This month’s Staff Portrait showcases one of President Polisi’s many signature achievements—Juilliard’s branch campus in Tianjin, China, which is scheduled to open its doors in September 2019.
Executive Director and CEO, The Tianjin Juilliard School
A little over a year ago, Alexander Brose was named executive director and CEO of the nascent Tianjin Juilliard School. When Alex was 7, his father, seeking something different for the family, asked his supervisors at JP Morgan for a transfer to Asia. So, in 1983, they moved from Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J., and spent five years in Seoul and Hong Kong. The family moved back to Ridgewood, N.J., where Alex went to high school. At Cornell, he majored in East Asian studies and was extremely active in the music department— weekly voice lessons, performing in opera productions, and singing in the glee club. Prior to Juilliard, he was vice president for development at the Aspen Music Festival and School; earlier in his career he spent 11 years at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, moving up from assistant director of admissions to associate vice president for advancement. Alex and his “amazingly patient and adventurous” wife, Carmen, a landscape architect, and their sons, Sebastian (7) and Nico (4), are enjoying Tianjin, where they moved last summer.
How did you hear about the China branch possibility?
I had been following the project for years, mostly while creating relationships in the region for both the San Francisco Conservatory and the Aspen Music Festival and School. I was always very envious of the endeavor— and impressed with Juilliard’s distinct commitment to creating a true presence in China.
What’s your elevator pitch about TJS?
The effect it could have on classical music education not only in China, but also throughout Asia and beyond, is staggering. With the help of terrific partners in Tianjin, we’re poised to create something truly wonderful for aspiring performers and avid concertgoers from across the globe to enjoy.
What other pursuits are you passionate about?
In my three years as a member of the board of governors of the Recording Academy (the Grammys) I became very interested and passionate about protecting the rights of recording artists, whether they be singer-songwriters, classical performers, or anything else in between.
Any meal, prepared by anyone, what is it?
Oysters, shucked by Shostakovich.
What might people be surprised to know about you?
I may or may not have toured with a 14-piece Michael Jackson tribute band not (too) long ago.
What are you reading/listening to/watching/following?
It’s been hard to find the time to read these days, but the last great book I read was The Sympathizer by Pulitzer Prize winner and MacArthur “genius” recipient Viet Thanh Nguyen. The new album by the Texas band Khruangbin has been on constant repeat during my commutes to work recently. My wife and I just finished the final season of Judd Apatow’s Netflix series Love, which we enjoyed. I’m always following Sino-U.S. relations for obvious reasons. And the New York Yankees, for I guess not-so-obvious ones.
What’s your favorite Joseph Polisi memory?
I was lucky enough to attend a private dinner in Beijing with President Polisi (as well as Board Chair Bruce Kovner, Dean Guzelimian, and others) and the First Lady of China, Madame Peng Liyuan. It was an absolute joy and an incredible learning experience watching a true diplomat at work. Given that Joseph will continue as chief China officer even after retiring from Juilliard, I so look forward to working more closely with him in the years to come.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
Just that I’m so thankful to have been given this amazing opportunity to create something so important for the future of classical music. The dean and artistic director of the TJS, Wei He, and I have started assembling a fabulous team in Tianjin. We invite everyone to come visit!