Peabody Distinguished Alumni Award (2008)
Society of Peabody Alumni
Citation for the Peabody Distinguished Alumni Award
February 1, 2008
Awadagin Pratt, you have traveled a long way since you began to play the piano at age six in Normal, Illinois. Even then you had multiple interests and it wasn’t long before you started playing the violin, and then to conduct.
You were only 16 when you entered the University of Illinois and four years later, in 1986, you arrived at Peabody and became the first triple major in the conservatory.
For piano, you studied with Robert Weirich and later Leon Fleisher; for violin, Daniel Stern; and in conducting, you studied with Frederik Prausnitz. You not only managed these three programs, you excelled, graduating with an overall GPA of 3.4.
Just before graduation in 1992 you won the prestigious Naumburg Competition for Young Musicians, launching your career with more than 25 major performances in the ’92-’93 concert season.
In 1993 you signed an exclusive recording contract with Angel/EMI and your debut album, A Long Way From Normal, was released in 1994. You have continued recording with them, most recently produced an all-Bach disc with the St. Lawrence String Quartet.
Life after Peabody has been busy for you. You have performed recitals, and played with major orchestras throughout the United States. Internationally, you have toured Japan four times and performed in Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Israel and South Africa.
It has been easy to keep track of you over the years: you have been the subject of articles in Newsweek, People Magazine, USA Weekend, New York Newsday, and Mirabella; we have heard you on National Public Radio’s Performance Today, St. Paul Sunday Morning and Weekend Edition; and we have seen you on the Today Show, Good Morning America, and Sesame Street.
As a performer, you are dedicated and talented, and as an advocate for music you engage students of all ages by regularly participating in outreach activities and residencies.
You have exemplified the Johns Hopkins tradition of excellence and brought credit to Peabody Conservatory and the University throughout your career. It is for all this that The Johns Hopkins University Alumni Association confers upon you the honor of the Distinguished Alumni Award.