June 1, 2016: Quarterly Update

I bring greetings to you from all of us at the Peabody Institute, and am pleased to have this opportunity to update you on a number of important developments.

Having presided this past May over my second graduation as dean, I continue to be as honored to serve in this role as I was on my first day. It has been my privilege and joy to work with our students, faculty, staff, and friends during such an exciting time both at Peabody and for classical music at large. In fact, there are so many things happening at Peabody that it’s challenging to decide what to highlight.

A Year in Retrospect

There were countless memorable concerts and recitals, symphonies played, operas sung, and chamber works performed. Students worked with our incredible faculty and had exposure to artists working at the highest level of the music world. That included working with Marin Alsop, now director of graduate conducting at Peabody, to record a disc for Naxos in the first of a number of planned recordings by the Peabody Symphony Orchestra. This year our students also had the chance to work with guest conductors of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, artists like Hannu Lintu and newly appointed BSO principal guest conductor, Markus Stenz.

Our inaugural year of Dean’s Symposiums advanced an ongoing, open, and thoughtful dialogue about the future of classical music and the issues and trends facing our field. The insights and learnings offered by notable guests like Norman Lebrecht, Claire Chase, Deborah Rutter and others are helping us think differently about that future and how we both shape and respond to it. In addition, students and faculty are creating innovative approaches to learning and to music through the new Dean’s Incentive Grants.

Also this year at Peabody, we expanded significantly the footprint for music of our time with the launch of Now Hear This, the new contemporary chamber ensemble whose performances generated palpable excitement. In addition, Peabody hosted New Music Gathering 2016 with more than 300 composers and performers from across the country gathered here to perform, conduct workshops and lectures, and share exciting new works with each other and with Baltimore audiences.

Community engagement is also increasing here at Peabody. This year brought the launch of the Young Artist Development Series, a partnership between Peabody and El Paso Pro-Musica under the direction of noted Peabody alum, Zuill Bailey, which brought two of our students to El Paso for week-long residency working as citizen-artists in what for them was a life-changing experience. Back here in Baltimore, in April we launched citywide Peabody Pop-Ups with more than 40 students fanning out to nearly 20 sites around Baltimore –  from Penn Station to the Water Taxi at the Inner Harbor, from Margaret Brent Elementary School to the Johns Hopkins Medical Center in East Baltimore, and many places in between – to surprise and delight with impromptu performances.

These are just a few of the highlights of the past year. As you can see, as the oldest conservatory in the nation Peabody is taking a lead in charting the future.

Looking Forward

At the core of everything we are doing is excellence. Excellence is one of the four pillars in our strategic vision, and we expect to be every bit as competitive as the most outstanding parts of Johns Hopkins University and Medicine. When talking about excellence, Peabody’s greatest strength is its outstanding faculty as well as a burgeoning group of faculty/artists that we invite to campus to work with our students. In that light, we are thrilled to have announced in my last letter that renowned violinist Midori has been appointed a Distinguished Visiting Artist here at Peabody for the 2016-17 academic year, and now we are delighted to add the acclaimed bass-baritone Eric Owens to that roster.

Eric Owens has become prominent on virtually every major opera and orchestra stage today and currently serves as the Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence for the New York Philharmonic. Critically acclaimed as “one of the greatest bass-baritones in the world” (Bloomberg News) and “an American marvel” (Chicago Sun Times), Mr. Owens will coach voice students and lead master classes over the course of multiple visits that includes ten days on campus during the year.

As the Peabody Curriculum for the Future Task Force and the Reimagining Ensembles at Peabody Task Force continue their work toward refining and reinvigorating our future training, the opportunity to study with and learn from artists of this caliber can truly shape our student musicians’ experience at Peabody and in their careers. We are thrilled to add their unique talents and insights to our program.

As you can see, there is much happening at Peabody as we both reflect upon the last year, and plan for the next. I look forward to keeping you up-to-date on these important developments, and thank you for your support.