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An Interview Podcast from Peabody LAUNCHPad

Max Q refers to the most stressful part of a rocket’s ascent. We focus on a similar, often difficult time for new alumni—the initial period following graduation. Our podcast features recent Peabody alumni discussing the challenges they have faced since completing their studies: their jobs, what they have learned, and how their education has impacted their lives as working professionals. Each episode is hosted by Dr. Zane Forshee, Christina Manceor, or Robin McGinness, members of the LAUNCHPad staff.

We at LAUNCHPad seek to help students and alumni forge satisfying and successful careers. We’re excited to share these conversations about pathways to building varied, vibrant, and sustainable lives in the arts!

Credits: 2021 Intro music by Dmytro Nebesh; 2020 Intro music by Vincent Fasano. Audio editing by Greg Hays. Logo by MegDig Design.

If you are an alum and would like to be featured on the podcast, please email

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Season 1 | Season 2

Season 2

11. Max Q – Jacob Lyerly

Jacob Lyerly (MM ’20, Guitar & Pedagogy) joins Robin McGinness to discuss how his experience in the Arts in Health and other Peabody programs built the skills he uses in his career today. While at Peabody Jacob was a member of LAUNCHPad’s student staff, an active performer solo and with his duo Un/Strung, and a regular participant in Peabody’s Arts in Health programing. Currently, Jacob teaches music in North Carolina’s Richmond County Schools.

End of episode music is the first movement from Suite Retratos by Radames Gnattali, performed by the Un/Strung Guitar Duo

Follow Jacob on:
Instagram – @lyerlyjguitar
Facebook – @lyerlyjguitar
or his website –

Recorded Oct. 22, 2021.

10. Max Q – Shannon Fitzhenry

Violinist Shannon Fitzhenry (BM ’18) maintains a busy schedule subbing with the BSO, performing gigs and chamber concerts with other Peabody alumni, and serves as concertmaster for the El Paso Symphony Orchestra. In this episode, she joins Robin McGinness to discuss how she built her current portfolio career, the unique challenges of finding orchestral work, and how to think strategically as an aspiring orchestral performer.  

Follow Shannon on Instagram: @shannon.fitzhenry.violinist

Recorded August 20, 2021.

9. Max Q – Networking

Networking, or making connections with artists, partners, and collaborators is one of the primary challenges we hear about from students and alumni. This week on Max Q we’ve highlighted clips addressing how to talk to people, build relationships, and find strong partners.

In order, here are the full interviews featured in this episode:
Cellist and arts administrator Olivia Rainoff (MM ’20) – Full Episode
Bass, voice teacher, and radio announcer John TK Scherch (MM ’17) – Full Episode
Cellist and conductor Thomas Fortner (GPD ’17) – Full Episode
French guitarist and composer, Julien Xuereb (GPD ’17) – Full Episode
Educator and administrator Alysia Lee (MM ’06) – Full Episode

8. Max Q – Melody Quah

Pianist Dr. Melody Quah, a 2017 Peabody DMA graduate, joins Christina Manceor on Max Q. Melody has a broad-ranging career as a soloist, collaborative pianist, and educator across multiple continents. They discuss navigating the requirements of a new faculty position, keeping a healthy separation from your work, and building experience towards a faculty position. 

The episode closes with a selection from Melody’s recording of Chopin’s Scherzo Op. 54, No. 4.
Penn State School of Music –

Recorded June 9, 2021.

7. Max Q – Passepartout Duo

Christina Manceor speaks with percussionist Chris Salvito (Peabody MM ’16) and pianist Nicoletta Favari of Passepartout Duo. Making music that escapes categorization, the duo’s travel around the world informs the multi-disciplinary collaborations, instrumental compositions, and evocative music videos that constitute their work. The conversation centers on how artistic residencies have been foundational for the Duo, the path from graduation and traditional instruments to their current work with portable ones, and the economics of a small, mobile ensemble. Currently, they are in Iceland working with composer Hafdís Bjarnadóttir on a project called Sheep Music, where they will be performing for sheep throughout Iceland and the Faroe Islands.
Passepartout Instagram
Passepartout Facebook
Daylighting on Bandcamp

Recorded May 12, 2021.

6. Max Q – Daniel Sabzghabaei

This week on Max Q, Robin speaks with composer and vocalist Daniel Sabzghabaei (MM ’17). After Peabody Daniel immediately went on to pursue his doctorate, all while continuing to grow his list of commissions and premieres. We discuss how he deals with creative “drought,” managed to keep creating through the pandemic, trying to escape the trap of being known for a specific kind of work, and what goes into building a compositional team. 

Daniel’s Website
Full recording of Zemestun

Recorded May 9, 2021.

5. Max Q – Jessica Satava

In this episode Dr. Forshee speaks is joined by Jessica Satava (MM ’04, Voice), executive director of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra in Pennsylvania. They discuss Jessica’s journey to leading an orchestra, how she joined her new community and learned their needs through food and concerts, and discoveries about how changing the narrative and venue can open doors to new audiences. 

4. Max Q – Allison Clendaniel & James Young

In this episode, Christina Manceor speaks with Allison Clendaniel (BM ’14) and James Young (DMA ’12). Just to name a few facets of their diverse work, Allison and James are performers, composers, and performing arts presenters based in Baltimore. Alongside their colleague Jason Charney, they co-founded Mind on Fire, a cooperative of highly trained musicians whose goal is to eliminate barriers in classical and contemporary music. On the podcast, we discuss the challenges of balancing freelance work as creative artists, why it’s important to look at success as a process, and how their work with Mind on Fire has evolved over the years.

Allison’s website:
James’ website:
Mind on Fire website:

Upcoming Mind on Fire Virtual Variety Show, feat. Bashi Rose, Natalie Draper, and Orlando Johnson
April 21, 8pm –

Recorded Feb. 25, 2021

Bonus: Max Q – Alysia Lee

Robin McGinness speaks with Alysia Lee, a 2006 graduate from Peabody and current instructor for Peabody’s Breakthrough Curriculum. Alysia is founder and Artistic Director of Sister Cities Girlchoir, an El Sistema-inspired, girl empowerment, choral academy and serves as the education program supervisor for Fine Arts education for the Maryland State Department of Education. Our conversation ranges from building collaboration on the relationships you start at school, to tips on creating themed programming that speaks to all audiences.
Say Her Name – Full Recording
Sister Cities Girlchoir – Graphic Scores Composition Gallery

Interview recorded Mar. 8, 2021.

3. Max Q – Olivia Rainoff

Cellist and arts administrator Olivia Rainoff (MM ’20) discusses her post-graduation life and work with Robin McGinness, particularly how she found a full-time position after leaving Peabody. We explore her process of finding a job during the pandemic, what prepared and inspired her to pursue a job with Death of Classical, and how her administrative work has revitalized her practice.
To America (Recorded broadcast from The Greene Space)

Interview recorded December 1, 2020

Bonus: Max Q – Sandbox Percussion

In this special release, Christina Manceor speaks with Victor Caccese (BM ‘11) and Terry Sweeney (BM ‘13), two members of Sandbox Percussion, a quartet with a focus on creating performances and collaborations that are both visually and aurally impactful for a variety of audiences. We discuss how the group’s priorities have evolved, how they have continued to move forward professionally during the pandemic, and the importance of placing business responsibilities in the context of your artistic work to stay motivated and inspired.

Learn more about Sandbox on their WebsiteYouTube, and Patreon.

Outro music is from David Crowell’s Music for Percussion Quartet off Sandbox’s new album AND THAT ONE TOO.

Interview recorded January 21, 2021.

2. Max Q – Thomas Fortner

Cellist and conductor Thomas Fortner (GPD ’17) joins Christina Manceor to discuss the balancing of administrative and artistic work, the behind-the-scenes of starting a non-profit, and how understanding your audience helps create and fund art. We also talk about maintaining motivation and finding creativity for those who don’t perform or make music full-time.

The State of Our Art Podcast
Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite (full performance)

Interview recorded October 16, 2020

1. Max Q – Julien Xuereb

Max Q’s second season premieres with French guitarist and composer, Julien Xuereb (GPD ’17), speaking with Christina Manceor. We discuss how Julien built his freelance performance and teaching career, as well as his strategies for setting rates, negotiating with clients, managing time, and setting goals for long-term projects.

Outro music is Through the Telescope, composed and performed by Julien Xuereb

Interview recorded October 9, 2020

Season 1

12. Max Q – Teng Chen

In this episode, Christina Manceor is joined by Teng Chen (BM & MA ’17), who is a freelance audio engineer currently based in New York City.  In addition to her work as a studio engineer, Teng is also a music production mixer and editor at Saturday Night Live. Teng shares how her goals and path have transformed since she began her studies at Peabody, why networking played a key role in her transition from Baltimore to New York, and the different ways she approaches negotiation with various clients.

Philadelphia Orchestra concert series: Our City, Your Orchestra

Interview recorded Oct. 5, 2020.

11. Max Q – Sarah Thomas

Sarah Thomas (MM ’19) joins Christina Manceor in this episode to share her journey as a violinist, chamber musician, and teacher. We explore how her work with Bergamot Quartet has evolved since graduation, what it’s like to teach virtual lessons during the pandemic, and how new and unexpected experiences can be surprisingly influential in both artistic and other professional work. Since Sarah is currently pursuing a Professional Studies Diploma at Mannes School of Music along with her chamber group, the Bergamot Quartet, we also discuss ways to balance work, school, and basic life needs while taking classes full time – and how these different perspectives inform each other.
MATA Jr. Festival, featuring Bergamot Quartet
MATA Jr. Concert Video

Interview recorded Sept. 30, 2020

10. Max Q – Amanda Dame

This episode of Max Q features flutist and educator Amanda Dame (MM ’19) speaking with Robin McGinness. While at Peabody, Amanda was a peer mentor in the LAUNCHPad office. We discuss what can be gained from frustration, finding opportunities in unlikely places (like Craigslist), and how offering free lessons impacted her private teaching. She also shares how she has built her connections and performance opportunities after leaving school, and the way she discovered that she didn’t enjoy seeking orchestra jobs.
Office Ladies Podcast
Millionaire Musician Group on Facebook

Outro music from Amanda’s Master’s Recital at Peabody with Pianist Hui-Chuan Chen. 

Interview recorded July 20, 2020

9. Max Q – Sahun Sam Hong

Pianist, teacher, and entrepreneur Sahun Sam Hong speaks with Robin McGinness about his approaches to freelancing, and the importance of building business and tech skills as a performer. Currently finishing his doctorate at Peabody, Sam built on the skills he gained from Peabody’s Performer referral service to grow his business as a freelancer, including starting a concert design agency, Subito Arts.
Full recording of concert with Ensemble 132

Interview Recorded May. 20, 2020

8. Max Q – Taylor Davis

Taylor Davis (MM’ 19) joins Christina Manceor to discuss ways to manage long-term projects, balancing multiple aspects of a portfolio career, and how to approach planning for the future. We also explore ways to engage followers on social media, getting more comfortable with failure, and the importance of trying new things.

Percussion Pal
2×1 Media

Intro music by Vincent Fasano. Audio editing by Greg Hays. Logo by MegDig Design.

Interview Recorded Apr. 24, 2020

Music Journalist Amanda Cook

This is a special release, outside of our interviews with recent Peabody alumni. To engage with the current dramatic changes in our world, LAUNCHPad director Dr. Zane Forshee is interviewing distinguished professionals in our field about the impact of COVID19 on students and artists in the performing arts.

On today’s release, Dr. Forshee speaks with Boston-based music journalist, digital editor, and arts administrator Amanda Cook. During their conversation they discuss how artists and artistic institutions are adapting to creating virtual performances, and how virtual performances are encouraging experimental art-making, creating new opportunities for storytelling, and pushing artists to stand out. 

7. Max Q – John T.K. Scherch

This episode Robin McGinness speaks with bass, voice teacher, and radio announcer John TK Scherch (MM ’17). We explore the idea of ‘creating luck’ – how you can use networking, persistence, and building on your prior experience to ‘luck’ into an ideal career. Additionally, we touch on the role failure can play in your career path and the importance of taking the time to identify your passions.

WBJC – Maryland’s Classical Music Station
U92 The Moose
Pause and Listen – John’s Podcast
InSeries – Innovative DC based opera company

Dean Abra Bush

This is a special release, outside of our interviews with recent Peabody alumni. To engage with the current dramatic changes in our world, LAUNCHPad director Dr. Zane Forshee is interviewing distinguished professionals in our field about the impact of COVID19 on students and artists in the performing arts

This episode, Dr. Forshee interviews Abra Bush, Peabody’s Senior Associate Dean of Institute Studies. They discuss how mindset and routines can help make your way through quarantine, Peabody’s Lunch and Learn series for arts educators and how it got started, as well as ways the pandemic accelerated preexisting trends in the performing arts such as the increased importance of entrepreneurship and social media.

Upcoming and recorded listings for Peabody’s summer Lunch and Learn series 

Conductor Marin Alsop

This is a special release, outside of our interviews with recent Peabody alumni. To engage with the current dramatic changes in our world, LAUNCHPad director Dr. Zane Forshee is interviewing distinguished professionals in our field about the impact of COVID19 on students and artists in the performing arts

In this release, Dr. Forshee speaks with Marin Alsop, Director of Peabody’s Graduate Conducting Program and music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Their conversation touches on how the current crisis has accelerated classical music’s entry into the 21st century, using slowdown created by the shutdowns to reevaluate how you are spending your time, and the unifying power of joy.

6. Max Q – Kris Johnson

In this episode, Christina Manceor is joined by jazz trumpeter, composer, and educator Kris Johnson (Michigan State University, MM ’07), who visited Peabody as a guest artist in Fall 2019.  We discuss how to stay organized while maintaining a busy freelance career, ways to work smarter rather than work harder, and tips for making genuine connections with colleagues and mentors. Kris also shares his experience building business and technology skills that help him maximize his creative projects.

Learn more about Kris through his WebsiteYouTube, and Instagram.
The Four Stages of Mastery –

Interview Recorded Mar. 20, 2020

danah bella

This is a special release, outside of our interviews with recent Peabody alumni. To engage with the current dramatic changes in our world, LAUNCHPad director Dr. Zane Forshee is interviewing distinguished professionals in our field about the impact of COVID19 on students and artists in the performing arts

This episode Dr. Forshee speaks with danah bella, chair of Peabody Conservatory Dance. They explore the meaning of arts during the COVID-19 crisis, increased access to instructors in different styles from all over the world, understanding what is enough for you, and using this time to discover what kind of artist you are.

danah’s recommendations:

Conductor Joseph Young

This is a special release, outside of our interviews with recent Peabody alumni. To engage with the current dramatic changes in our world, LAUNCHPad director Dr. Zane Forshee is interviewing distinguished professionals in our field about the impact of COVID19 on students and artists in the performing arts
In this release, Dr. Forshee speaks with Joseph Young, Peabody’s Ruth Blaustein Rosenberg Artistic Director of Ensembles. and Professor of Conducting. The conversation touches on remaining collaborative when we are all isolated, finding new possibilities by asking what listeners are missing, sharing your process and not just the product, and the silver-lining of time for reflection created by the shutdown.

5. Max Q – Claire Galloway Weber

Claire Galloway Weber (MM ’15) joins Robin McGinness to explore the value of secondary skills or even degrees in maintaining a sustainable career, knowing when to pursue management, and the importance of having supportive team. We also talk about the loss of structure that happens after leaving school, and the need to create a schedule and goals for yourself to keep moving forward.
Check out Claire’s WebsiteYouTube, and Instagram

Mad Scenes and Exit Arias: The Death of the New York City Opera and the Future of Opera in America – Heidi Waleson
Art of Asking – Amanda Palmer

Interview Recorded Mar. 25, 2020

Max Q COVID-19 Interviews – Trumpeter Sean Jones

This is a special release, outside of our interviews with recent Peabody alumni. To engage with the current dramatic changes in our world, LAUNCHPad director Dr. Zane Forshee is interviewing distinguished professionals in our field about the impact of COVID19 on students and artists in the performing arts.

Here Dr. Forshee speaks with trumpeter Sean Jones, Richard and Elizabeth Case Chair of Peabody’s Jazz Department. The interview touches on leaning on other artists for inspiration and support, using the current situation as an opportunity to maximize limited resources, as well as the importance of goals, scheduling, and managing your time.

Bonus: Max Q – Susan Zhang

In this bonus episode entrepreneur and pianist Susan Zhang (GPD 18’) discusses how she cofounded The Concert Truck, a startup she created during her time at Peabody, and the skills needed to keep it running.

You can learn more about The Concert Truck at their website ( or by following them @theconcerttruck on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram.

Interview Recorded Feb. 13, 2019

4. Max Q – Zoe Fried

Performer, administrator, and arts advocate Zoe Fried (MM ‘16) speaks with Christina Manceor about the ways those who work in the arts can inspire audiences, both through their work on stage as well as back stage. We also discuss how Zoe discovered her passion for arts administration, ways to approach thinking about long-term goals, and finding common ground to organically connect with your colleagues.

Learn more about the Shriver Hall Concert Series.

Interview Recorded Jan. 29, 2019.

Bonus: Max Q – Michael Repper

This is a bonus Max Q interview excerpt with DMA conducting candidate Michael Repper. We discuss networking, managing your time as a freelancer, and wisdom from Disney movies. Find out more about Michael and his current projects at his website

Interview Recorded Jan. 24, 2019

3. Max Q – Molly Grace Young

Soprano, teacher, and chamber musician Molly Grace Young (MM ‘13) speaks with Robin McGinness about the importance of diversification, both in life and in your career as a musician. We touch on the relationship between teaching and performing, the importance of establishing a flexible studio that allows for your performance schedule, balancing ambition and contentment to set goals given an uncertain future, and the necessity of self-care and creating a life outside of music.  

Interview Recorded Jan. 15, 2019.

2. Max Q – Ledah Finck

Composer, violinist, and violist Ledah Finck (MM ’18) discusses with Christina Manceor the importance of finding inspiration inside and outside of school, the difficulty of saying no, and how to manage touring with her ensembles in Baltimore and New York while holding space for practicing and composing. 

Learn more about Ledah Finck, the Bergamot Quartet, and her piece “In the Brink.”

Interview Recorded Jan 25, 2019

1. Max Q – Ryan Tani

Music Director and Conductor Ryan Tani (MM ‘17) speaks with Robin McGinness about the challenges of maintaining balance between his administrative jobs, conducting positions, and life in general.

Learn more about Ryan Tani and Occasional Symphony on their websites.

Interview recorded Jan 30, 2019