BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Ms Peng Liyuan, wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping and a well-known soprano, received an honorary doctorate from New York's Juilliard School at the China Conservatory of Music in Beijing on Dec 6, according to the official website of the conservatory.
Juilliard president Joseph Polisi, who conferred the honorary degree on Ms Peng, delivered a speech at the ceremony, saying that it is not only a recognition of Ms Peng's accomplishment as an outstanding artist but also for her contribution to cultural exchanges between China and the United States.
Ms Peng, an alumna of the Chinese conservatory, said at the ceremony: "This is an honour not only for myself, but also for Chinese folk music. It exemplifies the increasingly closer cultural exchanges between China and the United States.
"I hope the cooperation between art schools and organisations of the two countries will be deepened in the future."
A traditional Chinese music orchestra from the conservatory and a string quartet from the Juilliard School performed during the ceremony.
Ms Peng's efforts of promoting communication between the Juilliard School and China date back two years, when she visited the school on Sept 28, 2015, while accompanying Mr Xi on his state visit to the US.
"Peng worked with one of our students who sang a Chinese folk song in Chinese. She is a musician and a music educator. It was a magical and unique moment to have the First Lady with us," Mr Polisi said in an earlier interview with China Daily.
During Ms Peng's visit, Mr Polisi announced that the school will launch its first overseas campus in China, the Tianjin Juilliard School, scheduled to open in September 2019.
The Tianjin Juilliard School will offer US-accredited full-time master's degrees in orchestral performance, chamber music performance and collaborative piano. It will also offer part-time programmes for pre-college students, adult education and public performances.
In June, Mr Polisi was in Tianjin for the school's ground-breaking ceremony in the Tianjin Binhai New Area.
The Juilliard School, founded in New York in 1905, has trained some of the world's most renowned performing artists, including Van Cliburn, Renee Fleming and Yo-Yo Ma.
The Juilliard School has enrolled students from China since the 1920s. Now, 30 per cent of the students at the Juilliard School in New York are from outside the US and students from China form the largest single group of overseas students in the school. There are about 70 students from China at present, mostly in the music division.