Born in Norwich, Conn., and raised in Florida, Christopher Mossey studied music history at Florida State University and earned a Ph.D. in the history and theory of music from Brandeis University in 1999. He has worked at Juilliard in various capacities since that year. In addition his work in fund-raising development for the capital campaign, Christopher oversaw Juilliard’s centennial observance in 2005-06, the formation of Juilliard’s commissioning endowment, the early planning for the Historical Performance program, and special artistic projects involving John Adams, Pierre Boulez, Alfred Brendel, and William Christie. As vice president for global initiatives, Christopher is responsible for identifying new partners and models through which Juilliard can deliver its educational and artistic expertise in other countries. Juilliard Global was launched in October 2011.
Can you give us an update about what is happening with Juilliard Global these days?
My global team is focused on its most advanced project in China: the Tianjin Juilliard School. We are working toward obtaining preliminary approval from the Ministry of Education for this project, so that we can enter into an intensive planning stage to develop the personnel, building, and systems of the school. In addition, I have built in Brazil the foundations for some potential long-term programs, but what Juilliard might do in Brazil would be different in scope and mission from what we are doing in China.
What would you say has surprised you the most about your work with Juilliard Global?
I am routinely surprised at how many people around the world know the Juilliard name, or know someone who graduated from the School. Whether I am in Tianjin, Mexico City, São Paulo, and smaller cities around the world, the name Juilliard can initiate wonderful conversations and relationships.
What’s your favorite Juilliard memory?
My favorite memory is helping bring to life the “ramp dance” that opened the School’s 2005-06 centennial season. Choreographed by Eliot Feld, Sir Isaac’s Apples was set to the music of Steve Reich’s (’61, composition) Drumming and involved almost 60 dancers. It was a compelling piece probably never to be reprised, due to its cost and complexity.
What’s the craziest day at work you’ve ever had?
The crazy days at work are the best ones, and there have been many of them. A recent one involved an important visitor. In November, Juilliard welcomed the vice premier of China and an entourage of 30 other visitors for a 40-minute visit to the School. Along with my incredible colleagues at Juilliard, I planned a terrific experience, which included an incredibly touching performance of the West Side Story love duet “Tonight” sung by Opera Studies Artist Diploma candidate Ying Fang (M.M. ’13, voice) and John Brancy (B.M. 11, M.M. ’13, voice). During the course of that day, we learned that it was the vice premier’s birthday, and after obtaining permission from her protocol officers, the day concluded with everyone singing happy birthday to her.
Tell us about the best vacation you’ve had?
I love Los Angeles. I have been there several times in the past and was there recently with my son, Patrick, to look at some potential colleges for him. The weather and attitude there are intoxicatingly different from New York. On the most recent trip, Patrick and I had an authentic L.A. experience: an earthquake! We were watching the L.A. Philharmonic at Walt Disney Hall and during the concert felt the 5.1-scale earthquake that rattled the city. The orchestra, led by Charles Dutoit, kept on playing Daphnis et Chloe, calm as ever through all the aftershocks as well. (The L.A. Philharmonic has posted an audio clip of this moment online.)
You are obviously a very frequent flyer. What are your top three tips for hardcore air travel?
(1) Obtain Global Entry clearance so that you can reduce time at T.S.A. security check points and U.S. immigration;
(2) research the airline, type of plane you fly on, and your seat location—all are important; and
(3) carry noise-cancelling headphones.
What might people be surprised to know about you?
I am not on Facebook. I am becoming fluent in Portuguese. I published a modern edition of Francesco Cavalli’s 1645 opera Doriclea that was the basis of a performance at Juilliard a number of years ago.
What’s the strangest or most memorable job you’ve had?
When I was in graduate school, to earn extra money, I was a research assistant for a rheumatologist and my name now appears as co-author on a number of papers published in medical journals.
What is your favorite thing about New York City?
After spending time in some very large cities over the past several years, I can safely say that my favorite thing about New York City is that it functions very well for a big city.
What media are you consuming these days?
I am reading The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer and Orfeo by Richard Powers, two authors I like very much. As for guilty pleasures, I binged all seasons of Downton Abbey recently, and regularly watch Big Bang Theory, Nashville, and Shark Tank.