February 12, 2015: Quarterly Update

February at Peabody means auditions. For one week this month, our beautiful Mount Vernon campus is filled with hopeful applicants, playing their very best in the last step of a rigorous application process. It is an exciting time and one which naturally turns our focus to the future.

As I noted in my November letter to you, the years ahead at Peabody will be a stimulating period of growth, focused on excellence, innovation, and leading the way in adapting to the changes in the classical music landscape. This past fall, we laid out key long-term objectives along with a 24-month agenda called the “Breakthrough Plan,” designed to do the kind of work necessary to effectively position the Peabody Institute for the future.

Of course, it’s not enough to plan, prepare for, or articulate change. It requires investment. To execute on the Breakthrough Plan, we established the Dean’s Fund to raise $2.5 million for necessary investment in expertise, innovation, and new initiatives that will broaden the vision and deepen the work of the Peabody Institute in the 21st Century. I am delighted to report that a 2-to-1 challenge from JHU President Ron Daniels’ office, more than $800,000 in new gifts from our deeply engaged and committed members of the Peabody National Advisory Council, and several additional special gifts have pushed us over the goal to more than $2.7 million. I am enormously grateful to the university leadership and our PNAC for their visionary support.

With this wind at our back, progress on the Breakthrough Plan moves forward. We are exploring new interdisciplinary and collaborative initiatives with other JHU divisions and in the broader community, including a partnership with the Henderson-Hopkins School in East Baltimore. We are undertaking new initiatives to feature on-line expertise by Peabody faculty in a pilot program to be rolled out later this spring. Searches for key administrative leadership positions are on track, recommendations made in our admissions/recruitment consultancy are being implemented, and long-needed brand and market research has begun. Finally, after months of benchmarking and review, Peabody is moving forward on its commitment to fully develop faculty opportunities, and measure and reward success.

At the same time, it is the heart of the performance season and the calendar is full of noteworthy events. We recently celebrated Peabody’s Founders Day with a program featuring faculty cellist Amit Peled re-creating Pablo Casals’ 1915 recital at Peabody on Casals’ own cello. This remarkable story was the subject of articles in the Wall Street JournalStrings Magazine, and on NPR’s Morning Edition. The very same week, the Peabody Chamber Opera presented the U.S. premiere of Mansfield Park, based on the Jane Austen novel, in four performances previewed in the Baltimore Sun. Later this month, fifteen Peabody students are featured in a performance at the Terrace Theater at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as part of the Kennedy Center Conservatory Project. Last but not least, the Preparatory celebrates 100 years of its vital dance program this March with a series of events highlighting its impressive history.

As we are well into our second semester, there is an enormous amount of activity going on, with much to look forward to. Challenges abound as do opportunities, both identified in our Breakthrough Plan. I look forward to keeping you fully updated on all these initiatives as we go forward into the future.

Warm regards,

Fred Bronstein, Dean
The Peabody Institute