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October 2017 Update


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.

Four Pillars

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.

  • Excellence: Peabody graduates should be among the most successful musicians competing for high-level positions as soloists, orchestra members, chamber musicians, and educators; and should emerge as the trailblazers and innovators in their respective disciplines and across disciplines, fully equipped with the skills needed to achieve the kind of community connectivity increasingly required of artists in contemporary society.
  • Interdisciplinary Experiences: Peabody can leverage its competitive position as a top conservatory within a world renowned research university through development of cross-disciplinary programs.
  • Innovation: Peabody has now developed the new Breakthrough Curriculum that builds on the strength of traditional music training while breaking the mold in incorporating skill-sets required of the 21st century musician.  Innovation also means embracing music of our time, and taking a leadership role externally in a dialogue on the value of music and arts in society.
  • Community Connectivity: Peabody is building strong and meaningful relationships within the region that will enable Peabody to better serve the community and at the same time instill in its students an understanding and enthusiastic embrace of the role they must play in communities as citizen-artists.

Critical initiatives are now being advanced to meet these goals as the following update illustrates.


  • Auditions for 2017-18 were up five percent from 1,496 to 1,565 over a two-year period. In addition, the number of Under Represented Minorities matriculated has increased as a percentage of student population from eight to nine percent over the same two-year period.
  • The first phase in a new faculty contract and evaluation system was rolled out over the past year as well as implementation of regular departmental external reviews. The 2017-18 academic year is the first year of a wholly revamped faculty governance system that includes enhanced faculty chair roles and a streamlined and more effective committee structure.  Planning for a multi-year contract and promotion system is ongoing, with implementation planned for 2019-20.
  • Twenty-eight new faculty appointments in 2017-18 include renowned additions to the voice faculty, Elizabeth Futral, Tony Arnold, and William Burden; clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein; Thomas Dolby, leading the new Music for New Media program, and danah bella leading the new Dance BFA. Additions to the composition faculty include Felipe Lara and Du Yun – winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in music. In keeping with building a diverse faculty, 18 percent of new hires this year include Under Represented Minorities.
  • A multi-year Strategic Admissions and Recruitment Plan was rolled out in Fall 2016, supported by market research analysis, new systems, rebranding, and enhanced involvement of faculty.
  • A new website and branding were launched in September 2017:
  • A gift of $500,000 from Rheda Becker and Bob Meyerhoff established the Peabody Institute Diversity Fund.
  • A $500,000 gift from the France-Merrick Foundation facilitated Phase I of acoustical and technical improvements of Miriam A. Friedberg Concert Hall, led by renowned acoustician Lawrence Kirkegaard.
  • The Peabody Symphony Orchestra’s first CD on Naxos, conducted by Marin Alsop, made the Top 25 Billboard Classical Charts; the next Naxos CD with Marin Alsop and Leonard Slatkin is slated for release in 2017.
  • Peabody faculty winning university-wide awards include composition department members Michael Hersch for the 2017 President’s Frontier Award and Kevin Puts and Oscar Bettison for 2015 and 2017 Catalyst Awards.
  • Professional development opportunities recently launched for faculty include Lunch & Learn Series, Chairs Leadership Breakfasts and Workshops Series; and for staff, the Peabody Academy Program.

Interdisciplinary Experiences

  • The newly established Johns Hopkins Center for Music and Medicine is focused on musician wellness and palliative uses of music to treat a variety of disorders. More than 70 partners across the university include healthcare providers, researchers, biomedical engineers, therapists, musicians and educators. Plans include a multidisciplinary occupational healthcare clinic and wellness center for musicians and dancers on the Peabody Campus opening in November 2017. In September 2017, musician wellness became an area of week-long focus at orientation, with students receiving occupational health screenings through JHU Medicine.
  • Peabody created its first-ever position fully devoted to research and study of musician wellness.
  • Peabody faculty received a Discovery Award to study impact of singing on dementia patients and caregivers.
  • Dean’s Incentive Grants were awarded for projects researching the impact of music lessons on Parkinson’s patients and the creative brain activity involved in improvisation.
  • Peabody is partnering with the Carey Business School to make a business minor available to Peabody students.


  • Begun in 2016, Peabody’s online course development focuses in four areas: remedial musicianship for incoming graduate students; occupational health and injury prevention; career development; and musicianship skills training for pre-collegiate students. Six courses will be running by end of FY18, and 11 more in FY19.
  • Peabody is piloting the use of video technology in studio teaching.
  • The Dean’s Symposium Series, launched in Fall 2015, highlights innovation and change in the music world.
  • Launched in 2015-16, the Dean’s Incentive Grants have included funding a podcast series exploring social issues for musicians; the launch of Voices Rise, a street choir in Baltimore; and Peabody’s first hip-hop class.
  • Peabody has expanded its new music “footprint” through hosting the nationally-based New Music Gathering 2016 and launching the new Peabody ensemble Now Hear This in 2015-16.

Community Connectivity

  • Peabody is a partner in bringing music to Baltimore schools (e.g. Henderson-Hopkins).
  • Launched in 2015-16, the Young Artists Development Series forms new partnerships with community arts organizations in El Paso, Texas, and Mesa, Arizona, providing residency experiences for Peabody students.
  • An expanding roster of partnerships places Peabody performers throughout the greater Baltimore community, at events like Light City Baltimore and RiseBmore, and in venues at UMBC, the Walters Art Museum, and the Enoch Pratt Free Library, among others.
  • Peabody Pop-Ups, launched citywide in April 2016, brought short, unannounced live music performances to Baltimore schools, social service agencies, health care facilities, and civic and public spaces.
  • Musician-in-Residence launched in 2015 now places Peabody students in three senior living facilities.
  • A partnership with Young Audiences of Maryland, launched in December 2016, places Peabody student performers in schools statewide.
  • Tickets to all Peabody concerts were made free beginning in Fall 2016.

New Directions

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.

Peabody Curriculum for the Future Task Force

  • Charge: To oversee the review and revision of Peabody’s curriculum to ensure verbal communication skills, audience development, programming, community connectivity, and career planning become integrated into the work of every Peabody student, relating it directly to their regular and essential everyday activities as musician/performers.
    • Status: Work completed resulting in launch of Breakthrough Curriculum in September 2017.

Reimagining Ensembles at Peabody Task Force

  • Charge: To explore and reimagine possibilities in a future ensembles program that strategically weaves together all ensemble experiences at Peabody in a context that prepares students for the wide variety of experiences they’ll encounter in professional life, and fits Peabody’s future ensemble needs.
    • Status: Work completed resulting in launch of new ensembles program in September 2017.

Faculty Governance Task Force

  • Charge: With recent revamping of the faculty contract system and an evaluation system now in place, the charge of this task force is to address the current faculty assembly and committee system found in the Faculty Assembly Constitution and Bylaws in order to ensure future faculty engagement in a way that is substantive, meaningful, transparent, and accountable.
    • Status: Work completed with new bylaws endorsed April 2017 by 96 percent of voting faculty.

Peabody Diversity Pathway Task Force

  • Charge: to examine Peabody’s current state of diversity with focus on under-represented communities and establish a long-term plan that addresses the diversity pipeline for students, faculty, and staff, and in doing so, foster an ongoing conversation about the culture of diversity at Peabody and in the world of classical music.
    • Status: Sub-committees were formed across three areas:  Pipeline & Student Recruitment; Curriculum & Programming; and Climate/Inclusion & Cultural Competency.  Each group, co-chaired by a member of the administration, a faculty member, and a student, is making a series of recommendations. A Faculty Diversity Plan now in place is among Peabody’s current diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Breakthrough Curriculum & Ensembles Initiative Launch

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.

A Sustainable and Vibrant Model

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:

  • Expansion of existing programs: Selected Conservatory programs (e.g. voice, composition)
  • Right-sizing existing programs: To support a reimagined ensembles program as part of new curriculum
  • Launch of new programs: Breakthrough Curriculum, Dance BFA, New Media, Peabody Online suite of courses, Center for Music and Medicine, Summer at Peabody
  • Philanthropy: Focus on new philanthropy to expand the currently committed, but limited, donor base, coupled with the need to balance increased annual operating contributed revenues with endowment.