Committee of 100 is a non-profit organization of prominent Chinese Americans from the worlds of business, finance, education, and the arts. As an organization that strives to promote the full inclusion of Chinese Americans across society, and advance constructive dialogue between the U.S. and Greater China, Committee of 100 is always looking at opportunities to educate and inform the public on this dual mission in unique and interesting ways.
Enter the Tianjin Juilliard School.
A famous musician once said “music does bring people together. It allows us to experience the same emotions. People everywhere are the same in heart and spirit. No matter what language we speak, what color we are, the form of our politics or the expression of our love and our faith, music proves: we are the same.”
On November 17, Committee of 100 and the Tianjin Juilliard School expanded on this famous quote by hosting a joint discussion and fireside chat on bridging cultures through music – specifically focused on the U.S. and China. The two nations are at a pivotal point in international relations, where issues such as the economy, international trade, and sustainability may have differing views, but can leverage music and the arts to help find common ground for agreement and sharing.
Committee of 100 member and Tianjin Juilliard CEO and Artistic Director, Wei He and Dr. Joseph W. Polisi, President Emeritus and Chief China Officer at The Juilliard School explored performing arts education in the U.S and in China, Juilliard’s journey in bridging cultures through music, and how arts and education serve the global community in a geo-political world today.
Zhengyu Huang, the President of Committee of 100 opened the discussion by welcoming the audience and esteemed speakers, and highlighting how President Joe Biden and China President Xi Jinping just recently meet at G-20 Summit in Indonesia. Both leaders agreed on the importance of ties of people of United States and PRC and the importance of people-to-people communications exchange. Committee of 100 believes that through the power of the arts we can connect the people of both countries in meaningful ways.
Wei He stated that there has been a deep connection between Juilliard and China over the century, where many prominent Chinese musicians have benefited from their study at Juilliard. Wei asked Joseph if he could share with the audience some of the important artist and education exchanges between Juilliard and China during his tenure, and how arts and education serve the global community in a geo-political world today.
Joseph W. Polisi gave a fascinating early history lesson, going back to 1907 with the first enrolled Chinese student. Since then. Juilliard has been a catalyst of music and culture between the China and U.S. In 2018, Juilliard dedicated a music festival to Chinese music, inviting 30 top-notch young Chinese composers coming to perform in New York as their debut U.S. performances, blending traditional Chinese instruments with Western music. In 2019, Juilliard launched a beautiful new branch — Tianjin Juilliard School, the first performing arts institution offering robust and energetic music programs to graduate students, also a center for new innovative music.
Juilliard’s philosophy is to bring people of diverse cultures together through building a common language and appreciation of music and art. The school understands that music is not going to solve geopolitical problems, but it is a common language that can be understood quickly and experienced emotionally. It influences individuals in powerful ways and bridges similarities and differences in the global community. We all agree that talking about geopolitical strategy and issues is different than meeting real Chinese people and understanding the nuances of Chinese culture, and one vehicle to do so is through music. When you put Chinese and American musicians together to play a string quartet, they can immediately understand each other, there is an abstract connection that dissolves the barriers that separate us by language and political-ideological issues.
It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness instead of giving up. Committee of 100 and Tianjin Juilliard School believe that music creates connections, making cases for China and the U.S. to help understand each other better.
How to Stay Connected
If you missed the fireside chat between Wei He and Joseph W. Polisi, you can re-watch the session on the Committee of 100 YouTube channel here.
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