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World’s first “Chinese Music Classroom” set to open at Chetham’s School of Music

Students and teachers – at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester and Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing – are set to share performances and music teaching ideas, thanks to the unveiling of the world’s first ‘Chinese Music Classroom’.

The new facility – which launches this September at Chetham’s School of Music – will host a series of cross-continental concerts, teaching seminars and musical masterclasses for students.

Chetham’s in Manchester – home to more than 300 of the world’s most exciting young musicians, aged 8-18 – is the UK’s leading music school and the only one in the North of England.

Chetham's student Fang performs in The Stoller Hall with Chetham's Symphony Orchestra

Percussion student Fang Zhang from Henan province in China received bursary funding to  study at Chetham’s School of Music. He went on to win the prestigious BBC Young Musician competition in 2021.

Chetham’s mission is to educate and nurture the brightest young musicians irrespective of background or the ability to pay.

The Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing is China’s leading music school and is home to more than 3,000 national and international students. Its purpose is to share Chinese culture and Chinese music with the world and absorb the excellent music culture of other countries and ethnic groups.

Now, the two world-leading institutions are uniting as part of a unique cultural exchange, designed to deepen understanding and appreciation of the UK and China’s rich musical heritage and advance music teaching standards, whilst also creating opportunities for students to experience new cultures and performance opportunities.

Every year, Chetham’s welcomes students from around the world with many supported through the school’s bursary scheme. The school is a charity – with a mission to nurture young musicians regardless of background or financial situation. More than 90% of students are supported by bursaries, funded by the Government’s Music & Dance Scheme and private donors.

Chetham’s are hoping to create more opportunities for international students by launching a new bursary scheme, helping to ensure entry to the school is based on musical potential, not on the ability to pay and to support diversity within the music industry.

Chetham’s student Fang Zhang, who travelled from Henan province in China to study at Chetham’s in 2018, was one of many international students supported by the school’s bursary funding. In May 2021, he captured the hearts of audiences across the UK when was the winner of the prestigious BBC Young Musician competition.

Tom Redmond, Artistic Director at Chetham’s School of Music, said:

“Within the concert halls and rehearsal rooms of Chetham’s School of Music and the Central Conservatory of Music you’ll find some of the world’s most remarkable young performers at work. We’re very proud to break down some of those walls with this new initiative, to be able to open up new cross-continental performance opportunities for students, to help them exchange musical ideas internationally and to help our teachers learn from each other.

“Our much-loved student Fang Zhang is a shining example of what can be achieved when we create opportunities for creative talent to cross borders, experience new cultures and teaching methods.”

Professor Yu Feng, President at the Central Conservatory of Music, said: “We can’t wait to see our own brilliant performers working side by side with the best young musicians in the UK. China and the UK have a long, rich history of cultural exchange. This is a major new step towards continuing that tradition.”

Research Fellow Zhao Min, Chairman of the University Council of Central Conservatory of Music and Chairman of the Board of Advisors of the Chinese Music Classroom, said: “The establishment of Chinese Music Classroom is a practical result of Sino-British music education and cultural exchange, and is also a new platform for young people to learn
more about the world.”

Zheng Xiyuan, Consul General of The People’s Republic of China in Manchester said: “We are delighted to be supporting this innovative project which will encourage cultural exchange and learning between Manchester and China. Chetham’s School of Music and the Central Conservatory of Music are both world-class institutions and we are excited to see what comes from this collaboration.”

Rhys Whalley, Executive Director of the Manchester-China Forum said:

“This partnership is a brilliant illustration of the strong ties that exist between Manchester and China and the role that cities play in bringing the best and brightest of tomorrow’s generation together. International collaboration across culture and education has never taken on greater significance and I’m delighted to see the UK’s best music school playing a leadership role in this space.”

The partnership will be officially unveiled at a ceremony and concert in The Stoller Hall at Chetham’s on 21 September 2021, featuring live performances by students at Chetham’s School of Music and remote performances from students Central Conservatory of Music broadcast into the venue from China.

The event will see the launch of the new international student bursary appeal. In October, the partnership will commence with the first in a major new series of Chinese and British online musical masterclasses for students, delivered by world-leading music tutors from both institutions.

In November, an online concert – co-hosted by Central Conservatory of Music and Chetham’s – will showcase quartet performances from musicians at both institutions.

An online academic seminar in December will then share teaching ideas and facilitate discussion between some of the world’s leading music teaching experts.

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