Over the past three years, the Peabody Institute has been repositioning itself within the world of music conservatories, its home community of Baltimore, and within the multi-faceted framework of the renowned Johns Hopkins University, with which it has been affiliated since 1977. Peabody has embarked on a stimulating period of growth, focused on excellence, innovation, and leading the way in adapting to the changes in the American and international classical music landscape. Founded in 1857, Peabody is the oldest conservatory in the nation and has a storied history. Despite that history, Peabody’s financial resources have never matched its artistic and educational profile. Historically under-capitalized, it has “punched above its weight.” Over the years, its landmark buildings have seen artists such as Peter Tchaikovsky, Anton Rubinstein, Igor Stravinsky, Nadia Boulanger, Leonard Bernstein, and James Levine traversing its hallways. It counts André Watts, Philip Glass, James Morris, Hilary Hahn, Cyrus Chestnut, and Tori Amos among its illustrious alumni. In 2017 alone, three Peabody alumni were Grammy Award-winners. Current faculty includes leading artists such as Marin Alsop, Manuel Barrueco, Leon Fleisher, Denyce Graves, Marina Piccinini, and two Pulitzer Prize winning composers, Kevin Puts and Du Yun.
Today, Peabody is building on its rich history of professional music training at the highest level and has developed a vision for the role of the 21st century musician in society and the training required for musicians to meet the new realities and opportunities of that role. Peabody’s history, tradition, and pedigree, coupled with its forward looking view and commitment to challenge traditional assumptions, allow it to take on the real work of what it means to prepare artists for a world that is constantly changing. Peabody’s vision for the future connects directly to its founding 160 years ago as a cultural center for the region that celebrated the role of music, art, letters, and discourse.
To take this vision of marrying the old with the new, and to ensure that Peabody and Johns Hopkins University leverage their competitive advantage on the fortieth anniversary of their affiliation, Peabody’s leadership has cast fresh eyes on its potential for even more profound levels of achievement through development of the Breakthrough Plan and its Four Pillars: Excellence, Interdisciplinary Experiences, Innovation, and Community Connectivity.
Critical initiatives are now being advanced to meet these goals as the following update illustrates.
Peabody has a great history, and an opportunity to build on that history by reinvigorating its core work in the Conservatory. This has entailed rethinking our academic and financial model to ensure increased excellence, selectivity, innovation, diversity, and financial sustainability. To advance this effort, four task forces were formed.
In Fall 2017, the Breakthrough Curriculum was implemented to fully integrate entrepreneurship and citizenship training into the traditional training for which Peabody is renowned. Peabody is using its rich history as the oldest conservatory in the United States to lead the way in new directions of professional training and a new vision for how a modern conservatory relates to the world around it. The Breakthrough Curriculum, which is already garnering national attention, infuses our grand tradition with new perspectives to create a model at the forefront of arts training in the United States. Students develop skills in communication, programming, audience development, music entrepreneurship, and citizen artistry, and develop a digital portfolio with which they can propel their careers immediately upon graduation. Instrumentalists also experience dynamic ensemble training that reflects the flexibility increasingly needed for success in the music world. Through four phases – EXPLORE, BUILD, IMPLEMENT, and LAUNCH, this new initiative engages every student, undergraduate and graduate, in meaningful training experiences across these critical areas, always led by the guiding goal of excellence and musical accomplishment.
Sustainability requires thinking about program evolution from the perspective of the Four Pillars: Excellence, Interdisciplinary Experiences, Innovation, and Community Connectivity, in the context of a sustainable academic-business model. A five-year model (FY18-FY22) has been developed that is guiding the Institute with a focus on excellence and innovation, while moving toward greater sustainability. Components of the model include: