Music students from the Juilliard School in New York took questions from a small audience at the Asia Society in Hong Kong about their experiences at one of the world's top performing arts schools. By some measures, it sounded like any other elite college, with messy students, heavy workloads and helicopter parents.
"The on-campus freshman bathrooms were gross," said Olivia Mok, 20, a third-year violin performance major originally from Hong Kong.
They also spoke of long school days and fierce competition. On top of practicing their instruments, Ms. Mok and her friends would practice sprinting to sign-up sheets for audition slots. "There was literally a stampede one second after I put my name up," she said.
"I think everyone is trying to get their kids to be a soloist. Parents try to push as much as possible," added Kathryn Peterson, a French horn player from Texas and Ms. Mok's roommate. (They have since moved off campus.)
The talk in Hong Kong this month came on the heels of an announcement in June that Juilliard would build its first overseas branch in China. That venture is part of Juilliard Global, a 2011 initiative for overseas expansion.
Several U.S. institutions -- most notably Yale and New York University -- are in the process of opening Asian campuses. But Juilliard is the first major U.S. performing arts school to take the leap.
The idea is to open a facility in Yujiapu, a planned financial district under construction in Tianjin, a city outside Beijing.
The Juilliard institute in Yujiapu will not be a copy of the one in New York. It will have programs similar to those of Juilliard's smaller Pre-College Division, for students ages 8 to 18, and will not offer university degrees. It will also focus on music and lack the wide variety of performance and humanities courses found at the main campus.
New faculty will be recruited for the Chinese campus, though faculty from New York would visit for workshops and master classes, Christopher Mossey, vice president for global initiatives at Juilliard, said in an e-mailed response to questions.
But perhaps the most important difference is that Yujiapu is not New York. Juilliard is famously located within the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. It is so well regarded in the city's cultural scene that student performances are reviewed by critics in major media.
"New York Juilliard is part of a well-established arts scene, whereas in Yujiapu we are proud to be working with our partners to develop a new and rich tradition," Dr. Mossey said in the e-mail.
The Chinese campus will serve as the only non-U.S. location for students who wish to audition for the main Juilliard in New York.
"Students from Asian countries will not have to fly over to New York for live auditions anymore," said Katy Ho, a fourth-year viola performance major who has performed at Carnegie Hall.
"Everyone will now get an equal opportunity to enter Juilliard," said Ms. Ho, a Macau native who spoke at the Asia Society event.
Dr. Mossey cited an "outstanding demand for Juilliard training in Asia."
Juilliard, whose alumni include Asian-American celebrities like the cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the violinist Sarah Chang, is highly regarded in Asia.
China has been enamored by classical music child prodigies since 1979, when the late Isaac Stern plucked a 10-year-old cellist named Wang Jian out of obscurity. Ever since, the country has been on the lookout for the next Li Yundi or Lang Lang.
Over the years, there have been attempts to open schools based on U.S. institutes like Tanglewood. The Chinese government is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into arts funding.
However, as with many projects in China, details are sketchy. The Juilliard Journal reported in September that a feasibility study was being finalized and that plans for construction would begin after that, but there are no confirmed dates.
Dr. Mossey wrote that partners in the China project were "still finalizing a number of the specifics of the program."
The students at the Asia Society event emphasized the difference between the Asian method of teaching music and Juilliard's broader liberal arts format.
"The school has made an effort to push for a well-rounded education," said Ms. Mok, who co-founded a nonprofit music organization called Project Discover with her brother.
"To be a successful musician, you cannot focus on just performing anymore."
"In the future, I would like to bring back a more Western way of teaching music to Macau," said Ms. Ho, the violist.
Riva Hiranand and Calvin Yang contributed reporting.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.