The BISS Pudong Global Orchestra students spent their second-last day in New York at The Juilliard School being immersed in the performing arts with workshops in Drama, Dance and Music. After a welcome from Mr Joseph Polisi, President of Juilliard School, who gave a brief history of the famed performing arts conservatory, the students were introduced to the teaching artists, many Juilliard Alumni, who would lead the workshops.
Perhaps surprisingly, the BISS Pudong instrumentalists attending the workshops were most intrigued by the non-music workshops. Emerging from the Drama workshop, BISS Pudong student cellist, Ji Woo Han, could barely contain her enthusiasm, describing it as "awesome". Part of the workshop consisted of the students being asked to imagine they were 50 metres under the sea and having to make their way to the surface. Ji Woo explains, this type of drama is a very different experience from playing the cello, "When I play the cello I have to think of many things, but in the drama workshop I just really focused on the one thing and used my body to show my feelings."
For Joung Jin, it was the Dance workshop, focusing on choreography, which caught his imagination. "We imagined something and then we put that into movement in a creative way and it became a dance. It made me realize how creative you can be and that there are no rules or limits in dance. Anything can become a dance as long as you put all your expression into the movements."
While the students were busy in their workshops, a special session was also underway for the music teachers accompanying the students. This session, led by Andrew Roitstein who is leading the development of the new Juilliard-Nord Anglia Performing Arts Programme curriculum which will begin to be rolled out in Nord Anglia Education schools from this September. The musical session focused on improvisation, with Roitstein on double bass leading his string quintet – two violins, viola, cello and the double bass – through a series of pieces, from classical to Cuban, to illustrate the many ways in which improvisation can be incorporated in all styles of music, and taught in the classroom. The gathered teachers joined in on their own instruments, and it was quite a jam session dense in practical information about encouraging even the very youngest students to be creative risk takers with music.
After this morning of inspiration, there was another treat for the Global Orchestra, with permission to stay and rehearse at The Juilliard School for the afternoon. A final word to Joung Jin: "This place is like heaven for musicians."