The Orchestral Conducting Program at Peabody Conservatory, under the direction of Marin Alsop, is designed to provide training and practical experience both to beginning conductors and to those with professional experience wishing to expand their repertoire. The skills of each student are developed in a highly individualistic manner. The program offers Master and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees and the Graduate Performance Diploma, all of which require a minimum residency of two years.
A certain number of graduate assistantships are available on a competitive basis.
Students work with a live Conductors' Orchestra for three-and-a-half hours per week to gain "hands-on" practice and instruction. The orchestra is composed of Peabody students who are chosen by competitive auditions and paid for their services. Each Conductors' Orchestra session is videotaped. In addition, conducting students are expected to attend the weekly rehearsals of Peabody's major orchestras and other conducted ensembles, all of which present a series of annual public concerts with a wide variety of repertoire.
Conducting majors are occasional guest conductors of Peabody ensembles in public concerts. They have opportunities to conduct premiere performances of chamber operas produced by Peabody's Opera Department and to collaborate with Peabody student and faculty composers. On a regular basis, conducting majors coach students for opera performances and assist in conducting ensemble rehearsals.
Both master's and doctoral candidates are expected to have a working knowledge of at least Italian and German. (Classes are available at Peabody in these and other languages for those not already possessing language skills.) Similarly, students are encouraged to attend classes in orchestration and early music performance practices.
Many graduates from the Peabody conducting program now hold positions with prestigious orchestras in the United States and abroad, from the Ensemble Instrumentale de Grenoble to the National Symphony Orchestra of Seoul. Conducting students and graduates have been invited to guest conduct orchestras all over the world, from the Leningrad Philharmonic to the Central Philharmonic of Beijing. An impressive list of prizes and awards has been compiled by Peabody students and graduates, including the American Symphony Orchestra League's Stokowski Conducting Competition in Philadelphia, the Leonard Bernstein American Conductors Competition, the International Malko Conducting Competition in Copenhagen, the Hradec Kralove International Conducting Competition in Prague, the Tokyo International Conducting Competition, and Tanglewood Conducting Fellowships.