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June 2019 Update


In recent years the Peabody Institute has been repositioning itself in 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 is in the midst of a stimulating period of growth, focused on excellence, innovation, and leading the way in adapting to the changes in the American and international performing arts landscape. Founded in 1857, Peabody is the oldest conservatory in the nation and has a storied history. Over the years, its landmark buildings have seen artists such as Peter Tchaikovsky, Anton Rubinstein, Igor Stravinsky, Nadia Boulanger, and Leonard Bernstein 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, Marina Piccinini, and two Pulitzer Prize winning composers, Kevin Puts and Du Yun. Guest artist-faculty include Richard Goode, Midori, Wycliffe Gordon, and Georg Haas.


Today, Peabody is building on its rich history of professional training at the highest level and has developed a vision for the role of the 21st century artist in society and the training required 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.

Five 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, Peabody has built its strategic Breakthrough Plan around Five Pillars:  Excellence, Interdisciplinary Experiences, Innovation, Community Connectivity, and Diversity.

  • Excellence: Peabody graduates should be among the most successful musicians and dancers competing for high-level positions as soloists, orchestra members, chamber musicians, choreographers, 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 launched the new Breakthrough Curriculum that builds on the strength of traditional training while breaking the mold in incorporating skill-sets required of the 21st century artist. 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 our students an understanding and enthusiastic embrace of the role they must play in communities as citizen-artists.
  • Diversity: As in business and other enterprises, diversity begets excellence.¬†Peabody is about excellence.¬†Musical barriers are also breaking down; different genres are influencing today‚Äôs composers and performers.¬†In order to foster this fantastic and rich landscape, we benefit from different voices in that conversation, as performers, composers, and audiences. Diversity is also key to future audience development.¬†Growing audiences for the future requires a more diverse audience, ever more essential as demographics shift in the coming decades.¬†Audiences will only become truly diverse when the performers on our stages are diverse, making the focus on diversity and inclusion a strategic imperative vital for the future of classical music and in the interest of all genres of music, dance, and the performing arts.

Critical initiatives have been advanced to meet these goals as the following update illustrates.


  • In November 2018, Michael Bloomberg announced his extraordinary gift of $1.8 billion to Johns Hopkins University to fund undergraduate scholarships, which includes a $50 million contribution to fund need-based aid at Peabody. The expressed purpose of the gift is to increase access and affordability to undergraduate education for students in the United States. This gift allows Peabody to build on the investments we have made over the last few years to increase scholarship funding. It will allow us to provide scholarships and grants totaling on average nearly half of overall tuition for the first time in Peabody‚Äôs history.
  • Applications for 2019-20 increased four percent over 2018-19 to more than 2,100 applications, and a 24 percent increase over a two-year period. Undergraduate applications increased 12 percent over 2018-19, and 48 percent over a two-year period.
  • The first phase in a new faculty contract and evaluation system was rolled out over the past two years as well as implementation of regular departmental external reviews. The 2017-18 academic year was the first year of a wholly revamped faculty governance system developed over a two-year period by the Faculty Governance Task Force that includes enhanced faculty chair roles and a streamlined and more effective committee structure. Planning for a multi-year contract and promotion system is complete with implementation beginning with the 2019-20 academic year.
  • More than sixty faculty appointments have been made over the last three years including renowned additions to the voice faculty, Elizabeth Futral and Tony Arnold; Thomas Dolby, leading the new Music for New Media program, and danah bella leading the new Dance BFA. Additions to the composition faculty include Du Yun ‚Äď winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in music and a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship. With the recent appointment of trumpeter Sean Jones as Richard and Elizabeth Case Chair in Jazz Studies, Peabody is reimagining its jazz program, inspired by the great tradition of jazz in Baltimore. Internationally renowned violinist Vadim Gluzman joined the violin faculty beginning September 2018 and distinguished violinist Judith Ingolfsson joins the faculty in September 2019. Midori and Wycliffe Gordon are Distinguished Visiting Artists in the 2018-19 academic year.
  • 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 2017:
  • 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‚Äôs first CD on Naxos, conducted by Marin Alsop, made the Billboard Charts in 2016. The next CD featuring Marin Alsop, Leonard Slatkin, and Marina Piccinini will be released in 2019.
  • University-wide awards and honors granted to Peabody faculty include Catalyst Awards for composers Kevin Puts (2015), Oscar Bettison (2017), Judah Adashi (2019), and Du Yun (2019), and for musicology faculty member Laura Protano-Biggs in 2018. The 2017 President‚Äôs Frontier Award went to composition department chair Michael Hersch, who was also named a Gilman Scholar in 2018.
  • Professional development opportunities launched for faculty include the 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, and comprises more than 70 partners across the university including healthcare providers, researchers, biomedical engineers, therapists, musicians, dancers, and educators. Beginning in September 2017, performing arts wellness became embedded in the student experience with the Peak Performance Fundamentals And the Johns Hopkins Rehabilitative Network Clinic for Performing Artists at Peabody, a multidisciplinary occupational healthcare clinic and wellness center for musicians and dancers on the Peabody Campus ‚Äď the first of its kind ‚Äď opened in April 2018.
  • Peabody faculty received a Discovery Award to study the impact of singing on dementia patients and caregivers.
  • Peabody has partnered with Johns Hopkins Hospital to bring the arts into healthcare, offering musician visits at patient bedsides through the Sound Rounds program, and providing noontime concerts for medical staff through the Music Connects concert seriesPeabody‚Äôs performing arts and medicine programs also include important research projects, injury prevention education, and clinical care for performing artists.
  • Launched in 2015-16, the Dean‚Äôs Incentive Grants have included awards for projects researching the impact of music lessons on Parkinson‚Äôs patients and the creative brain activity involved in improvisation.
  • Peabody now partners with the Carey Business School making a business minor available to Peabody students.


  • In November 2018, Peabody launched Playing Well as an online pilot initiative. An outgrowth of Peabody‚Äôs Music and Medicine initiative, Playing Well makes broadly available information around peak performance, injury prevention, and healthy playing and practice habits. The curriculum fills a void in a market that has little to offer in this critical area, while continuing to build awareness and brand recognition of Peabody as a leader and innovator.
  • The Dean‚Äôs Symposium Series, launched in fall 2015, highlights innovation and change in the music world.
  • Dean‚Äôs 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‚Äôs first hip-hop class.
  • Peabody has expanded its new music footprint through hosting the nationally-based New Music Gathering 2016 and launching the Peabody ensemble Now Hear This in 2016.

Community Connectivity

  • Peabody marked the Bernstein Centennial in fall 2018 with a production of Leonard Bernstein‚Äôs MASS performed for nearly 3,000 attendees at Baltimore‚Äôs New Psalmist Baptist Church, conducted by Marin Alsop, and featuring the Morgan State University Choir and other community partners.
  • Peabody is a partner in bringing music to Baltimore schools (e.g. Henderson-Hopkins).
  • Launched in 2015-16, the Young Artist Development Series provides residency experiences for Peabody students through new partnerships with community arts organizations in El Paso, Texas, and Mesa, Arizona.
  • A growing roster of partnerships places Peabody performers throughout Baltimore at events like Light City Baltimore and RiseBmore, at UMBC, the Walters Art Museum, and the Enoch Pratt Free Library.
  • 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.
  • The Musician-in-Residence program, launched in 2015, places Peabody students in two senior living facilities.
  • The Young Audiences of Maryland partnership, launched in 2016, features Peabody students performing in schools.
  • With Peabody concerts free beginning in 2016, attendance has nearly doubled over the last four seasons.


  • Through new initiatives like the Blue Ribbon Scholarship Program, applications from underrepresented minority (URM) students increased 33 percent to 300 applications for fall 2019 enrollment, up from 225 the previous year, and more than double over a two-year period. As a result, the total URM cohort is projected to reach 100 students in fall 2019, nearly 15 percent of the student body, up 70 percent since 2015. Similarly, following implementation of Peabody‚Äôs Faculty Diversity Plan three years ago, for the 2019-20 year, URM faculty will total 22, or 11 percent of total Conservatory faculty, up from 10 faculty, or 6.5 percent, in 2017.
  • Diversity and inclusion initiatives include establishing the Peabody Institute Diversity Fund in 2016 and other initiatives advanced by the Peabody Diversity Pathway Task Force including a 2018 micro-trigger workshop. Peabody is taking every opportunity to reinforce its commitment to these important issues.
  • All Peabody diversity and inclusion initiatives now underway are being wrapped into a master diversity plan to be rolled out in the 2019-20 academic year.

Breakthrough Curriculum Launch

In fall 2017, following 18 months of work by the Peabody Curriculum for the Future Task Force, the Breakthrough Curriculum was implemented to fully integrate training for 21st century careers in the performing arts 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 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 as well as philanthropic support, infuses our 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, entrepreneurship, and citizen artistry, as well as a digital portfolio with which they can propel their careers upon graduation. Instrumentalists also experience ensemble training that reflects the flexibility increasingly needed for future success, a direct outcome of the Reimagining Ensembles at Peabody Task Force. Through progressive phases the Breakthrough Curriculum engages every student, undergraduate and graduate, in meaningful experiences across critical areas, always guided by the goal of excellence and artistic accomplishment. Since its launch, Peabody is continuing to refine and strengthen the Breakthrough Curriculum’s efficacy through student focus groups, evaluation, and establishing the Breakthrough Curriculum Work Group charged with assessing progress to date and recommending additional improvements to be implemented in the 2019-20 academic year.

A Vibrant and Sustainable Model

Sustainability requires thinking about program evolution from the perspective of the Five Pillars ‚Äď Excellence, Interdisciplinary Experiences, Innovation, Community Connectivity, and Diversity ‚Äď in the context of a sustainable academic-business model. A five-year model (FY18-FY22) is guiding the Institute with a focus on excellence and innovation, while moving toward greater sustainability. FY18, the first year of the five-year plan, finished well ahead of key financial and enrollment targets, and is similarly on track to finish ahead of plan for FY19. ¬†Components of the model include:

  • Expansion of existing programs: Growing enrollment for Conservatory programs (voice, composition, jazz).
  • Right-sizing existing programs: To support a new ensembles program, part of the Breakthrough Curriculum.
  • Launch of new programs: Breakthrough Curriculum, Dance BFA, Music for New Media, Peabody Online, Center for Music and Medicine.
  • 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.