The Yehudi Menuhin School Qingdao - A brand New 'sister' School for YMS!
Introducing The Yehudi Menuhin School Qingdao
YMS had been looking for an opportunity to establish a presence in China for some time. Yehudi made a number of visits to China and the Schools’ association with the country goes back many years. So, it was natural that YMS would want to establish its first overseas presence in China.
Therefore, when the School was approached by Mr Kong, Chairman of the Qingdao Urban Construction Group, the School was very keen to explore the opportunity. Mr Kong and his company share the same values and outlook as those of YMS and there is complete alignment on what both parties want to achieve.
The location, the beautiful city of Qingdao on the coast of Shandong Province in the NE of the country, is well located between Beijing and Shanghai and well-positioned to attract the type of students that we wish to have at the School. Furthermore, Qingdao is a major centre for the arts and culture in China and the project enjoys the support of the Chinese Government which is investing in the cultural infrastructure of the region. So, there is now a strong and committed partnership bridging East and West - very much in the spirit of Yehudi himself.
The School’s complex is quite remarkable in terms of its architectural design and comprehensive facilities; the renowned Toyota Yasuhisa was engaged to devise its acoustics.
When is The Yehudi Menuhin School Qingdao (YMSQ) due to open? Will it be open only to Chinese pupils or pupils from other nationalities? How many pupils will attend the school?
YMSQ will open this September. Initially it is focusing its recruitment on young musicians in China but over the next couple of years, it will seek to attract students from East and then South East Asia.
The aim is to recruit some 320 students by 2024 which is phase 1 of the strategic plan. beyond that, there is scope for a capacity of 850 specialist musicians if further facilities are built. The phase 1 complex will be both stunning and resourced with the finest facilities and materials one could hope for. The 850-seat auditorium in the Performing & Creative Arts centre will be completed in 2023 but the School already has a 300-seater multifunctional Hall, The Yehudi Menuhin Hall, plus other large spaces for rehearsals and concerts. There’s a stunning Sky Recital Room with views across the peninsular where the School is located in a natural wetland park.
What instruments will be taught?
Whilst the majority of students recruited in Year 1 will be string and keyboard players, the School has already offered places to woodwind and brass players and, ultimately, it will embrace all instrumental and vocal disciplines and establish its own orchestra. Chamber Music will be a key priority in line with YMS.
What academic curriculum will YMSQ teach – Chinese or International?
The School’s philosophy and ethos is based on that of Yehudi Menuhin and YMS, Cobham but programmes are tailored for Chinese students. Students will follow the Chinese academic curriculum until the end of Year 9 but then will either take A levels of IB qualifications.
How will the ethos of The Yehudi Menuhin School in Cobham be translated into the context of a Chinese School? Who is on the leadership team of YMSQ?
Along with the emphasis on high calibre coaching in performance skills and chamber music, the School will share a commitment to the importance of musicianship skills with a unique programme which is fully integrated with the practical teaching.
There are very close links between the senior teams at Cobham and Qingdao at every level. Ashley Wass is Director of Music at both institutions and Ms Ran Zheng and Mark Stringer, Principal and Vice Principal respectively, work closely with Ben Gudgeon and Ashley. Mark, who has full responsibility for Music at YMSQ, also briefs David Buckley, Shelley Twitchin and Governors of YMS about developments as necessary. Along with Ashley Wass, YMS teachers will also visit Qingdao to deliver 1:1 coaching, masterclasses and performance classes as well as participating in concerts.
Are the music teachers all Chinese or also International?
It has not been easy to recruit overseas staff because of the travel restrictions and quarantine requirements but teachers from UK, France, Italy, Austria and the US make up around 40% of staff.
Will YMSQ offer financial support to pupils who are not able to pay full fees?
The School will offer scholarships to exceptional students who need financial assistance.
Will there be formal exchanges for pupils or teachers between YMSQ and YMS in Cobham?
YMSQ looks forward to welcoming visiting staff and students from Cobham to Qingdao and there are so many exciting possibilities in terms of future exchanges and collaboration. Whilst travel to China is not easy at the moment, we can also explore and exploit technology to bring our two very special musical communities together