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January 2020 Update


Since 2015 the Peabody Institute has been repositioning itself in the world of music conservatories, its home community of Baltimore, and as a division of the renowned Johns Hopkins University. This has led to 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 visiting artists such as Peter Tchaikovsky, Anton Rubinstein, Igor Stravinsky, Nadia Boulanger, and Leonard Bernstein. It counts André Watts, Philip Glass, James Morris, Hilary Hahn, Cyrus Chestnut, Tori Amos, and numerous Grammy Award-winners among its illustrious alumni. Current faculty includes 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, and Georg Haas.


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 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 work of what it means to prepare artists for a world that is constantly changing. Peabody’s vision for the future is grounded in its founding 160 years ago as a holistic cultural center for the region.

Five Pillars

To realize this vision of marrying the old with the new, and to ensure that Peabody and Johns Hopkins University leverage their competitive advantage, Peabody built its Breakthrough Plan around Five Pillars:  Excellence, Interdisciplinary Experiences, Innovation, Community Connectivity, and Diversity.

  • Excellence: Peabody graduates are among the most successful musicians and dancers competing for high-level positions as soloists, orchestra and ensemble members, chamber musicians, choreographers, and educators; and should emerge as the trailblazers and innovators in their respective disciplines and across disciplines, equipped with the skills needed to achieve the flexibility and connectivity increasingly required of contemporary artists.
  • Interdisciplinary Experiences: Peabody leverages its competitive position as a top conservatory within a world renowned research university through development of cross-disciplinary programs.
  • Innovation: Through innovative initiatives like the Breakthrough Curriculum and LAUNCHPad, Peabody builds on the strength of traditional training while breaking the mold to incorporate 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 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: Diversity is key to future audience development in the performing arts amid rapidly shifting demographics.¬†Growing audiences for the future requires diversifying audiences, and audiences can 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. At the same time, artistic barriers are 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.

Between 2015 and 2019, critical initiatives have been advanced to meet these objectives as the following summary illustrates.


  • In November 2018, Michael Bloomberg announced his extraordinary gift of $1.8 billion to Johns Hopkins University to fund undergraduate scholarships, including a $50 million contribution to fund need-based aid at Peabody, specifically to increase access to undergraduate education for students in the United States. This gift allows Peabody to build on substantial investments made in recent years to increase scholarship funding, resulting in financial aid subsidizing for the first time on average nearly 50 percent of tuition at Peabody.
  • A new admissions plan rolled out in 2016 supported by market research, new systems, rebranding, enhanced faculty involvement, and new programs led to a 24 percent increase in applications to 2,100 over two years.
  • A new faculty contract and evaluation system was rolled out, as well as implementation of regular departmental external reviews in 2016. The 2017-18 academic year was the first year of a revamped faculty governance system, developed by the Faculty Governance Task Force, that includes enhanced chair roles. The last phase of governance work includes a rank and promotion system implemented in the 2019-20 academic year.
  • More than 60 faculty appointments were made over the last three years including renowned additions to the voice faculty, Elizabeth Futral and Randall Scarlata; Thomas Dolby, leading the Music for New Media program, and danah bella leading the Dance BFA. Additions to the composition faculty included Du Yun ‚Äď winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in music and a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship. With the appointment of trumpeter Sean Jones as Richard and Elizabeth Case Chair in Jazz Studies, Peabody has reimagined its jazz program. Internationally renowned violinist Vadim Gluzman joined the violin faculty beginning September 2018 and distinguished violinist Judith Ingolfsson joined the faculty in September 2019. Midori serves as Distinguished Visiting Artist. Pianist Stephen Spooner joins the faculty effective July 2020.
  • A new website was launched in 2017, significantly enhancing Peabody‚Äôs online presence:
  • 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 made the Billboard Charts in 2016, and has been followed by a second CD featuring Marin Alsop, Leonard Slatkin, and Marina Piccinini released in 2019.
  • University-wide awards granted to Peabody faculty in recent years include Catalyst Awards for composers Kevin Puts, Oscar Bettison, Judah Adashi, and Du Yun, and musicology faculty Laura Protano-Biggs in 2018. The 2017 President‚Äôs Frontier Award went to composer Michael Hersch, also named a Gilman Scholar in 2018.

Interdisciplinary Experiences

  • The newly established Johns Hopkins Center for Music and Medicine focuses on musician wellness and palliative uses of music to treat disease, 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, opened in April 2018.
  • Peabody faculty received a Discovery Award to study the impact of singing on dementia patients.
  • 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.


  • Peabody opened LAUNCHPad ‚Äď a 21st century vision for career services that ensures the integration and practical application of the Breakthrough Curriculum into long-term career objectives ‚Äď in November 2019.
  • In fall 2017, following 18 months of work by the Peabody Curriculum for the Future Task Force, the Breakthrough Curriculum was implemented to integrate training for 21st century performing arts careers into the traditional training for which Peabody is renowned. Following its launch, Peabody continued to refine and strengthen the Breakthrough Curriculum‚Äôs efficacy through student focus groups, evaluation, and establishing the Breakthrough Curriculum Work Group charged with assessing progress and recommending additional improvements, which were implemented in the 2019-20 academic year. The Breakthrough Curriculum, which has garnered 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. Over a series of courses that include Exploring Arts Careers, Building a Brand and Portfolio, and Pitching Your Creative Idea, 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.
  • 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. Playing Well represents a unique offering 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 also established in 2015 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 its recent Naxos recordings, expanding its internationally renowned composition department, and launching the 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 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.
  • 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 senior living facilities.
  • 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.


  • In December 2019, the Mellon Foundation awarded Peabody a multi-year grant of $1 million to support Peabody‚Äôs role in the inaugural Baltimore-Washington Musical Pathways (BWMP) collaborative initiative which seeks to diversify the landscape of the American classical music field. As cultural anchors in Baltimore and Washington, DC, the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and other affiliated partners, will work to improve pathways for student musicians in grades 8-12 from historically underrepresented communities, building on and expanding existing Peabody Institute programs.
  • Through the Blue Ribbon Scholarship Program and other initiatives, 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 for the 2019-20 Academic Year is 95 students, 14 percent of all students, up 60 percent since 2015. Similarly, following implementation of Peabody‚Äôs Faculty Diversity Plan three years ago, for the 2019-20 year, URM faculty represent 13 percent of total Conservatory faculty, up from 6.5 percent in 2017.
  • Diversity and inclusion initiatives include establishing the Peabody Institute Diversity Fund in 2016 and other initiatives such as micro-trigger workshops, with Peabody continuing to reinforce its commitment to diversity.

A Vibrant and Sustainable Model

Sustainability requires thinking about program evolution from the perspective of the Five Pillars in the context of a sustainable academic-business model. A five-year model (FY18-FY22) is guiding the Institute in moving toward greater sustainability. For FY18 and FY19, the first two years of the five-year plan, Peabody finished ahead of key financial targets, performing favorable to budget by $2 million over a two-year period.  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.
  • New programs: Breakthrough Curriculum, Dance, Music for New Media, Peabody Online, Music & 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.

The Breakthrough Plan: 2024

Through implementation of the Breakthrough Plan, Peabody has enjoyed a strong trajectory of change and growth touching virtually every aspect of the institution including enrollment, the launch of new programs, curriculum innovation, diversity, faculty governance and recruitment, community engagement, Peabody’s relevance and unique role as a school in one of the world’s top research institutions, and the Institute’s financial health and sustainability. It is therefore timely to engage in a renewal process to take stock of the Breakthrough Plan today, and to assess the ongoing fit of initiatives in support of the Five Pillars  РExcellence, Interdisciplinary Experiences, Innovation, Community Connectivity, and Diversity Рand to make refinements and revisions within the framework of the plan to position Peabody for the next five years. Throughout the 2019-20 academic year this process is engaging more than 90 faculty, staff, students, volunteers and alumni in work groups in order to help shape the next incarnation of Peabody’s Breakthrough Plan.  Following is the process and timeline for this ongoing work.

Process: The Breakthrough Plan Steering Group oversees the process of renewal of the Breakthrough Plan for the next five years, and serves as the umbrella for individual Work Groups as follows:

  • 21st Century Peabody Mission Statement
    • Charge: To review and revise Peabody‚Äôs current mission statement to reflect Peabody‚Äôs history and tradition in the context of a 21st century institution and its strategic direction.
  • Facilities for the Future
    • Charge: To identify, guide and prioritize future facility needs consistent with Peabody‚Äôs institutional and programmatic direction including residence life improvements and enhanced programmatic and learning spaces through a pre-planning and a formal facilities study process.
  • New Program Development
    • Charge: To review recently launched degree programs and curriculum, and to identify and prioritize opportunities for additional degree and non-degree programs going forward.
  • Peabody Preparatory, Summer Programs, and Life-long Learning
    • Charge:¬†To develop a vision and strategy for a 21st century ‚ÄúPreparatory‚ÄĚ as to mission, strategies and tactics inclusive of year-round programs and opportunities for life-long learning, consistent with the Peabody Institute‚Äôs overall strategic direction.
  • New Businesses
    • Charge: To review status of recent start-ups in online and Music & Medicine, and assess next steps and critical priorities going forward.
  • Diversity and Inclusion
    • Charge: Review, revise and refine the Diversity Plan Framework Draft document designed to pull together all existing and future diversity and inclusion initiatives into a comprehensive plan.
  • Talent Development
    • Charge: To assess status of recruitment and retention efforts of faculty and staff, onboarding initiatives, and professional development, and identify strategies going forward.
  • Student Experience
    • Charge: To assess current efforts and identify areas of opportunity and strategies to improve student life on campus.
  • Brand Development
    • Charge: To review Peabody‚Äôs last branding initiative and current state of Peabody‚Äôs brand assets, and recommend next steps to renew the brand.
  • Financial Sustainability and Revenue Development
    • Charge: To review status of Peabody‚Äôs current 5-year financial plan and outlook, and make recommendations based on the next five years to reflect changes in assumptions, initiatives, taking into account all aspects of revenue development including tuition and fundraising.

Timeline:¬† August 1, 2019 ‚Äď May 1, 2020

  • August:¬† Pre-planning
  • September:¬† Breakthrough Plan Steering Group meets and kicks off process
  • October-December:¬† Work Group sessions
  • January:¬† Rollup of Work Group findings and recommendations into BPSG
  • February-April:¬† BPSG finalizes refinements and revisions to current plan, and prepares final document