona (shawm) soloist Guo Yazhi), the second one the China Youth Symphony Orchestra. Top class soloists from among teachers and alumni of the institution featured in these invents. They included pianist Lang Lang, violinist Lü Siqing, clarinetist Fan Lei, and conductors Yang Yang and Li Xincao. Gorgeous music could be heard in both concerts, and the atmosphere of the celebrations was very warm, touching and moving (which cannot always be automatically taken for granted during formal grand occasions!) Many would agree that the excellence attained by Central Conservatory graduates in recent decades is quite amazing. The only slight shadow over the festivities was the forced stepping down of the Conservatory's president Wang Cizhao, following accusations of corruption. But Wang has been able to continue his teaching and research activities at the Conservatory, and the incident – for several weeks a much debated item on internet fora – has not in any way diminished the memory of CCOM's truly impressive anniversary festivities.