As classes begin at Tianjin Juilliard, Nathaniel Blowers (MM '23, cello), a second-year master's student majoring in instrumental and orchestral studies, gives advice to new students, reminisces about his first year, and shares his aspirations for the coming year. Before coming to Tianjin Juilliard, Nathaniel studied at the University of Michigan, where he served as principal cello with the University Symphony Orchestra.
What advice can you give to the first-year students navigating life at TJS?
Explore the goings-on outside of the school and call your friends back home. Engage with Chinese culture and allow your new surroundings to sink in through experience. Also, foster new relationships with your musical colleagues. It is also important not to fret about the small stuff. Instead of shying away from challenges, lean into opportunities.
Looking back, what was it like being an international student preparing for Tianjin Juilliard, and what did you experience upon arrival?
I’ve found that being removed from the familiar cultural context of my home country, every day is filled with opportunities to be more intentional with my life. This comes in both active and passive forms. Actively, I felt like what a new settler might have felt: you’re on foreign soil, and newness is at your fingertips. You have a choice as to how you interact with this new world, maybe even having more choices than ever before. Passively, the environment affects you. Inevitably, you will enter a personal encounter during which neither party can understand the other, find yourself not knowing what street you’re on while traveling, or have monkeys throwing empty water bottles at you. You begin to realize that this place is truly different. Yet, it is also similar, in that we all have to work, eat, and so on.
What are your favorite cafés, restaurants, or hangout spots?
In Binhai, Cassa’s chickpea curry is good. Turka, which mainly serves Turkish food such as kebabs, salad, and meat pies is good too. Maan Café is another favorite spot for coffee, muffins, and western food. There are nice parks in the TEDA area, but the Caidai Park near the Residence Hall is quite pleasant.
What is your favorite spot in school?
The Orchestra Rehearsal Hall has a gorgeous view, and so does the lobby.
What was your most memorable performance on stage last year, and why?
It was definitely when the Tianjin Juilliard Orchestra got to perform Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony in the concert hall, in downtown Tianjin. It was also my first concert after arriving. Another favorite performance was a recital that my colleague, Emma Dong (MM' 23, violin), and I hosted in March. Many of our friends attended, making our time here feel like a fulfilling experience.
Any new goals for the new school year?
To be more diligent with weekly planning, and to set more milestones! For example, where I want to be after graduation, future recital programs, auditions, and community projects. I have to honor the reality that time flies, as it is a time-tested truth that early preparation and a general sense of responsibility result in a more satisfying musical experience.