The question that one may have, is why we chose the name “Festival Connect” for Tianjin Juilliard’s flagship music festival. Numerous music festivals specializing in modern repertoire already exist, frequently basing their programming on brand new commissions, specific periods of time, or a region of interest. We wanted to be different. Each year, Festival Connect will select a groundbreaking 20th-century composer (in this case, Béla Bartók) and connect their lineage, legacy, and influence on important artists who followed after them. First and foremost, as an educational institution, we hope our students—as well as our audiences—will be able to connect the dots between eras, ideas, and cultures through the lens of a singular, innovative musical genius. We’ll connect the music of each composer to other vital art forms as well. This year’s festival incorporates visual art designs by celebrated Hungarian artist Jenő Lévay, whose work reflects Bartók’s interest in traditional folk music and Eastern culture.
We also want the festival to connect Juilliard’s two programs in the United States and China as part of President Emeritus Joseph W. Polisi’s vision of creating “One School, Two Campuses.” For decades, The Juilliard School has produced its own annual celebration of modern music, Focus! Festival, led by Professor Joel Sachs, as a way of connecting the New York campus with composers from different countries. Festival Connect will draw from Juilliard’s vast experience and network, inviting faculty and students based in Lincoln Center to participate as performers, lecturers, and most importantly, peers. This year, ironically, it was easier to invite musicians from New York to join us in Tianjin since many of Juilliard’s Chinese students are currently in Chinadue to travel restrictions. We are thrilled to have them here as visiting students, and to be able to provide a veritable “home away from home.”
In this inaugural installment of Festival Connect, we hope these five performances, spread over one week, collectively create a strong and uplifting statement for what is to come. The birth of Festival Connect in the midst of a global pandemic also represents our deepest desire for people to stay connected during a time of isolation and separation. The festival, like The Tianjin Juilliard School itself, is a celebration of new directions, collaboration, and discourse.
by Alexander Brose, Executive Director and CEO Wei He, Artistic Director and Dean