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New alliance of music schools forms down under

USC Thornton, San Francisco Conservatory represent US at Asia-Pacific Summit

Quad at University of Sydney
A global summit took place at the University of Sydney. (Photo/Jason Tong)

USC Thornton School of Music Dean Robert A. Cutietta traveled to Sydney to participate in the inaugural Asia-Pacific Music Summit — a four-day event aimed at building the regions as a driving force behind music education and culture around the world.

To create closer ties between the institutions in attendance, summit representatives established a new Pacific Alliance of Music Schools.

USC Thornton, along with the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, were the sole institutions invited to represent the United States.

“I could not be more pleased to be able to spend quality time with these Pacific Rim music leaders,” Cutietta said. “Our discussions about the future of classical music, and music in general, [were] very stimulating.”

An international gathering

Hosted by the Sydney Conservatorium of Music at the University of Sydney and the Beijing Central Conservatory of Music, the event brought together leaders of 11 preeminent music institutions from Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore and Taiwan. Leaders spent time discussing course programs, student exchanges, industry collaborations, funding models and performance platforms.

“This inaugural conference is an outstanding beginning to an important alliance of the finest music schools on the Pacific Rim,” said David Stuhl, president of the San Francisco Conservatory. “Global interchange is the future of music and education. I am tremendously enthusiastic about the potential of this initiative.”

While collaborations have existed for some time between many institutions in the region, the summit marked the first gathering of deans and presidents of the partner schools. During the summit, participants in the new alliance decided to solidify their affiliation with an annual convention. A different member institution of the alliance will be tasked with hosting the gathering each year.

Unique case studies

The summit comes at a time when countries such as China are experiencing a major boom in classical music.

“The purpose of holding this summit is to strengthen the inter-conservatory exchange and collaboration more widely, so that the resources in the Asia-Pacific region can be integrated,” said Wang Cizhao, president of the Beijing Central Conservatory. “We can work together on promoting international music education.”

This sharing of ideologies is an integral component to both the Pacific Alliance and the summit, according to Karl Kramer, dean of the Sydney Conservatorium.

“While we all assume the Western music tradition of teaching, each institution is mutually exclusive in terms of how it operates. We are 12 unique case studies, each with different expertise to share,” he said. “The summit is a starting point to forming stronger human connections between the institutions to encourage greater and more regular dialogue across the region.”

The summit concluded with an orchestral concert featuring student performers. The concert included premiere performances of two works composed by two summit delegates.

The Pacific Alliance of Music Schools includes:

• Beijing Central Conservatory of Music
• Faculty of Victorian College of Arts and Melbourne Conservatorium of Music
• Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts
• San Francisco Conservatory of Music
• School of Music, Taipei National University of the Arts
• School of Music, Tokyo University of the Arts
• School of Music, University of Auckland
• Shanghai Conservatory of Music
• Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney
• USC Thornton School of Music
• Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, National University of Singapore
• The College of Music, Seoul National University (absent from summit)

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