Chinese Instrumental Degree Cofounded in Beijing Partners with a New York University 中央音乐学院与巴德音乐学院首设中国民乐学位

By Meng Yang, Shen Li

Despite the cold weather, many college students and journalists sit together in the concert hall of the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing on Sunday to witness the groundbreaking step of Chinese Music Development—the announcing of the new partnership between the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and the Bard College Conservatory of Music in New York. 

The Chinese Instrumental Performance Degree Program is cofounded aiming to create a comprehensive and effective platform at the Bard Conservatory for Chinese music in the United States.

To launch this program, which is the very first Chinese performance degree program among western higher institutions, Yu Feng, president of the Central Conservatory and Robert Martin, director of the Bard Conservatory signed a formal agreement for the Initiative.

The very first duty and mission of a key university as the Central Conservatory of Music is to promote the splendid Chinese culture and Chinese music, said Yu Feng. “It is my firm belief that it is incumbent upon us to promote and disseminate Chinese music all over the world.”

“The Central Conservatory of Music and Bard Conservatory have taken the lead in opening the Chinese culture in foreign conservatories. This innovative step has historical significance in the development of Chinese music in the West. Our cooperation with Bard College, one of the finest liberal arts colleges in America with a rich history of 157 years, sends out a clear Chinese voice to the world that we have entered into a new cooperation mode and a new stage through the integration of music and culture exchanges,” Yu added.

The Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing /CGTN Photo

The Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing /CGTN Photo

Leon Botstein, president of Bard Conservatory, believes that the agreement is a milestone in Bard College's international engagement: "Our partnership with the Central Conservatory will result in deeper connections with China’s vibrant musical life and rich heritage."

Bard Conservatory director Robert Martin noted, “This is the culmination of years of work building relationships with the music world of China, including a tour of the Conservatory Orchestra to China in 2012. This agreement is a major achievement of our new US-China Music Institute, led by the distinguished conductor, author, and educator Cai Jingdong and a wonderful enrichment of the life of the Bard community.”

Cai showed his confident of the future development of Chinese music: "More than 400 years ago, the Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci presented a Ming Dynasty emperor with a Western musical instrument, planting the seeds of Western music in China. Now we at Bard hope to make a similar contribution, deepening the development of Chinese music in the West. I am sure it will not take four centuries!"

The director of the Traditional Music Department of Central Conservatory Yu Hongmei believes that Chinese traditional music has taken a solid step out embracing the world. "We will delegate the best faculties to teach in a variety of ways, including individual lessons, video conferencing and master classes."

Talking about the difficulties of international student learning Chinese instrument, Yu Feng told CGTN: "Music has no boundaries, I believe they can learn Chinese instruments just as well as we learn western instruments."

Three professors from the Beijing school will become primary faculty members.

"Of course the environment will give them western thinking and western education, it can make (create) a new generation. I don't know what's gonna happen, actually, it never happens," Yu Hongmei told CGTN at the press conference.

Zhou Wang, chair of Guzheng Studies added that: "Traditional Chinese culture is the basis of Chinese music and Chinese instruments. We will also introduce lessons such as calligraphy, traditional Chinese opera and Chinese poetry to our students." 

The initiative will also launch an annual Chinese music festival at Bard and an annual summer school for high school students. Seminars and scholarly conferences on Chinese music, art and social development will also be held in the US and China on alternate years.

After the initiative, professors and students of the Central Conservatory of Music gave a brilliant performance with Chinese musical instruments and won warm applause from the audiences.