JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY
Amid existential crises that threaten the future of the performing arts — from systemic racism to a global pandemic — Peabody presses forward undaunted.
Vol. 15 No. 1
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CONTENTS 4 Headliners
Music in the Time of Coronavirus By Rafael Alvarez
Peabody entered the COVID-19 shutdown well ahead of most other American conservatories. Here’s how the learning continued.
Possibilities for Progress
By Angela N. Carroll Art by Erin Robinson What steps must we take to rectify systemic racism in the world of Classical music?
Commencement ‘Let’s Go Find Them’ Podcast Series Makes a Powerful Debut Rowe Appointed to Top Post in External Relations
Inspiring Community Connections True to Her Craft The Power to Change People
The latest news and accomplishments involving students, faculty, and alumni from the Preparatory and Conservatory. Making Connections During COVID-19 ‘So Much to Do’
A Young Life in Music Believing in the Power of Education
A Lasting, Last-Minute Musical Connection
Breakthrough 2024 By Linell Smith
Peabody’s new strategic plan positions the institute — and its students — for future economic and cultural uncertainties.
ABOUT THE PEABODY INSTITUTE OF THE JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY The Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University comprises both the degreegranting Peabody Conservatory and the community-facing Peabody Preparatory, empowering musicians and dancers from diverse backgrounds to create and perform at the highest level. Building on its rich history as America’s first conservatory, Peabody extends the power of the performing arts and robust artistic training throughout the greater Baltimore community and around the world, staging more than 1,000 concerts and events each year both on- and off-campus. Focused on the five pillars of excellence, interdisciplinary experiences, innovation, community connectivity, and diversity, Peabody has introduced the Breakthrough Curriculum into its rigorous core professional training to prepare flexible and innovative artists for 21st-century careers. As part of one of the world’s great research universities and medical institutions, Peabody is also taking a leading role in the field of performing arts medicine, advancing important initiatives in both arts-in-healthcare and clinical care for performing artists.
Cover art by John W. Tomac
FROM THE DEAN
Dean Fred Bronstein
These past eight months have been remarkable and unprecedented, marked by public health and social crises that have inspired all of us to think anew about the meaning of what we do and our place in the world. For artists and institutions whose missions are to touch people with the arts, it has been a time to find new ways to meet a bold mission. For Peabody, that has meant rededicating ourselves to training the most diverse and outstanding group of artists possible for a constantly changing, unpredictable world. Since the onset of the pandemic last March, after moving all our programs to a remote format within days, we immediately began planning for the fall semester. With the safety of the community and the delivery of the best quality education possible as guiding principles, we planned for a hybrid return, but invested in the infrastructure and training to ensure the highest quality student experience possible in a fully remote instructional mode, which is where we have arrived for the fall 2020 semester. And while there are many challenges in this new world, it has allowed us to further challenge our students with developing the important entrepreneurial, creative, and technological skills that we have been emphasizing in recent years through the Breakthrough Curriculum. Well before the pandemic, Peabody started providing students with a comprehensive education that prepares them for the real world — a world that can change at a moment’s notice, as we have all experienced over these months. This kind of education provides students with the background they need for innovation and creativity, resilience and perseverance, and the skills to be flexible and adaptable as they navigate the ever-changing performing arts landscape. The pandemic has not been the only life-changing event these past months. The national spotlight on the issues of racism and police violence against Black communities has also made us think anew about racism in our own community and industry, specifically in the field of classical music. While Peabody has made real and genuine progress in the recruitment of faculty and students of color, we have much to do to move beyond the historic reality of racism at Johns Hopkins, Peabody,
and in our field. Since spring, Peabody has launched a number of new initiatives, building on our existing work, to convene community conversations, secure new funding to enhance diversity on campus, begin a deep look at our curriculum and the historic and exclusionary way that western classical music has been presented, and to take a leadership role in opening that curriculum up to a wider and more representative group of creative voices. Here, too, as in the case of preparing forward-thinking artists to lead in a new world, Peabody must lead our industry in addressing these historic challenges around race. We are fully committed to that work. While events often shape an institutional agenda — indeed, we must respond to the moment — it is important to have a strong, forward-looking vision. For that reason, throughout last year Peabody was deeply engaged in a review of our first Breakthrough Plan and the development of our new plan, which shapes the next five years for the institute. While the bulk of the work on the Breakthrough Plan 2024 was completed before COVID-19 emerged and before the protest movement that began last spring, our vision was already robust in its direction around priorities that have emerged with ever-greater urgency in recent months, be that the importance of technology as part of the future of performance or the critical need to open up our world of performance to a more diverse world. I’m confident that with this new plan, Peabody is able to build on our progress in recent years, weathering the challenges of the last year, emerging stronger for it, and being prepared to forge ahead as one of the premier performance training institutions in the world. Finally, on August 2, the music world and the Peabody community lost a giant with the passing of Leon Fleisher. For more than six decades, Leon Fleisher’s name was synonymous with Peabody. We are incredibly blessed to have had Leon in our midst for all these many years. While Peabody can never be quite the same without him, it is in part the place it is today because of him. Sincerely,
Leon Fleisher, the revered American pianist and conductor who taught at the Peabody Conservatory for 60 years, died at a Baltimore hospice on August 2. “With the passing of Leon Fleisher, the music world has lost one of its towering figures,” said Peabody Dean Fred Bronstein. “Leon’s remarkable gifts as a musician, pianist, and teacher were matched only by his charm, wit, intelligence, and warmth as a human being. We were extremely fortunate to have had this man in our midst for so many years, and his absence will be felt keenly throughout the Peabody community.” Famously a child prodigy, Fleisher made his debut with the New York Philharmonic when he was 16 years old and was hailed as “the pianistic find of the century.” He went on to international renown and a prolific performing and recording career, most notably making recordings with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra that are recognized as among the great collaborations in the concerto repertoire. When focal dystonia cost him the use of his right hand, Fleisher channeled his musicality into the piano repertoire for left hand, took up conducting, and renewed his dedication to teaching at Peabody, where he has inspired hundreds of students since 1959. It would be several decades before combined therapies allowed him to regain the use of his right hand, leading to an extraordinary return to performance and recording. A documentary film about his amazing life story, Two Hands, was nominated for a 2007 Academy Award. In 2013, Sony Classical issued a 23-CD box set of his entire recorded output. Leon Fleisher held the Andrew W. Mellon Chair at the Peabody Conservatory and served on the Peabody Institute Advisory Board. He continued teaching and conducting online master classes into the final weeks of his life.
July 23, 1928 – August 2, 2020
Reflections Elena Fischer-Dieskau (GPD ’15, Piano) Leon Fleisher, you are not gone, you will never be gone...you are immortal. Because every word, every moment, every thought, every gesture, every sound, every idea shared with you is wide awake and alive — it will always be. The years spent learning next to you are more precious than all of the treasures in the world, and I remain forever grateful. Not a day goes by without having your wise, deep, and powerful words resonating in my mind. I know you are having a toast with Brahms and Beethoven up there and that thought helps. Michael Sheppard (BM ’98, MM ’00, GPD ’03, Piano) Thank you, Leon, for all the gifts you’ve given me. Some of them are still unraveling or tripping or unfolding into the light even to this day. I’m sure many others will hit me or bloom when I least expect it. But I will continue to do my best to share what I’ve learned from you. I know I’ve been given greatness, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t appreciate it and try, in some small way, to shine it forward, even in these uncertain times. Yo-Yo Ma, cellist Leon Fleisher’s music and teaching will never be forgotten. From his searing recording of Brahms’s First Piano Concerto to his master classes, which gave such spirited voice to music’s essential truths, we who have been touched by this giant are forever in his debt. Share your memories of Leon Fleisher at: bit.ly/32k9vAi
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Peabody Institute Advisory Board Rheda Becker Paula E. Boggs
(KSAS BS ’81, International Studies)
Barbara M. Bozzuto Christopher Brathwaite
(BM ’97, Violin; KSAS BA ’97, Psychology)
Abbe Levin Jill E. McGovern, Chair Christine Rutt Schmitz (BM ’75, Voice)
Solomon H. Snyder Ci-Ying Sun
(BM ’92, MM ’94, Piano)
Richard Davison Larry D. Droppa Nancy S. Grasmick, Vice Chair
Marc von May David L. Warnock
Michael Greenebaum Allan D. Jensen
Emeritus Members Pilar Bradshaw Benjamin H. Griswold IV Taylor A. Hanex
(Ed Cert ’75, PhD ’80, Education)
(KSAS BA ’65; Med MD ’68)
Michiko S. Jones Laifun Chung Kotcheff Christopher Kovalchick
(BM ’06, Violin; Engr BS ’06, Mechanical Engineering)
(BM ’75, MM ’78, Piano)
Turner B. Smith
Assistant Professor of Musicology DAVID GUTKIN and Assistant Professor of Composition FELIPE LARA are 2020 awardees of the Johns Hopkins Catalyst Awards. Gutkin’s award will support his work to complete a book exploring the New York avant-garde’s influence on opera and operatic form. Lara’s award will support the creation of Chambered Spirals, a new 30-minute work for large mixed chamber ensemble and its premiere, at Peabody, by New York’s Talea Ensemble. The work will be the last remaining piece to complete a largescale cycle titled Ciclo Concertante.
David Gutkin (left) and Felipe Lara (right)
SAHUN SAM HONG (GPD ’15, MM ’17, Piano), a DMA piano candidate, has been awarded a cash prize of $50,000 as one of the finalists of the 2021 American Pianists Awards. Rather than wait for the winner to be crowned in June 2021, the American Pianists Association decided to award the five finalists a year early. The organization saw the need for these artists to receive early assistance since they are not currently performing due to COVID-19. The competition will culminate with a celebratory weekend June 25–27, 2021, in Indianapolis, at which time the winner of the Christel DeHaan Classical Fellowship will be announced.
OPERA America has announced that nine companies will be awarded $100,000 in grants for commissioning operas by female composers. The recipients include Beth Morrison Projects for Composition JOACHIM THEODORE LIM Professor DU YUN’s In (MM ’16, Percussion), Our Daughter’s Eyes, QIN YING TAN (MM ’10, a one-man opera Piano; MM ’12, featuring baritone Harpsichord; MM ’13, Nathan Gunn. It is slated Musicology), DMA to appear in the 2021 candidate TZU-JOU YEH PROTOTYPE Festival (MM ’15, GPD ’17, Cello), followed by a West CHEN ZHANGYI (MM ’11, Coast premiere with LA DMA ’15, Composition, Opera. MM ’15, Music Theory Pedagogy), and RACHEL HO, who was a flute exchange student, have formed Singapore’s first Baroque orchestra, Red Dot Baroque.
Inspired by the richness of Baroque music and close friendships, ALAN CHOO (MM ’14, Violin, Early Music; GPD ’16, Violin), BRENDA KOH (MM ’19, Violin), GABRIEL LEE (MM ’17, Violin), CHERYL LIM (DMA ’14, Flute),
AMY BETH KIRSTEN (DMA ’10,
Composition) was selected as one of four composers to receive a $10,000 Arts and Letters Award in Music, which honors outstanding artistic achievement and acknowledges composers who have arrived at their own voice.
J. HENRY FAIR
Composer Du Yun’s In Our Daughter’s Eyes received a grant from OPERA America.
Commencement 2020: A Virtual Ceremony Like so many institutions, the Peabody Conservatory saw its plans for an in-person graduation ceremony disrupted by the coronavirus and therefore held the event online on May 20. The Peabody Virtual Orchestra opened the ceremony with a performance of Edward Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance, which was later aired on CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell as part of a segment highlighting graduation celebrations across the nation.
The Peabody Virtual Orchestra (above) and soloists Gavin Horning, Hanna Hyunjung Kim, and Ruoying Pan performed at commencement.
Several notable awards normally given at graduation were announced after the virtual event. Melody Leung (BM ’20, Harp, Music Education) received the Peabody Alumni Award for the undergraduate with highest overall GPA, and the Azalia H. Thomas Prizes, for undergraduates with highest theory GPA, were given to Leung, Audrey Maxner (BM ’20, Violin), Téa Mottolese (BM ’20, Saxophone), and Lauren Redditt (BM ’20, Voice).
Author Alex Ross (above), winner of a 2008 MacArthur Fellowship and longtime music critic for The New Yorker, addressed the graduates and received the George Peabody Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Music in America in honor of his impact as a chronicler of our art and times. Ross noted that music is often in the background, but said, “As musicians and composers of high accomplishment, you deserve to be in the foreground. Music can comfort, can elevate, but it is, above all, a human art, captive to the entire vast, complex range of human intellect and emotion.” Although the event was not held on the Miriam A. Friedberg Concert Hall stage, graduating students performed as usual — just from their For the first time, a student was homes. Gavin Horning (GPD ’20, Jazz invited to speak during the ceremony. Guitar), Hanna Hyunjung Kim CJ Hartung (BM ’20, Voice) (above), (MM ’17; AD ’20, Piano), and Ruoying who was instrumental in reenergizPan (BM ’20, Violin) performed works ing Peabody’s student government by Thad Jones, Alfred Grunfeld, and and served as its president in 2019– Eugène Ysaÿe. 20, was inspired during quarantine by
a lyric from Funny Girl: “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.” “So as the world begins to heal from COVID-19 and as you begin the next stages of your careers, I charge you all with the responsibility of being an artist who needs people — a person who champions what it truly means to create art, to be an advocate for the arts, and to be a friend and a colleague to those around you,” Hartung said in his speech. This year marked the Peabody Conservatory’s 138th graduation exercises with 72 Bachelor of Music degrees, 95 Master of Music degrees, eight Master of Arts degrees, 32 Graduate Performance Diplomas, two Artist Diplomas, and 16 Doctor of Musical Arts degrees conferred. — Margaret Bell View the entire graduation ceremony online: bit.ly/3jeV9rE
It has been nearly five years since Elijah Wirth (BM ’99, Tuba; MM ’02, Wind Conducting and Music Education), chair of winds, brass, percussion, and music theory at Peabody Preparatory, set out on an audacious quest — to recover, arrange, and disseminate the finest works of musical luminaries who, because of gender, race, or ethnicity, never made it into the musical canon. His ultimate goal: to revolutionize the country’s high school music curriculum. “It was after the Freddie Gray uprising, because it had such a powerful impact on the city and the students I care about,” says Wirth, who is director of the Peabody Preparatory Wind Orchestra and helps run Peabody’s Tuned-In program for gifted musicians from Baltimore City’s public schools. “I felt so powerless and wanted to do something, even if it was a small something, to bring about change,” he says. “And, on a personal level, my wife, who works as a lawyer in D.C., is Dominican, and she’d be out pushing our baby — who looks very white, and she does not — in the stroller, and people would ask if she was the nanny. So, I wanted to do something to counter the ignorance out there.” Wirth found his inspiration in his Preparatory Wind Orchestra students, including the Tuned-In members. “Looking at them, I realized I had to diversify my programming,” he says. “And then Aaron Dworkin came to speak.” Dworkin is a Peabody Preparatory alumnus and MacArthur Fellow who founded the Sphinx Organization to promote diversity in the arts. “Someone asked him about Black composers, and he said, ‘They’re out there, they’re just not being performed.’ So I thought, ‘Okay, if they’re out there, let’s go find them.’” Wirth scoured the internet, pored over repertoire lists, and devoured biographies of African American composers. “Then I stumbled on the fact that Scott Joplin, the ragtime pianist, also wrote operas, and 6
‘Let’s Go Find Them’
I thought, ‘Wow, there’s got to be something in there I can arrange for my Preparatory Wind Orchestra.’” There was, and he did. It was Joplin’s vibrant overture to Treemonisha, the tale of the adopted daughter of former slaves Ned and Monisha, who is named Treemonisha because she was found under a tree. It was the first opera about life, post-slavery, by a Black composer, and is just one of a growing list (16 to date) of works by Black and female composers Wirth has already arranged and edited for his students, and one of eight they have recorded. Jonah Lassiter, a talented flute player and Tuned-In alumnus who recently graduated from the Baltimore School for the Arts, says it was “amazing to record those pieces. As an African American musician, I am so proud of [Wirth] for wanting to change the music we play by bringing out these Black and female composers and giving them the credit and recognition they deserve, but haven’t always received.” In the beginning, Wirth did most of his research online, often with the help of kind librarians who would send him scores to download. But in 2017 he applied for his first Dean’s
Incentive Grant and was awarded a $5,000 stipend from Peabody that allowed him to travel to places like the Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane University and The British Library in London, where he spent long days photographing rare scores by some of the most influential African American composers of the early part of the 20th century. These included W.C. Handy, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Florence Price, and James Reese Europe, whose band was the first to play ragtime in Europe and who was so iconic a musician that Fats Waller kept a huge photograph of him above his piano. Isolating with his family at home because of the pandemic and inspired by the worldwide uprisings that resulted from the murder of George Floyd, Wirth started making all of the edited scores and recordings available online, beginning with Europe’s triumphant “Castle Walk” and followed quickly by the Joplin overture, Coleridge-Taylor’s “Danse Nègre,” and works by female composers, including Louise Farrenc’s Overture No. 2. As more arrangements and recordings are produced, they will be added to this rich and readily accessible cache.
“JW Pepper, a huge online distributor of sheet music, has a self-publishing option, so I am putting all of the arrangements on their website, with the proceeds going directly to the Tuned-In program,” Wirth says. Marin Alsop, director of Peabody’s Graduate Conducting Program and music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, has been a major inspiration, Wirth says, and invited him to the BSO archives to view her papers, including priceless orchestral scores she long ago unearthed and arranged by the great James P. Johnson. Known as the king of stride piano, Johnson was a key figure in the evolution of ragtime to jazz, and his most famous composition, “The Charleston,” became an anthem of the 1920s. There were also female performing artists like
Mary Howe, who studied piano at Peabody and later in Paris with Nadia Boulanger. But Howe was also a prolific composer, including for orchestra, which was rare for women at the time. “Women who composed for large orchestras weren’t really taken seriously until the end of the 20th century,” Wirth says. Wirth’s vision for the project keeps expanding — to include contemporary composers, Latin American and Asian composers, and to produce educational videos to accompany the Wind Orchestra’s recordings and tell the artists’ stories. “I love those stories, and I love sharing them with my students,” he says. “I am trying to create four years of programming that actually reflects our demographic makeup, and also balances the traditional canon of wind ensemble music.
It has forced me to think hard about why I program what I do. Do I perform this ‘classic’ because it’s great, or because another piece wasn’t given an opportunity to take its place?” The project seems overwhelming at times, he says, but also enormously compelling. “We have been missing the very specific artistic qualities that women and different ethnicities bring to music,” he says, “and it’s a thrill and a privilege to reclaim their voices.” — Joan Katherine Cramer
Watch Aaron Dworkin’s conversation with Dean Fred Bronstein: youtu.be/PDAYZZLhw48
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Podcast Series Makes a Powerful Debut If LAUNCHPad is the perfect name for the dynamic reincarnation of Peabody’s career office, Max Q — the title of the career team’s new podcast — is a playfully apt extension of the metaphor. “Max Q” is the moment, about a minute into a rocket launch, when the vehicle is subject to the most stress, just before it lifts victoriously out of the dense lower atmosphere. “My LAUNCHPad colleague Robin McGinness (MM ’17 Voice), who is a rocket aficionado, came up with the name, and it was such a great fit because we wanted to focus on the incredibly stressful, but also incredibly exciting first few years after graduation,” says Assistant Director of LAUNCHPad Christina Manceor (MM ’17 Percussion).
Audio edited by Greg Hays (MM ’20, Guitar) with intro music by junior Music for New Media student Vincent Fasano and hosted by McGinness, Manceor, and LAUNCHPad Director Zane Forshee (MM ’01, GPD ’03, DMA ’11, Guitar), the podcast features
COLUMBIA PRO CANTARE 2020-2021 SEASON
A Christmas Noël CPC Chamber Singers Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020 4 PM CHRIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH COLUMBIA, MD
In Nature’s Realm
Sunday, March 7, 2021 4 pm
Saturday, May 1, 2021 8 PM
FIRST EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH ELLICOTT CITY, MD
JIM ROUSE THEATRE, COLUMBIA, MD
inspirational conversations with recent alumni about the many ways in which their paths have unfolded since Peabody. Max Q debuted at the end of January and posts monthly. But then came COVID-19, the abrupt end of in-person classes and performances, and a new and unprecedented uncertainty for Peabody students, faculty, and staff members. “There was a lot of fear,” says Manceor. “Students suddenly couldn’t do live performances, they couldn’t go into classrooms and teach, they couldn’t get together to practice. So we immediately launched an additional series of special COVID-19 podcasts, with Dr. Forshee interviewing distinguished artists about the impact of the pandemic on the industry and how students might make the best use of an incredibly disorienting time.” The COVID series has included interviews with Marin Alsop, director of Peabody’s graduate conducting program and music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; Joseph Young (AD ’09, Conducting), the Ruth Blaustein Rosenberg Artistic Director of Ensembles; Sean Jones, the Richard and Elizabeth Case Chair in Jazz Studies; and danah bella, chair of Peabody Conservatory dance. They talk about the sometimes difficult impact of the pandemic on their own lives, but also about the unprecedented opportunities — to create, innovate, practice, explore, compose, and even to study online, often for free, with teachers around the world, many of whom were all but inaccessible to most students before they, too, were sidelined by the virus. “The interviews have been so powerful, so full of inspiration and hope,” says Manceor. “So we would really like to promote Max Q even beyond Peabody, because it could be a valuable resource for art students and recent graduates everywhere.” — Joan Katherine Cramer Visit the Max-Q landing page: peabody.jhu.edu/max-q
Rowe Appointed to Top Post in External Relations Courtney Rowe has been appointed associate dean for external relations at the Peabody Institute, following an intense national search over the past year. Rowe comes to Peabody from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she served as assistant dean for the college of music advancement team, the senior development officer supporting the College of Music and the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. During her tenure at CU Boulder, she led the College of Music’s $50 million campaign to support the school’s people, programs, endowment, and a major facilities renovation. Rowe previously held development and program implementation roles at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Girls in the Game, and DePaul University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Colorado Boulder. The New Leaders Council selected her as a fellow in 2013, and she has participated in leadership development training through The Fundraising School at the Indiana University Lilly School of Philanthropy. In fall 2020, she is completing her Master of Public Policy from DePaul University. “I am thrilled to join Dean Bronstein’s leadership team to develop and nurture meaningful relationships with our volunteers, donors, alumni, and patrons in support of Peabody’s outstanding programs and people,” says Rowe. “It is a privilege to stand at the intersection of world class education and the arts in a culturally rich setting like Baltimore. I have long believed, and personally witnessed, how the pursuit of higher education can improve an individual’s circumstances, if not completely change their lives. Similarly, the opportunity to drive growth and excitement for the performing arts and the next generation of artists is more important than ever at this moment in time.”
MUSIC in the TIME of CORONAVIRUS Peabody entered the COVID-19 shutdown well ahead of most other American conservatories. Here’s how the learning continued.
By Rafael Alvarez THERE was a time — long, long ago — think they could,” says Montcalmo, who is
when the chalkboard was a new technology. Writing slates were used in schools in India in the 11th century, and by the 16th century there is evidence that slate was first hung on a wall for music instruction in Europe. Today, no one thinks of a blackboard or the dusty sticks of color used on them, as technology, defined as the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes. Long before the global pandemic hit and all Peabody faculty members began teaching remotely, it was Joseph Montcalmo’s desire that instructors give no more thought about the technology behind online learning than they would to using a chalkboard. “With online teaching, our faculty members discovered that they could make the human connection when they didn’t
Peabody’s director of academic technology and instructional design. “We’ve done our job when people don’t even think of how it’s happening.” That hasn’t quite happened yet, but Peabody entered the COVID-19 crisis well ahead of most American conservatories in making it come true, thanks to the prescience of administrators who had the vision several years ago to create a team for academic technologies and instructional design within Peabody’s Information Technology Department. Thus, when Johns Hopkins was abruptly forced in mid-March to send students home to complete all their spring coursework online, instructors across the Peabody Conservatory and Preparatory were ready.
Watch Peabody’s Lunch & Learn on Instructional Design Basics: youtu.be/mQlctpRNvgE PEABODY
Cello Professor Amit Peled, in his elaborate home studio setup, says, “Once I became used to the Zoom setup, I realized that being quarantined presented a unique opportunity: to reach out to cellists around the world. It has been not only enlightening but heartwarming to connect with cellists who are looking to grow as musicians.”
TH E N EW NO RM AL Montcalmo was hired in the summer of 2016, just a few months after Abra Bush, a classically trained singer, became Peabody’s senior associate dean of institute studies. “Peabody’s leadership had already been thinking about all of this before I got here and asked me to build an innovative team,” says Montcalmo. “It was an environment where no instructional designer had yet set foot.” Part of the objective in launching the project with gusto well before it was do-or-die was to innovate in terms of course delivery and pedagogy for the Preparatory and Conservatory. “We wanted to ensure that all students were receiving the same information in each course,” whether they attended virtually or in person, says Bush. “Our initial online offerings were remedial courses for entering graduate students in music theory and music history. We have since built graduate seminars and courses from our Breakthrough Curriculum and others in an online format.” She adds: “Having a team like Joe’s embedded in a place like Peabody is very unusual.” And, as this year proved most unforgivingly — very timely. Not long after the first reports of infections in Wuhan, China, in January, says Bush, “we began working on the business implications and very quickly pivoted to delivery of the curriculum in a remote format.” 12
When the decision was made to send students home in March, “the pace and velocity of everything we’d been doing became absolutely supercharged,” says Montcalmo. Throughout spring and early summer, Bush organized Zoom meetings with chief academic officers of other peer American conservatories. What she heard confirmed her sense that Peabody is well ahead in providing high-quality instruction in the absence of face-to-face teaching. “I realized very quickly how lucky we are,” she says, noting that she knows of only one other music conservatory — the Manhattan School of Music — with an instructional designer on staff. “Since [our] team had been in place for a couple of years, we had an advantage right out of the gate,” in quickly guiding Preparatory and Conservatory instructors to move from in-person classroom teaching to remote instruction, says Bush. Well before COVID-19, says Bush, “we’d already wrestled for years with issues like sound compression, music notation, flipped classrooms, and hybrid online courses.” In less than two weeks in early March, Montcalmo and colleagues were charged with preparing all Peabody faculty, to the degree they were willing and able, to teach all of their classes online. (Continued on p. 14)
Dancing to a Different Beat Adapting to online learning wasn’t easy for students in the new dance program of the Conservatory. Issues of dancing on residential flooring — carpet, hard wood, even concrete — and not having enough space in small apartments or rooms with lots of furniture really hampered the students’ ability to take lessons using Zoom. Normally during the school year, dance students would be dancing five to eight hours a day. Chair of Conservatory dance danah bella says she specifically chose not to do that kind of intense work while the students were away. “Physically, they can’t do it because some of them are in spaces that are not conducive to dancing,” bella says. Even with the reduced hours after a couple weeks, “they’re talking about their lower backs hurting; their feet hurting.” Julia Asher, sophomore dance student, adds that “timing, direction, and visibility are really hard to navigate with Zoom.” Typically, the dancers use live musicians in their classes, and they’ve tried using them in virtual classes. “Zoom drowns out background noise,” Asher says. “So oftentimes when the musicians will try to play, we can’t hear the music, and it’s really hard to get timing.” The same is true for recorded music. “Dancing alone in your room with a chair is not the same as dancing with your peers,” says Asher. “It’s been really hard to get motivated to dance.”
That highlights another of bella’s essential goals: trying to maintain a sense of community with the small, close-knit group of around 20 students. The first 10 minutes of every class is spent on checking in with the students to see how they’re holding up in this pandemic. Every two weeks, she holds a “family” meeting. While there were certain challenges facing online learning for dance, bella emphasizes the positive. The dance community quickly came together to offer online resources, “giving dancers access to teachers and choreographers in the U.S. and other countries that they may have not been able to work with otherwise,” she says. This summer, the entire cohort of dance students, including incoming freshmen, and faculty had the opportunity to participate in a weeklong virtual dance workshop with artists affiliated with Gibney Dance based in New York City. They danced together each day from noon to 5:30 pm. For the fall 2020 semester, Peabody has sent portable Marley floors to Conservatory dance students at their homes. The students are concerned that they’re falling behind. “But the thing is,” bella says, “They’re not really going to be behind because everybody in the world is dancing like this.” — Margaret Bell
Chair of Conservatory Dance danah bella and guest artist Christian Denice teach dancers in their homes. The students had to learn “how to not use as many visual cues and use more verbal cues, which for some of the dancers is hard. Some of them really learn visually rather than audibly,” bella says.
Director of Graduate Conducting Marin Alsop (pictured with students) says, “The biggest challenge was not having access to an orchestra, our instrument. This is truly an insurmountable problem, but instead I focused on the many other aspects of conducting that we normally don’t have time to delve into: One example is rehearsal technique.”
David Hildebrand, musicology faculty member, says his students actively embraced and supported “our new ‘classroom’ setup [shown above], such that there were some pleasant and even humorous moments online, much as there used to be in the in-person classroom setting before.”
“I brought the team together on February 28 and asked them to be prepared with a plan to migrate into a remote format should it be needed within two weeks. A week later, they had a framework built for how we would execute this radical change to our traditional delivery system,” says Bush. “I recall asking on March 6, ‘is there any chance you can have this ready to go by Tuesday, March 10?’ And that was the day Hopkins decided we were going remote.” Almost immediately, says Montcalmo, academic technologies received more than 300 inquiries about what to do and how to do it. While Preparatory instructors had to jump in to start teaching online immediately, those in the Conservatory devoted the week of spring break to get ready. Montcalmo and his team provided helpful resources — notably a series of online workshops and a robust website — to support faculty members as they toiled to make the shift to online teaching. The wrestlers on Team Montcalmo are instructional designer Valerie Hartman; technologist and “systems thinker” Martine Richards; Zane Baker (MM ’05, Cello; MM ’09, Early Music, Baroque Cello), a multimedia systems specialist and cellist; and percussionist Matt Stiens (MM ’17, Percussion), whose duties are split between instructional design and the Registrar’s Office. “It hasn’t been easy, but nobody asks why we’re around anymore,” says Hartman. “When I joined Peabody, it was said that classical music was stuck in the 19th century technologically, and now we’ve skipped the 20th and leapt right into the 21st century.” “You can’t take advantage of new technology if the mental shift isn’t there,” says Montcalmo. “It had to [settle] in the minds of faculty and students that there is a new normal. Then we can see what new technologies work and what doesn’t. Eventually it plays out in the marketplace.”
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, my goal is to be available to my students no matter how far we are from each other,” says Amit Peled (pictured with students above). “It builds a sense of community while we are quarantined.”
FO RC ING A M I N D SH I FT Not everyone, particularly some more seasoned faculty members, was thrilled to realize they had no choice in the matter. According to Montcalmo, instructors tended to fall within three categories: unhappy and hesitant; okay, let’s see how it goes; and raring-to-go. “There were a number of skeptical teachers in the spring,” he says. “But the virus forced a mind shift. Once the students were dispersed, it forced faculty to re-think how they teach because education had to go on.” Almost always skewing younger than their professors, students were by-and-large comfortable with the new normal even if some of their families had reservations. A few, like 15-year-old Preparatory violinist Matthew J. Seliger of Columbia, Maryland, even taught their instructors a few simple things about the digital world. “Different settings, mute and unmute, stuff like that,” says Seliger, who asked his Preparatory teacher — Lenelle Morse, assistant director of the Young People’s String Program — for more things to work on while in quarantine. Teachers who were reluctant needed more than a little hand-holding as members of the instructional
design team walked them through the intricacies of Zoom and similar platforms both in person (distanced and masked) and through a series of online workshops. “It’s not about judging someone who doesn’t know how to log into Zoom to start teaching. They weren’t hired for those skills and were never expected to do it before,” says Hartman of those who needed basic computer instruction. Echoing Montcalmo’s belief that his department’s real challenge was not technical but human — getting people to “be easy on themselves” as they learned — Hartman observes, “No one wants to look foolish. Our faculty rallied.” Folks in the middle ground were eager to learn and get on with what they loved best: teaching. “Huge kudos to my department,” says the Preparatory’s Morse. “Hopkins stopped in-person classes as of March 10 and my entire department [almost immediately] went online for private lessons. After a week and a half, we were doing group classes remotely.” Chelsea Buyalos (BM ’11, MM ’12, Voice), an alumna who works in the Peabody concert office and teaches in her own private studio, helped get faculty up to speed. “When the crisis hit, Chelsea was one of the people PEABODY
who pitched in to help my team help other faculty,” says Montcalmo. “She was already a seasoned, oneon-one remote teacher,” he says, and those skills were used in assisting faculty in both the Conservatory and Preparatory. Buyalos arrived at that juncture out of necessity. One summer about six years ago, she was committed to eight weeks of personal performance engagements, “but I was also teaching several students from high school who were preparing for college auditions.” “I wanted to be there for them,” says Buyalos, whose oldest student is in her 70s. “The situation allowed me to explore” all of the constantly evolving options in the world of virtual education. And that put her at the head of the class last March when, almost overnight, the future was now. “It wasn’t a question of if,” says Maria Mathieson, a trombonist and director of the Peabody Preparatory. “We had no choice but to pull the Band-Aid off.” Conservatory voice instructor Elizabeth Futral, a widely heralded soprano, has found remote instruction to be laser-like in spotting bad form and the errors that follow. “I’ve been able to see and hear issues more acutely even with imperfect technology,” said Futral from her home in Roanoke, Virginia. “In a studio, the voice is carried and somewhat buoyed and masked by lovely acoustics. The technology we’re using doesn’t have
the ambience of a studio, but in its imperfection I can hear problems more acutely and get right in and deal with them.”
BE YO N D T H E PAN D E M I C Remember the blackboard, that groundbreaking technology that made its way into the classroom about the time that the Italian friar Serafino Razzi was writing carnival songs? One of the more popular tech platforms across JHU campuses is called Blackboard Learn. The more things change … the more things change. “What we’ve done will [endure] long beyond the pandemic in terms of pedagogy in the classroom, and removing barriers to instruction under difficult circumstances,” says Hartman, who helped Montcalmo to build the Peabody Digital Teaching Collective, a six-week summer curriculum for instructors as they prepared for this fall’s semester. “Is [the remote way] perfect?” asked Buyalos. “No.” And yes, she said, there are limitations that challenge the educator. “But can it work? Absolutely.” Rafael Alvarez is the author of the Orlo and Leini tales and writes from Baltimore’s Greektown neighborhood.
Kip Wile, professor of music theory, says he hopes that what students remember about this time is, “That despite the absence of in-person teaching, they were able to gain a rich and rewarding educational experience that was highly beneficial to their growth as musicians.”
Above is the computer setup of Susan Weiss, associate professor of musicology, who says, “We could cater to [the students’] individual schedules in ways not possible before the move to remote teaching.”
Updates for Fall 2020 As Peabody faculty and staff rose to meet the challenges of the sudden move to remote instruction last spring, they were also laying the groundwork for what was — at the time — a very uncertain future. The fall semester seemed a world away, and there was no predicting the course of the pandemic or its impact on the 2020–21 academic year. But the many lessons learned from those initial forays into teaching by Zoom became the foundation for a summer of learning and preparation. “We didn’t know what the fall semester was going to look like, but we knew it would not be business as usual,” notes Abra Bush, senior associate dean for institute studies. “So we spent the summer investing heavily in training, knowledge sharing, and infrastructure upgrades to be ready for any eventuality.” In the end, the trajectory of the virus, combined with the unique challenges of teaching music and dance, dictated the decision to remain in a fully remote instructional mode through the fall semester. (Ultimately, Johns Hopkins University made the same decision across all of its divisions.) And Peabody was ready with a plan that includes applied lessons, technique courses, chamber music, and other ensembles, as well as the full suite of academic courses. Over the summer, faculty and staff devoted more than 1,200 hours to learning best practices for remote instruction and course design and exploring a broad range of technology teaching tools through an initiative called the Peabody Digital Teaching Collective. Peabody also shared its newly developed expertise with more than 3,500 artists and educators from around the globe in a series of Lunch & Learn webinars spotlighting innovative online pedagogy. “One of the big questions on students’ minds has been: ‘What will ensembles look like?’” notes Dean
Bush. “In the spring we simply had to suspend group instruction of that kind, but for fall we have been able to develop a new approach.” “Student work in ensembles this semester will center on collaborative projects that will build ensemble skills and community,” said Joseph Young (AD ’09, Conducting), the Ruth Blaustein Rosenberg Artistic Director of Ensembles. “We are excited to harness technology to give students hands-on experience in recording and convene conversations and workshops with creators from across disciplines and around the world.” With students at their homes in different countries, another challenge of last spring’s semester was enabling participation and fostering collaboration across time zones. Many courses are now configured to be taken asynchronously for those students who cannot participate in real time. Beyond academics, the Office of Student Affairs has collaborated with student leaders and others to create opportunities for student activities that translate to the remote environment. Plans in this area include virtual game nights, virtual service opportunities with Baltimore-based nonprofits, and continued support for student clubs and organizations. A new app called CampusGroups is helping students connect — with each other and to events and activities. “This pandemic has forced us to re-think everything — and that’s where the opportunities are,” says Dean Fred Bronstein. “The performing arts will survive this pandemic, but things are not likely to look exactly the same as before. Peabody students are learning to take advantage of these real-life lessons in adaptability, artistic flexibility, and creative resilience and will be better prepared to carry music and dance forward in the world in exciting and relevant ways.” — Tiffany Lundquist PEABODY
Possibilities for Progress An Essay by Angela N. Carroll Illustration by Erin Robinson
What steps must we take to rectify systemic racism in the world of Classical music?
IN 1971, German composer, writer, and filmmaker
Hans G. Helms interviewed Black composers, opera singers, and musicians in New York to assess histories of prejudice in Classical music. A young Sanford Allen, the first African American violinist in the New York Philharmonic, offered a grave response. “The art world tends to view itself as being something apart from the mainstream. As a result, it tends to think that it does not have the failings of the rest of mankind. I think that has been the source of a lot of the trouble … people insisting, ‘We don’t do that!,’ ‘What are you talking about?’ It’s impossible to correct a situation that people won’t admit exists.” Almost 50 years later, the struggle for large and small music ensembles in the United States to acknowledge and rectify long-standing racial and gender disparities in the field remains an ongoing point of contention for patrons and performers alike. PEABODY
In 2016, researcher James Doeser conducted a study with the League of American Orchestras to evaluate racial/ethnic and gender diversity in the orchestra field. The report revealed that while some progress has been made, significant disparities across racial/ ethnic and gender divides persist. A poll administered between 2002 and 2014 showed that African American musicians represent just 1.8% of orchestra players in the United States and only 3.4% of orchestral board members. Data also confirmed that although African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian/ Pacific Islander, American Indian/Alaskan Native, and other nonwhite backgrounds collectively increased fourfold over the last 34 years (1980–2014) from 3.4% of all musicians to 14.2%, there have been no gains for African American musicians. In recent years, their inclusion hovered at around 1.8% from 2002 to 2014. How will Classical music survive in an increasingly Black and brown world if the genre remains stubbornly exclusive? This moment of global uprising in response to histories of state-sanctioned violence against Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and LGBTQIA+ lives, and our collective mourning over the hundreds of thousands who have succumbed to COVID-19, provides an opportunity for
individual and institutional advancement. How can individuals educate themselves and their communities so that they can be confident and powerful allies in the fight to eradicate systemic oppression? How can institutions, organizations, and corporations assess and revise problematic policies and practices that discourage inclusivity and diversity? Posting tailored statements of support and concern on social media is not sufficient. This is the time for decisive reform and reconciliation. To understand what Classical music is, as it has been defined by contemporary composers and scholars, requires candid cultural contextualization. For Amiri Baraka, there is a stark distinction between what he called “European concert music” and “American Classical music,” aka the Blues. Rahsaan Roland Kirk diverges from what is traditionally regarded as “Classical music” to elaborate on “Black Classical music,” commonly referred to as jazz. The hierarchies that classify particular cultural traditions as distinguished or “high” forms of art and other, typically non-European genres as lesser forms of art, maintain false valuations about the relevance of Othered creative expressions. This presumption exacerbates established prejudices about
Aaron P. Dworkin founded the Sphinx Organization to transform lives through the power of diversity in the arts.
FIGHTING RACISM On June 5, 2020, Dean Fred Bronstein announced the following new initiatives at Peabody to address racism.
How will Classical music survive in an increasingly Black and brown world if the genre remains stubbornly exclusive?
the capability of nonwhite musicians and composers. Classical music has been greatly influenced and advanced by the contributions of African, Caribbean, and African American composers — from Chevalier de Saint-Georges Joseph Bologne, a contemporary of Beethoven, to Florence Price, the first African American woman pianist to premiere a symphony at the Chicago Symphony. There are countless others whose names remain obscure, but their profound achievements continue to inform Classical music. “Stravinsky, when he came to the U.S., always made it a point to dig what Ellington was doing,” Baraka noted in the seminal text Digging: The Afro-American Soul of American Classical Music. When institutions like Peabody make an intentional effort to diversify their musicians and staff, it encourages a broader viewership: People are more willing to engage in programming when they see themselves reflected in that programming. “I was concertmaster with the Harrisburg Youth Symphony, and sitting and playing, I was the only Black member of the orchestra,” says Aaron P. Dworkin, Peabody Preparatory alumnus, violinist, and founder of the Sphinx Organization. “A lot of those experiences were isolating, but the way my mind works, I [thought] about what I could do about it.”
• Launch a regular series of community conversations on fighting racism and creating a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion, hosted by guest moderators, for the Peabody community beginning in fall 2020. • Plan, convene, and host a national forum on addressing racism in the performing arts in fall 2020. • Make diversity, equity, and inclusion training mandatory for all faculty and staff. • Establish funding immediately for an annual commission by a Black composer. • Thoroughly integrate a broader set of musical experiences and styles into the curriculum, including in programming for ensembles and academic courses across the Conservatory, by standing up a task force of faculty, staff, and students who will work through the coming academic year to report a plan in spring 2021 for implementation in fall 2021. In addition, Peabody pledges to build on existing efforts to confront historic racism in our institution and field: • Seek now to fully fund the Peabody Preparatory Tuned-In program, which provides a pathway to the performing arts for promising young Black and Latinx musicians and which forms the core of Peabody’s involvement in the BaltimoreWashington Musical Pathways collaborative with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, supported by the Mellon Foundation, which seeks to diversify the American Classical music field. • Commit to doubling funding over the next two years for the Peabody Institute Diversity Fund, established in 2016. • Continue an intense focus on recruiting faculty of color, who now comprise 14% of our faculty, and further our efforts in recruiting and supporting students of color, who will comprise 14% of our student cohort this fall. • Build on our commitment to bring artists from racially diverse backgrounds to campus. • Develop institute staff and Preparatory faculty diversity, while creating a transparent process for assessment and accountability at Peabody around issues of diversity, by establishing a task force to work on the goals identified in the Breakthrough Plan 2024.
A huge part of the decolonizing work that I do is to try and be an example to someone else
— Tyrone Page Jr.
In 1997, compelled by a desire to “empower Black and Latinx musicians to be fully represented and have Classical music audiences be more representative of the nation,” Dworkin founded the Sphinx Organization, an initiative that strives to transform lives through the power of diversity in the arts. Sphinx Tyrone Page Jr. works to provide the same level of support and works with orchestras to encourage artist develop- encouragement to others that he received while he was a student. ment, artist leadership, and education and access. “That’s one of the reasons why I’m actually very, very cautiously optimistic right now, because I see things “A huge part of the decolonizing work that I do is to actually happening and not just commentary,” says try and be an example to someone else, like a sixth Dworkin. “I see certain policies changing. There are a grader who is learning the saxophone who maybe has lot of organizations that are just putting out statements, not been exposed to Classical music,” says Tyrone and that’s good, but of course, they aren’t enough.” Page Jr. (BM ’16, MM ’18, Saxophone; BM ’16, Music Sphinx provides a powerful pipeline for young peo- Education), a teaching artist at Baltimore School for ple who aspire to be a part of the Classical music field the Arts and band director at the Peabody Preparatory to learn how to advance their skills. Sphinx also offers and Oakland Mills Middle School of Howard County, essential guidance for orchestras on how to reform and Maryland. “In my own way, I try to pave the way for resolve, at a local level, inclusivity and diversity issues. younger versions of me.” “I think the big game changer [questions], if you Since graduating from Peabody, Page has worked will, are who’s on the board, who’s on stage playing to provide the same level of support and encourageregularly, who are you featuring, how much of your ment to others that he received while he was a student. budget are you committing towards these issues, and Page acknowledged the privilege of his experience; he how much repertoire are you performing? And … ulti- successfully completed training at the Conservatory mately, do you include Black and Latinx composers?” without experiencing any substantial acts of racial Inclusivity and diversity initiatives are most effec- violence or injustice, an experience that many other tive when they establish symbiotic, equitable, and students of color at Peabody and other predomireciprocal relationships between institutions and nantly white institutions (PWIs) have not had. communities. The institutional support that is proHistories of apathetic response to or lack of acknowlvided to communities should be informed by com- edgement of institutionalized oppression, prejudice, munity input: members of the community who and violence prohibit the assured physical and psyare compensated for their participation on institu- chological safety of Black, Indigenous, and/or People tional boards or as institutional staff. Communities of Color (BlPOC) students during their academic should feel comfortable and confident collaborating careers. Lack of institutional support also amplifies with institutions like Peabody to ensure that their fears BlPOC students may have about their futures; if needs are accommodated and revised as necessary their academic settings represent a microcosm of the to ensure lasting support for those communities. field, what anxieties may be triggered when they conRepresentation matters. sider engagement with the larger profession? 22
Fellow Peabody graduate Taylor Boykins (MM ’14, Voice) is making similar strides to diversify opera. “The connections and collaborations that I had while I was a student have kept me busy since I left,” Boykins offered. “I’m just excited that now I get to give back in my own way.” Both Page and Boykins are working on exciting projects. Page regularly performs as a chamber musician with the collective Mind on Fire, led by James David Young (DMA ’14, Composition), and the pair recently released the album True Fluorescent Skeleton under the Ehse Record label. Boykins is scheduled to perform in a series of socially distanced outdoor concerts devised to make opera more accessible. The support that they received from faculty, staff, and their communities during and after their academic careers has facilitated their ability to continue to work in the Classical music field. “I’m doing the thing that I said I would do when I graduated,” Boykins says. “You really have to go after the things that you want.” “The idea of someone not going for something or feeling like they don’t have a chance because of that lack of representation, it not being normal, or it being rare, I hate that,” Page says. “It never crossed my mind that I didn’t stand a chance because I’m Black. We were fortunate to be in environments, have teachers and a family who did not let us [think that]. As I got better, people would encourage me, like, ‘Don’t you
ever put that horn down!’ I want to be the reason that someone feels like they can make it.” The work to create equitable institutions that can sustain inclusivity and actualize policy reforms will not happen overnight. Real change requires a deep and considerate institutional investment into the communities that they inhabit. It is alarming that the demographics that are reflected in the cities where many orchestras reside are not reflected in the organizational structures of those orchestras. Where is the disconnect? Are institutions collaborating with and requesting feedback from the communities they reside within? Do institutions ensure that any outreach programs they facilitate have true impact? It is essential that organizations look inward to review their own policies and procedures so that any findings that reveal unresolved disparities can be rectified. The possibilities of progress arise when outdated ideologies, policies, and practices are abolished. The work to facilitate true institutional reform and reconciliation will provide pathways that sustain progress for generations to come. Angela N. Carroll, who makes her home in Baltimore’s Charles Village, is a contributing contemporary visual art, performance, and film criticism writer for HyperAllergic, BmoreArt, Black Art in America, and Sugarcane Magazine.
Taylor Boykins strives to make opera both more diverse and more accessible.
By Linell Smith
Peabody’s new strategic plan positions the institute — and its students — for future economic and cultural uncertainties.
When the Breakthrough Plan 2024, the new phase of Peabody’s strategic plan, was unveiled last spring, the Conservatory was grappling with the frightening unknowns of the coronavirus pandemic. In-person classes were canceled, as were rehearsals and performances, with no timetable for resuming a normal schedule.
might say, however, that the institution had been preparing for such a predicament: Campus leaders have been working since 2015 to help student musicians imagine careers that now require professional skills beyond those needed for the stage and the classroom. And during the last academic year, roughly 90 faculty, staff, students, volunteers, and advisory board members participated in refining the plan to position the institute well for future economic and cultural uncertainties. Building on Peabody’s mission to provide excellent artistic training, the Breakthrough Plan 2024 envisions equipping technology-savvy graduates to become agents for change not only in the performing arts worlds of music and dance but also in such nontraditional fields as health care. “This time presents interesting challenges, but it can also offer us an opportunity to emerge stronger than ever,” says Fred Bronstein, dean of the Peabody Institute. Over the past five years, the institution has increased the percentage of both underrepresented minority students and faculty to 14%; created the Center for Music and Medicine; established the Breakthrough Curriculum to teach students how to communicate and market their skills; grown the double degree program with the university; fostered nontraditional collaborations with community groups in Baltimore and elsewhere; expanded jazz studies; and introduced programs for dance and for Music for New Media.
This next phase calls for expanding existing programming; recruiting more faculty of color; doubling the funding for the Peabody Institute Diversity Fund; expanding the mission of the Peabody Preparatory by increasing noncredit, online, and lifelong learning instruction; and beginning a series of long-needed building renovations. Bronstein says the recent expansion in programs and faculty has given new urgency to re-imagining and updating the institution’s facilities as well as its student residences. “There’s a growing chasm between what programmatically Peabody is doing and the ability of the facility to deliver that,” he says. “It’s partly a function of the available space and of the great, and challenging, aspects of having an historic campus. “When you walk into Peabody, it’s not like walking into any other school. We don’t want to lose that sense of history and tradition or our exceptional performances spaces. But we also want to have state-ofthe-art spaces. We’ve already started that with the investments in technology in classrooms, and we’re moving forward on working with a consultant on the initial phase of campus master planning.” He says one goal is to create “a central social gathering point for everybody.” Another is to renovate residence halls built more than 40 years ago to accommodate the needs of today’s students. Learn more about the Breakthrough Plan 2024: peabody.jhu.edu/breakthrough-plan PEABODY
“We need to change the face of the performing arts …” — Fred Bronstein Dean, Peabody Institute
Sean Jones, the Richard and Elizabeth Case Chair in Jazz Studies, was among the faculty, staff, and students who helped shape the goals of the Breakthrough Plan 2024.
Breakthrough Plan 2024 calls for Peabody to solidify its role as a leader in the national movement to diversify the performing arts industry. “When you think about the changing demographics in this country over next 20 to 40 years, the only way to build future audiences is to build diversity through the performing base,” Bronstein says. “We need to change the face of the performing arts, and we are committed to leading this effort. We have seen positive growth and we’ll double down on it.” Jazz trumpeter Sean Jones, the Richard and Elizabeth Case Chair in Jazz Studies, is optimistic about achieving such goals. “I am a big policy person,” he says. “I believe that statements are one thing, but when you address policies and you look at the budgets, that’s where you show where your priorities are. The Conservatory has already diversified their programming in allotting certain resources to revamp the jazz program and to build the Dance Department. I think that it’s important that we continue along this path.” As a highly respected performer and teacher, Jones says the COVID crisis has underscored the need for another area of the strategic plan: preparing every professional musician to learn how to use remote and virtual performance platforms. “It’s challenging for those who have lived in the acoustic performance world almost solely,” he says. “But there are also folks, including myself, who are finding ‘Wow, there are certain recording vehicles that I should have been using a long time ago.’”
A NATURAL EVOLUTION Bronstein says the strategic plan has grown out of identifying core strengths of the university as well as the institute, and then deciding how to develop them further. “The new media program we started is built out of composition, a program that is extremely strong historically, and the recording arts program, which cast it in a new direction,” he says. “Similarly, we had had a great long-standing program of dance in the Preparatory, but not in the Conservatory.” Collaborating with the School of Medicine continues to present opportunities for nontraditional community engagement. “In true Hopkins style, the Center for Music and Medicine is actually a series of projects,” the dean says. “We quickly realized we needed to develop projects that go across the university and across our campus. Now we are watching this footprint expand.” He mentions the injury prevention clinic, the hospital’s Sound Rounds program, and interdisciplinary opportunities to study the impact of singing on dementia and to determine what creative brain activity happens with musical improvisation. 26
DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION
LEFT: Professor Thomas Dolby teaching film scoring in the Music for New Media program. ABOVE: A student brings music to hospital patients in the Sound Rounds program.
“For better or worse, health care is going to be “I’m understanding more and more about how a growing industry and how the performing arts music and art affects people,” Lyerly says. “When I’m intersect with that is an important component of onstage playing in a concert setting, I think of it as Breakthrough 2024.” showing off the music. In the Sound Rounds setting, Bronstein points out, that 30 years ago, a main I’m focusing on the patient and using the music to source of revenue for the Philadelphia Orchestra was facilitate something for them.” classical music recording. “That source of income The guitarist remembers performing classical/jazz doesn’t exist anymore. This is not to say you can’t still fusion selections for his first patient, a man who had get an orchestra job, but your ability to be successful recently received a kidney transplant. “He was asleep in the culture of an orchestra is no longer just about by the second piece I played,” he says. “In a concert how well you play your instrument. It’s also about how setting, that may not be the desired response, but I well you interact with the community, how you inter- realized that he hadn’t had a good chance to rest in sect with donors, how you can talk to the media. Can months. So, in that moment, I helped him, or rather you go into a chemotherapy center and provide music the music helped him, to get the rest he needed.” for meaningful and interactive experiences there?” Keeping in touch with musicians who take advanJacob Lyerly (MM ’20, Guitar, Pedagogy) thinks tage of such life-changing opportunities is another his Peabody education has enabled him to do all goal of the strategic plan. of the above. “Doing a longitudinal study as students move into “I’ve been able to get my feet wet in a lot of differ- their careers over the next several decades will allow ent disciplines and ways of thinking regarding actu- us to see the efficacy of the plan,” Bronstein says. ally using my skills as a guitarist and musician and “It will allow us to become deeply engaged not only in teaching,” he says. “And arts administration has with the institute, but with our alumni — and the helped me become a great marketer for my own skills outside world.” and business.” While he received his degree in classical guitar performance and pedagogy, Lyerly set out to “rein- Award-winning journalist Linell Smith is a senior editor vent what it means to be a classical ensemble” by for Johns Hopkins Medicine. A former staff writer for forming a duo with Peabody guitarist Greg Hays The Baltimore Sun, she has written for the Washington Post Magazine and Sports Illustrated. She also taught (MM ’20, Guitar) to play in such alternative spots as journalism at Goucher College for many years. punk rock bars. His musical quest to “bring beauty and healing into the world” has also taken him to patients’ bedsides as part of Sound Rounds, a Music and Medicine program that is now livestreamed Watch Jacob Lyerly’s Sound Rounds video performance: because of visitor restrictions. youtu.be/xS9n5FyKS7s PEABODY
Last winter, Johns Hopkins University launched the powerful and much anticipated platform OneHop Mentoring to make it easy for students to connect with alumni as potential mentors. And Peabody is fully on board. Peabody students are already participating in the universitywide flash mentoring program, in which they have immediate access to alumni who have created online profiles and are making themselves available for one-on-one conversations to answer specific career-related questions. And Peabody’s LAUNCHPad career team is unveiling a more formal mentorship program through OneHop Mentoring this fall. The new program matches third-year undergraduate and first-year graduate students with recent alumni in a relationship designed to last at least as long as the academic year — and perhaps a lifetime. “The idea is that recent alumni will really be able to identify with current students, having just gone through school and graduation themselves,” says LAUNCHPad Assistant Director Christina Manceor (MM ’17, Percussion). “And the alumni seem really excited about giving back to their fellow students and becoming part of a supportive community with the potential to benefit everyone involved.” The LAUNCHPad staff expects to match as many as 170 mentor/ mentee pairs, a project that would have been overwhelming before OneHop Mentoring. “OneHop Mentoring allows us to match students and mentors based on any number of factors, including their areas of study, personal interests and history, and even things like whether they speak a certain language fluently,” says Manceor. “We can use all of the factors students and alums include in their profiles to help connect students with mentors who might share and identify with
Inspiring Community Connections
their experiences in really special ways, something we did not have the ability to do before.” There are also plans to try to integrate the mentorship program into the foundational courses LAUNCHPad coordinates as part of Peabody’s Breakthrough Curriculum to prepare music students for 21st-century careers. Students might interview or brainstorm project ideas with their mentors, for instance. “The great thing about OneHop Mentoring is that it makes things so easy,” Manceor says. Students and alumni simply visit the Peabody Mentoring Program page, read the instructions, and click
on “Join Program” to get started. And students and alums can sign up for the flash mentoring program at onehop.jhu.edu/hub/mentoring. “Students are often so caught up in all that they have to do, they don’t have time to think about where they are going,” Manceor says. “Ideally, these connections will inspire new ideas, career possibilities that hadn’t even occurred to them, and greater confidence, not least because when they graduate they will already have a professional network and won’t feel entirely on their own.” — Joan Katherine Cramer
Christina Manceor discusses her work at Peabody and LAUNCHPad: bit.ly/3mhBcDd
True to Her Craft | Alumni Profile Most legends have a great back story. Johns Hopkins Alumni Association Distinguished Alumna Award recipient Nelita True (DMA ’76, Piano), the world-renowned pianist and teacher and professor emerita of piano at the Eastman School of Music, is no different. At age 7, True trudged alone through deep snowdrifts for early morning piano lessons in Bozeman, Montana. When she was 17, she made her debut with the Chicago Symphony. After earning a BA and MA, Phi Beta Kappa, at the University of Michigan, she was awarded a threeyear fellowship to study at Juilliard. It was in New York, while sitting in the cheap seats at Carnegie Hall, that she first heard Leon Fleisher play. A few weeks later, True attended another Fleisher concert and had a life-changing experience. In a 2010 interview with Clavier Companion, she recalls that she “had never heard playing like that … it wasn’t just the captivating spontaneity of his playing, but also the profound intellect backing it up.” When it came time to decide where to pursue her doctorate, True told her brother, who was also a musician, that she would only seek a degree if Fleisher was teaching it. After a private audition with Fleisher at the Peabody Conservatory, she was accepted on the spot — which she deferred for a year so she could accept a Fulbright grant to study in Paris with the legendary Nadia Boulanger. (Back-story footnote: Preparatory alumnus Philip Glass was in her Fulbright class; André Watts (AD ’72, Piano), her classmate at Peabody.) Throughout her remarkable career, True thrilled audiences around the world with her performances, and she made more than 100 recordings. She won numerous awards, including the Certificate of Merit by the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan, the Eisenhart Award for
Excellence in Teaching at Eastman, the 2002 Achievement Award from the Music Teachers National Association, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from National Keyboard Pedagogy Conference (USA). In addition to her renown as a performer, True is a legendary teacher. At the Eastman School of Music, where her colleagues included her late husband, the international concert pianist Fernando Laires, her students won an unprecedented five first prizes in national MTNA
competitions. Now retired, True also was a distinguished professor at the University of Maryland, visiting professor at the St. Petersburg Conservatory in Russia, and performed and conducted 20-plus recitals and master classes in China. What her former students value most is her unique combination of talent, pedagogy, humor, and humanity — the same qualities she values in the legends who shaped her career. — Sarah Achenbach
Composer and Grammy nominee Jake Runestad (MM ’11, Composition; MM ’12, Music Theory Pedagogy) doesn’t shy away from tough issues in his choral and orchestral compositions. One of today’s most celebrated composers, Runestad tackles subjects like suicide, post-traumatic stress disorder, and climate change. “Music has the power to change people, and one of the things I love about vocal music is that it uses text to deepen the experience for the musicians and the audience,” he says. The Minneapolis-based artist lives just blocks from where the protests following George Floyd’s death took place. In the wake of the country’s racial reckoning, he says, “Themes of racial equity will continue to make their way into my works. I will work harder to listen to and amplify voices that have been suppressed, and I will continue to learn how and why these issues still cut so deeply into the fabric of our country.” Dubbed a “choral rock star” by American Public Media, 34-year-old Runestad has had his works performed for President Barack Obama and the Pope, and he’s received numerous awards, commissions, and performances worldwide, including the prestigious Raymond W. Brock Commission by the American Choral Directors Association. The composer’s musical interests are wide-ranging (he loves Billy Joel and grew up on Disney songs), and he says, “If we disregard different kinds of music because they don’t fit some mold, we’re missing out on so much beauty in the world.” As a youngster in Rockford, Illinois, Runestad played the piano and saxophone and planned to be a high school band director. At Winona State University, he joined a choir for the first time and discovered a new love: choral composition. When renowned composer Libby Larsen, a Minnesota native who was then a Peabody Distinguished Visiting Artist, heard his compositions, she invited him to study with her and suggested 30
The Power to Change People | Alumni Profile
he pursue graduate studies in compo- empathize with the hearing impaired. sition at Peabody. “At the end of [my] piece, there’s a “Peabody opened my ears to many slowly fading repeat, but the choir new sounds and possibilities,” recalls keeps moving their mouths and the Runestad, recipient of the 2020 conductor keeps gesturing,” he says. Outstanding Recent Graduate Award “The performance experience is so given by the Johns Hopkins Alumni much more than just sound,” says Association. He cites Ray Sprenkle’s Runestad, who recently completed class on Beethoven symphonies as his third opera. “It’s an opportunity particularly formative. “[In the class] to foster compassion, to tell commuwe experienced Beethoven’s life and nal human stories, and to present a creation in a profound way,” he says. difficult topic that might challenge So profound that for Runestad’s A someone’s perception of the world or Silence Haunts Me, his 2019 Brock their own life.” Commission, he mined Beethoven’s — Sarah Achenbach Heiligenstadt Testament letter in which the composer first confesses his Watch a performance of Jake deafness to his brothers. Runestad’s Runestad’s A Silence Haunts Me: goal: to help audiences better youtu.be/nFluVe3mNJ4
DEPARTMENT NEWS Peabody student, faculty, and alumni news all in one place, sorted by department to make it easier for you to find your colleagues and classmates. BRASS See Peter Folliard in Conducting In the spring and summer, Sahffi Lynne (BM ’93, French Horn) presented online medicine music concerts called “Hearts Connected from Home” with short Medicine Music Meditations followed by a song circle share. Justin Nurin (GPD ’10, Trumpet) has been the custodian of the Instrument of Hope, a handcrafted trumpet made of bullet casings, which is aimed at “keeping the gun violence conversation on the main stage.” He has performed on it for several concerts, including one at Carnegie Hall. Preparatory faculty artist Daniel Trahey (BM ’00, Tuba, Music Education) has received a two-year fellowship from the Jubilation Foundation. Trahey created the Collective Conservatory during the COVID-19 global pandemic to facilitate access to music and music education. Faculty artist Larry Williams (BM ’88, GPD ’90, French Horn) performed as a member of the Yamaha All-Star Big Band with Boston Brass at the Midwest Clinic in Chicago in December.
C O MPO SITION Nicholas Bentz (BM ’17, Composition, Violin; MM ’18, Violin) was selected as the first prize winner of Tribeca New Music’s Young Composer Competition in Division I (ages 22–35) for his piece Glimpse, for clarinet, violin, cello, and piano. He was also awarded the American Prize in Composition for orchestral music, student division, for his piece A Cosmos in Stone, Respawning, commissioned by the Charleston Symphony. On February 20, the New York premiere of Pale Icons of Night, by Chair of the Composition Department Oscar Bettison, was performed by Alarm Will Sound, with faculty artist Courtney Orlando, violin. Bettison’s Livre des Sauvages was also performed. Sunset at Noon, a composition by Sergio Cervetti (BM ’67, Composition), was performed by the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra on May 13. Two songs from Cervetti’s Elegy For A Prince were performed February 16 by The Distinguished Concerts Orchestra and Singers at Carnegie Hall. California Symphony announced Viet Cuong (BM ’11, MM ’12, Composition) as its new Young American Composer-inResidence from 2020 to 2023.
Doctoral composition student Richard Drehoff Jr. (MM ’18, Composition, Music Theory Pedagogy) was commissioned by the Dina Koston and Roger Shapiro Fund for New Music in the Library of Congress as part of The Boccaccio Project: A Series of Musical Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic. His piece for oboe alone, shadow of a difference / falling, was written for Andrew Nogal of the Grossman Ensemble. Composition professor Du Yun’s Sweet Land, a multiperspectival opera that explores the myths of American identity, was presented by The Industry in the Los Angeles State Historic Park in March and then was available to be viewed online. Ellen Fishman (DMA ’95, Composition) had her composition Ruptures premiered by pianist Marilyn Nonken at New York University on February 23 as part of the Composers Now festival. See Alexandra Gardner in Percussion Zach Gulaboff Davis (MM ’19, Music Theory Pedagogy; DMA ’19, Composition), who was a student of Kevin Puts and Michael Hersch, has been awarded the Beyer Composition Award in Chamber Music from the National Federation of Music Clubs for his first string quartet, On the Trajectory of Light. A film of the 2015 production at Peabody of On the Threshold of Winter by Composition Professor Michael Hersch (BM ’95, MM ’97, Composition) featuring Associate Professor of Voice Ah Young Hong (BM ’98, MM ’01, Voice) is available in its entirety online. Hersch also premiered the script of storms, featuring Hong, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra on February 14 in London.
C O N DUC TIN G Director of Graduate Conducting Marin Alsop was hired as the first chief conductor and curator of the Ravinia Festival, the summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, for a two-year appointment. She and André Watts (AD ’72, Piano) were elected as new members of American Philosophical Society, the oldest learned society in the United States. Peter Folliard (MM ’09, Conducting, Euphonium) has been appointed the inaugural dean for the Augustana University School of Music in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. American conductor Norman Huynh (MM ’13, Conducting) has been appointed the new music director of the Bozeman Symphony in Bozeman, Montana. He’s been serving as the associate music director of the Oregon Symphony. Conducting master’s student Leonard Weiss was asked to write a guest column for Australia’s Limelight Magazine, its foremost arts media company. The piece is titled “A Year with Marin Alsop.”
EN SEM B L E S NEW FACULTY
See also Michael Hersch in Vocal Studies Chesley Kahmann (’58, Composition) released her 17th album Love of Life, which features 11 of her original songs sung by The Interludes. Jason Mulligan (MM ’16, Composition) was recently awarded the 2020 Charles Ives Scholarship by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Matthew J. Pellegrino, a DMA composition student of Oscar Bettison, won third place in the Asia-America New Music Institute competition for his composition Anywhere Arirang. Sun-Young “Sunny” Park (DMA ’19, Composition) is the director of the South Korean section of the AsiaAmerica New Music Institute.
BETH WILLER, director of choral studies, is founder and artistic director of Boston’s Lorelei Ensemble, which seeks to elevate and expand the repertoire for women’s voices. Willer served as director of choral activities at Bucknell University, where she led the University Choir and Camerata and taught courses in conducting, chamber music, arts entrepreneurship, and choral music education.
In April, Jake Runestad (MM ’11, Composition; MM ’12, Music Theory Pedagogy) released a new piece called Elegy — music about loss. Runestad released a video of its performance with conductor John Byun and the Riverside City College Chamber Singers from early March. PEABODY
COVID Responses Making Connections During COVID-19
G UITA R
LISA MARIE MAZZUCCO
Acclaimed cellist Zuill Bailey (BM ’94, Cello) typically spends 315 days a year on the road — performing concerts around the world and running music festivals in Spokane, Washington, and Sitka, Alaska. So the abrupt cancellation of his frenetic teaching and performance schedule, which sent him home in mid-March to El Paso, Texas, where he serves on the faculty of University of Texas at El Paso, hit him hard. “The first three to four weeks, I basically went into hiding. Because I run talking to me, and looking at each other. so strong as a public person I needed It made me realize how deeply personal that time for myself, to reflect perthis kind of [concertizing] can be.” sonally and connect with my family. I The approach was also taken up by didn’t practice a lot. I didn’t want any his students at University of Texas at music at all. I mostly sat in silence at El Paso, where he heads the entrehome. It felt like a cleanse.” He continpreneurship program, and where he ues, “Then I started asking myself a lot has tirelessly encouraged students to of questions, the whats and the whys. “break the mold” and ask themselves Why is music so important? Who are why they have dedicated themselves to we doing it for? Why is the need for the arts — solely to serve themselves culture and the arts in our community or to serve others? “It turns out that so important? we had unknowingly prepared them for “When I began playing my cello again, this new chapter brought on by COVIDI played the slowest, most beauti19,” says Bailey. “They began contactful, and most basic pieces of music, ing community hospitals to provide because I could — I had no concerts or performances online. I felt such a sense recitals to work toward.” of pride. We’re really creating servants Around this time, the El Paso to humanity — ambassadors of music Independent School District reached out — through our programs.” to him through El Paso Pro-Musica, a In the summer, a time when musiprogram that brings chamber music to cians at the festivals he directs in schools throughout the region, which Spokane and Sitka typically host he has directed for 19 years. Would dozens of live concerts, Bailey says Bailey be willing to perform in an online that he was thrilled that the music presentation to every student in the would go on, albeit virtually. “Our district, potentially some 10,000 in all? artists gave personalized private preHe jumped at the chance — provided he sentations, live, for our patrons. They could connect by seeing student partici- looked on the screen and talked with pants on his computer screen. them,” he says. “It was a supremely positive experi“As a performer, I’ve always been ence,” he says. “In one hour, I reached looking for ways to break down that more people than I could possibly reach invisible barrier between the footlights in any given season, in any given locaand our audiences, and that’s what I’m tion. It made me realize that our comlooking for in this new reality,” says munity here is so accustomed to having Bailey. “The days of the disconnected consistency in the arts. As we were all concert are gone. There may be a separated, we needed to feel together screen creating a physical distance again.” And the online format allowed between us, but that doesn’t mean we a level of connection he hadn’t quite have to have an emotional distance.” expected. “I could see young people — Sue De Pasquale 32
Andrea González Caballero (GPD ’20, Guitar) collaborated remotely to create a new work with composer Dustin Carlson, Picture Wandering Ground, as part of a project by the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music. The project raised money for performers who have lost employment because of COVID-19. See Nathan Cornelius in Music Theory Director of Peabody’s LAUNCHPad Zane Forshee (MM ’01, GPD ’03, DMA ’11, Guitar) released a new recording that focuses on the works of Vicente Asencio and several other Valencian composers titled Valenciano. See also Zane Forshee in Percussion Assistant Professor Serap Bastepe-Gray (BM ’96, MM ’99, Guitar) and Chair of the Guitar Department Julian Gray (BM ’79, MM ’82, Guitar) were published in the Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy. Their study aimed to investigate brain activation differences during the different ways musicians mentally practice previously learned repertoire. LeeLee Hunter (BM ’11, MM ’13, Guitar) had a paper titled “Spirituals and Identity in the Harlem Renaissance and the Civil Rights Movement” accepted at the 18th Annual Society for Musicology in Ireland Plenary Conference. Hunter is slated to present this paper as a lecture recital in collaboration with soprano Chelsea Buyalos (BM ’11, MM ’12, Voice) at the University College Dublin, School of Music, in October. Finbarr Malafronte (BM ’08, MM ’09, Guitar), who studied with Manuel Barrueco, released a new album with the label Quartz. Maestros of the Baroque is entirely composed of Malafronte’s arrangements of music by Jean-Philippe Rameau and Domenico Scarlatti. See Zoe Johnstone Stewart in Preparatory See Meng Su in Percussion
H A RP Anastasia Pike (MM ’07, Harp), a former student of Jeanne Chalifoux, gave a solo recital sponsored by Columbia University, performed a concert with violinist Itzhak Perlman, and gave the U.S. premieres of Johan de Meij’s transcriptions of his Sinfonietta and Symphony No. 1.
LI B E R AL A RTS Faculty member Jelena Runić, liberal arts, published “Strong Pronouns in Slavic and Japanese” in the book Current Developments in Slavic Linguistics: 20 Years After. On June 22, she gave a video guest lecture at the University of Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina, titled “Surviving the Research World: Strategies for Journal Article Abstract Writing.”
MUS I C EDUCATIO N
JUNE HAN, assistant professor of harp, is a proponent of chamber and contemporary music, and has performed with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Alarm Will Sound, and many other groups. As an orchestral musician, she’s performed with the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, and the Metropolitan Opera. The daughter of renowned composer Young Ja Lee, Han is an advocate of music by living composers and has given numerous world premieres.
Michael Blackman (MM ’05, Music Education), band director for River Hill High School in Clarksville, Maryland, was selected to represent the state in School Band and Orchestra magazine’s “50 Directors Who Make a Difference in the United States.”
JA ZZ Sean Jones, the Richard and Elizabeth Case Chair in Jazz Studies, faculty artist Wendel Patrick, and Brinae Ali performed in Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Jazz from Home on April 26. Jones also taught in the JTole Summer Jazz Workshop in July. Jazz faculty Sean Jones, Kris Funn, Quincy Phillips, and alumnus Mark G. Meadows (BM ’11, GPD ’13, Jazz Piano; KSAS BA ’11, Psychology) were featured on the NPR show Jazz Night in America in a segment about the resurgence of jazz in the area, “Baltimore Rebirth: A New Bloom of Jazz in Charm City.” See Russell Kirk in Percussion See Randi Withani Roberts in Vocal Studies
M USIC TH EO RY NEW FACULTY
See Tyrone Page Jr. in Vocal Studies See Daniel Trahey in Brass
MUS I C TEC H N O LO GY NEW FACULTY
Peabody faculty Risa Browder, John Moran, and Margaret Owens, and several alumni were featured in a collaborative performance of Bach’s Messe in H-moll, BWV 232, by the Washington Bach Consort in May.
Niccolo Seligmann (BM ’15, Viola da Gamba) released his debut album of solo viola da gamba improvisations, Kinship, on February 26 at his Strathmore Artist-inResidence concert.
Ashna Pathan, a junior in the Music for New Media program, organized, engineered, and edited a video featuring 73 musicians (including 11 Johns Hopkins students) from all over the world performing Verdi’s Overture to La Forza del Destino. She was also a finalist in the Television Academy (Emmy Awards) internship program.
See Sean Meyers in Woodwinds
H ISTOR ICAL PER FORMA NCE
Cellist Wade Davis (MM ’11, GPD ’13, Baroque Violoncello) performed Camille Saint-Saëns’s Le Cygne (The Swan) in a video featuring 32 premier ballerinas from 22 dance companies in 14 countries in support of Swans for Relief.
Alternative Music Awards from WTMD, a public radio station at Towson University in Towson, Maryland.
CHRIS KENNEDY, assistant professor of music for new media, is the senior composer at Noise Distillery/Clean Cuts Music in Baltimore. An Emmy-nominated composer for film and TV, he has scored music for NBC, PBS, Smithsonian, Discovery, and National Geographic. Additionally, he helped launch a game audio department at Clean Cuts where his music has been featured on games such as the Drawn trilogy. Matthew Burtner (MM ’97, Electronic/ Computer Music) has been elected to the 2020 class of the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars, which honors former Hopkins affiliates who have achieved marked distinction in their fields. He is the Eleanor Shea Chaired Professor of Music in Composition and Computer Technologies at the University of Virginia where he co-directs the Coastal Futures Conservatory. Professor Thomas Dolby, Music for New Media, was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in the 2020 Baltimore
JESSICA HUNT (she/her/hers), assistant professor, has been commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, and the Gaudete Brass Quintet among others. Hunt’s music has been performed in concert by esteemed ensembles and performers such as the Chiara Quartet, CCM Chorale, Axiom Brass, and the Calidore Quartet. She champions the works of underrepresented composers through creative analysis and curricular development. Assistant Professor Jenine Brown and Nathan Cornelius (DMA ’18, Guitar) published an article on “Hearing Tetrachords in an Atonal Context” in the Journal of New Music Research. Brown also had an article titled “Improving Sight-Singing Skills using the New SmartMusic Website” published by the College Music Symposium. See Richard Drehoff Jr. in Composition See Zach Gulaboff Davis in Composition On July 21, Director of Academic Technology and Instructional Design Joseph Montcalmo, Instructional Technologist Martine Richards, and Music Theory Professor and Online Course Coordinator Stephen Stone presented “Graduate-Level Prerequisite Testing and Remedial Education in the Age of COVID19” at Blackboard World 2020. The Fix, an opera by Chair and Associate Professor of Music Theory Joel Puckett, was included in the Minnesota Opera’s digital summer series, which streamed online. PEABODY
See Jake Runestad in Composition Music Theory Professor Kip Wile has been elected president and Assistant Professor Jenine Brown has been elected secretary of the Music Theory Society of the Mid-Atlantic.
ORG AN Doctoral candidate Jordan Prescott (MM ’19, Organ) presented a workshop as part of AGO’s PipeTalks, which was a virtual national convention. Prescott’s talk was called “Foresight Is 20/20: Preparing for Graduate School Applications.”
P E RCUS SIO N
Pianist AGUSTIN MURIAGO, assistant professor of keyboard skills, has performed throughout the United States, Spain, China, Brazil, and in his native Argentina. His repertoire ranges from standard piano works to contemporary music premieres, with an emphasis on Spanish and Argentine music. He has played at Steinway Hall in New York City, the Teatro Ópera in Buenos Aires, and the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing. NEW FACULTY
Preparatory faculty artist Adam Rosenblatt (BM ’10, Percussion; KSAS BS ’10, Molecular/Cellular Biology) and Meng Su (PC ’09, GPD ’11, MM ’16, AD ’18, Guitar; GPD ’15, Chamber Ensemble) were two of the top recipients of the Maryland State Arts Council’s $10,000 Independence Artist Award. Director of LAUNCHPad and guitar faculty artist Zane Forshee (MM ’01, GPD ’03, DMA ’11, Guitar), Alexandra Gardner (MM ’97, Composition), and Russell Kirk (BM ’05, Jazz Saxophone) are among the recipients of the $2,000 award. Sandbox Percussion — Victor Caccese (BM ’11, Percussion), Terry Sweeney (BM ’13, Percussion), Ian Rosenbaum (BM ’08, Percussion), and Jonathan Allen — produced a weekly series of livestreams from their respective homes. They also released their debut album And That One Too. Visiting Lecturer Ji Su Jung (BM ’16, GPD ’17, Percussion) performed Composition Professor Kevin Puts’ Marimba Concerto on February 28 with the Yale Philharmonica.
P I ANO NEW FACULTY
Brian Ganz (AD ’93, Piano) performed on May 26 as part of the 17th Alba Music Festival in Italy. Washington Garcia’s (MM ’98, DMA ’03, Piano) solo performance from November 2001 with the Peabody Symphony Orchestra led by Hajime Teri Murai, was aired in July on KVNO 90.7, the classical radio station in Omaha, Nebraska. The Omaha Performing Arts also streamed an all-Chopin recital by Garcia on July 1. Yuliya Gorenman (DMA ’95, Piano) performed the complete Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, Books 1 and 2, at the Dani Bacha u Splitu festival dedicated to Bach’s music in Split, Croatia, in March 2019. Professor Seth Knopp serves as artistic director at Yellow Barn, a Vermont summer festival, where Associate Professor of Voice Tony Arnold, soprano, performed György Kurtág’s Kafka Fragments, and Arnold and Knopp performed together in the season finale. HOCKET, a cutting-edge piano duo based in Los Angeles with Sarah Gibson and Thomas Kotcheff (BM ’10, Piano), has commissioned 50 composers to join them in their new project, #What2020SoundsLike. Mark Markham (BM ’84, MM ’86, DMA ’91, Piano) paid tribute to his longtime recital partner Jessye Norman by performing during her four-hour-long funeral service on October 12 playing his arrangement of “Deep River.” In November he performed it on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. William Phemister (MM ’70, DMA ’73, Piano) gave concerts and workshops in Senegal in February. Alfred Music published his collection of 10 piano hymn arrangements in an album called Holy, Holy, Holy, and Rowman & Littlefield published his American Piano Concerto Compendium. Melody Quah (DMA ’17, Piano) joined the Penn State School of Music as assistant professor of music. She teaches graduate and undergraduate piano students, including piano literature courses.
COURTNEY ORLANDO, who has been artistic director of Peabody’s contemporary music ensemble Now Hear This since 2015, has been appointed assistant professor for ear training in music theory. Orlando specializes in the performance of contemporary and crossover music. She is a founding member of Alarm Will Sound, which has premiered works by and collaborated with some of the foremost composers of our time.
An acclaimed pianist, recording artist, professor, and collaborator, STEVEN SPOONER is passionately devoted to the solo recital as a platform for innovation. He is a top prize winner at both the Hilton Head and the Artlivre International Piano competitions. As an enthusiast for new music, he has an ongoing collaboration with composer Mohammed Fairouz. Spooner is co-founder and artistic director of the Chicago International Music Competition and Festival.
Roberta Rust (BM ’76, Piano) performed recitals and gave master classes at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University and Stephen F. Austin State University in January. In 2019, she performed recitals and gave master classes in Singapore, Manila, Iowa, Arizona, and Oregon. Directed by Daniel Schlosberg (BM ’00, MM ’01, Piano; KSAS BA ’00, History), Baltimore Lieder Weekend XI will be held October 16 to 18 and titled “‘The Price Is Right:’ Leontyne & Florence & Art Song.” Schlosberg also performs on a new recording, Rebellious: Music of Julius Eastman.
Concert pianist Daniel Vnukowski (BM ’03, Piano), who studied with Leon Fleisher, livestreamed performances in April and May, reaching over a million views on social media and over 500,000 video views. See André Watts in Conducting Doctoral candidate Xiaohui Yang, piano, made her Carnegie Hall debut on January 21. She premiered a work by Shulamit Ran titled Ballade and performed works by Beethoven, Fauré, Chopin, and Saint-Saëns.
P R E PA R ATORY Several Preparatory students placed at the Maryland/DC Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing Competition held in February. Elisabeth Stevens won third place in the Youth category. In the Lower High School Men Classical and Musical Theatre categories, Ari Paley won first place and Oliver Drachmann won second place. Laura Stannell won first in the Upper High School Women category. Timothy McCoy placed second in the Second Year College/ Independent Studio Men category. Ankush Bahl, who serves as the conductor of the Peabody Youth Orchestra, has been named music director of the Omaha Symphony, to start in August 2021. Preparatory student Miyabi Henriksen received first place at the Friday Morning Music Club High School Competition for Strings in Washington, D.C.; the Londontowne Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Competition; and the Columbia Orchestra Young Artist Competition in the Senior Division. Preparatory alumna Leia Sofía Méndez, who was a composition student of Judah Adashi, composed a musical tribute to the Hubble Space Telescope, which was played at a National Science Teaching Association seminar on April 29. The CD, Speak, Be Silent, by Riot Ensemble with Preparatory alumna Sarah Saviet, was listed by The New Yorker’s Alex Ross as one of the best classical CDs of 2019. Zoe Johnstone Stewart (MM ’05, Guitar) has been appointed the new chair of the Guitar Department at the Peabody Preparatory. The Peabody Community Chorus, directed by Kristen Toedtman (MM ’98, Voice), organized a virtual choir of We Shall Be Known by MaMuse.
'So Much to Do' After years of traveling between New York City and his home in Washington, D.C., jazz musician Mark G. Meadows (BM ’11, GPD ’13, Jazz Piano; KSAS BA ’11, Psychology) and his wife, Claire, took the leap and moved to Manhattan — in January. “We couldn’t have been more excited. We were New Yorkers!” says Meadows. Then COVID-19 hit with a vengeance. Meadows was in Colorado, working as music director for a six-week run of Choir Boy at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, when the show was abruptly shut down in March after just 10 days. Everyone was sent home. “My wife has family in Charlotte, North Carolina, so after a lot of discussion we made the tough decision to leave our new apartment in New York City and head south. I packed up my keyboard and my computer, and we’ve been living with her family ever since,” said Meadows during a phone interview in mid-May. “It’s been great — there’s just so much to do,” he says. “I’ve been giving lessons online, I’ve written two different compositions in collaboration with other musicians that I hope to release soon, and I’ve been streaming my own concerts live, online, about every two weeks. “The first concert I was terrified, because I had never played live online before. But each one has gotten a little bit better as I learn more about the tech side of streaming. I have about 120 to 150 people tuning in live, and
ST RI NGS Claire Allen (MM ’13, Violin) received the 2019 Outstanding String Teacher Award from the Virginia Chapter of the American String Teachers Association. See Nicholas Bentz in Composition In May, Carter Brey (BM ’76, Cello), principal cellist with the New York Philharmonic, performed and was featured in a candid online conversation with the group’s President and CEO Deborah Borda about the orchestra during this pandemic.
Rosemary Tuck (MM ’86, Piano) wrote about Beethoven’s favorite pupil, Carl Czerny, for International Piano and Limelight magazines. She discovered Czerny’s manuscripts from the Gesellschaft Der Musikfreunde in Wien and is recording a series of albums featuring his music.
I’ve been averaging well over 1,000 views for each concert.” Meadows says he’s reaching a bigger audience online (“Typically when I do a show in person, if I have 100 people in the audience, I consider it a success”) and reaching faraway fans. “I grew up in Dallas, and people who have known me my entire life can now hear me play,” he says. While a loosening of stay-at-home orders throughout the summer opened the door for small outdoor concerts in many locales, which Meadows planned to pursue, he saw the stringent lockdown during the spring months as an opportunity — rather than a liability — for performers. “For the first time, probably since the Roaring ’20s, artists everywhere were on the same platform. Bruno Mars can’t do a live concert in person, just like I can’t. But we can both perform from our basements, using basically the same technology. There’s been a leveling of the playing field.” — Sue De Pasquale
David Chentian (Gu) (MM ’15, Cello/ Pedagogy; GPD ’16, Cello), recently released several new albums on major music platforms, Cello Spirit, Charming Cello, Magnificent Cello, and Melodious Cellotune. On March 19, Slawomir Grenda (BM ’92, MM ’93, Double Bass) performed as guest principal bass at the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, where Lorna Rough (GPD ’92, Violin) has been first violin since 2001.
Judith Ingolfsson, professor of violin, released a new CD, The Happiest Years: Sonatas for Violin Solo by Artur Schnabel and Eduard Erdmann. She also released the CD La Belle Époque: Works by Eugène Ysaÿe, Théodore Dubois and César Franck with pianist Vladimir Stoupel. Duo Ingolfsson-Stoupel were presenting the Homeland Concerts, online concerts twice a week. Charlene Kluegel (MM ’11, GPD ’12, Violin) has joined the editorial board of the American String Teacher Journal for a two-year tenure. Faculty artist Qing Li (PC ’91, BM ’92, Violin) performed a livestreamed-from-home concert for BSO OffStage on June 28. Cello Professor Amit Peled released a new recording of Franz Schubert’s String Trio in B-flat major and String Quintet in C major with the Aviv Quartet on the Naxos label. His pedagogical philosophy and cello emoji approach were featured in the scientific research journal The Senses and Society. Alaina Rea (GPD ’20, Viola) has won the assistant principal viola position of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra for the upcoming season. Ryo Usami (BM ’17, Violin), who studied with Violaine Melançon, won a position with “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Chamber Orchestra in Washington, D.C.
VO CAL ACC OMPAN YI NG Nathan Cicero (MM ’18, Vocal Accompanying) was a pianist for a Schubert Karaoke Brunch in January, as a member of The Lied Society in Minneapolis. He was also musical director for Skylark Opera’s production of Così fan tutte in March 2019. Celeste Johnson (MM ’14, Vocal Accompanying) performed in January as one of 10 collaborative pianists selected for Carnegie Hall’s International 2020 SongStudio workshop, led by the world-renowned soprano Renée Fleming. Johnson will be a resident artist with Minnesota Opera for its 2020–21 season. Johanna Kvam (MM ’16, Vocal Accompanying) has been promoted to be mainstage répétiteur for all major productions in her second season as Sanford Studio Artist Pianist with Kentucky Opera. Hyejin Kwon (MM ’11, Vocal Accompanying) gave a master class for piano majors at the Claude Watson School for the Arts in Ontario, where they have been studying the skills required to be a répétiteur. Peyson Moss (MM ’16, Vocal Accompanying) has joined the music faculty at Brevard College in North Carolina as a vocal departmental pianist and coach and continues to serve as the director of music and organist at the Brevard-Davidson River Presbyterian Church.
Mary Trotter (MM ’13, Vocal Accompanying) performed Schumann’s Dichterliebe with the Minneapolis-based vocal group Cantus in July 2019.
VO CA L STUDIE S Jason Berger (GPD ’18, Voice) was featured on the Today Show for a viral video of him singing while working at Starbucks. Berger joined OperaDelware as a Young Artist for its spring festival. See Chelsea Buyalos in Guitar Mind on Fire presented 11 short art performances in a Virtual Variety Show online on July 11 in collaboration with the Enoch Pratt Free Library. Taylor Hillary Boykins (MM ’14, Voice), Jennifer Hughson (MM ’12, Clarinet), Tyrone Page Jr. (BM ’16, MM ’18, Saxophone; BM ’16, Music Education), Stephanie Ray (MM ’12 Flute), and Randi Withani Roberts (’16, Jazz Voice) were featured. In February, Allison Clendaniel (BM ’12, Voice) appeared in the world premiere of a new opera, The First Thing That Happens, which opened a new performance space, The Voxel, in Baltimore. In March, tenor Peter Scott Drackley (’12, Voice) played the role of Justice Scalia in the opera Scalia/Ginsburg by Professional Studies faculty member and composer Derrick Wang with Opera Carolina at Queens University in Charlotte. Heartbeat Opera posted a video of its virtual choir, orchestra, dancers, and gardeners bringing to digital life Bernstein’s “Make Our Garden Grow” from Candide, featuring Taylor-Alexis Dupont (MM ’16, Voice) and Gleb Kanasevich (BM ’11, Clarinet) as audio engineer. Assistant Professor Carl DuPont, Brittani McNeill (GPD ’15, Voice), and Melissa Wimbish (GPD ’11, Voice; GPD ’14, Chamber Ensemble) performed a medley of spirituals, art songs, and traditional readings in an IN Series virtual concert commemorating Juneteenth. Claudia Friedlander (MM ’95, Clarinet, Voice) released her second book, The Singer’s Audition and Career Handbook, which was created as a comprehensive guide for launching and sustaining a rewarding career in classical singing. In January, Associate Professor Ah Young Hong (BM ’98, MM ’01, Voice), soprano, performed in György Kurtág’s Kafka Fragments at Seattle Symphony and at Philadelphia’s Network for New Music. She also gave the world premiere of Agatha by Composition Professor Michael Hersch (BM ’95, MM ’97, Composition) on February 21 at Camerata Bern in Switzerland. See also Ah Young Hong in Composition
Mofan Lai (BM ’20, Voice) has been named one of two recipients of the 2020 Johns Hopkins University President’s Commendation for Achievement in the Arts, a service award to honor a graduating senior who has contributed extensively to the arts by service to the Homewood and/or Baltimore communities. Benjamin Matis (BM ’94, Voice) edited the academic anthology Studies in Polish Jewry, Volume 32: Jews and Music-Making in the Polish Lands. The volume’s essays provide an original exploration of the activities and creativity of musicians of the Jewish faith. Outcalls — Britt Olsen-Ecker (BM ’09, Voice) and Melissa Wimbish (GPD ’11, Voice; GPD ’14, Chamber Ensemble) — had their single, “Mother,” featured on Canadian astrologist Chani Nicholas’ “Cosmic Playlist” series for Gemini. The band was also a finalist for the 2020 Baker Artist Awards. In March, Bel Cantanti premiered Frances Pollock’s (MM ’15, Voice) full-length opera Briscula the Magician. The production featured Jennifer Blades (MM ’97, GPD ’98, Voice) as stage director, John T. K. Scherch (MM ’17, Voice, Pedagogy), and Daniel Sampson (MM ’19, Voice) at the Randolph Road Theater in Silver Spring, Maryland. Pollock was also the composer-in-residence for last summer’s Chautauqua Opera. Elizabeth Sarian (BM ’17, GPD ’18, Voice) worked with the Atlanta Opera, recording singing telegrams for health care workers, hospital patients, and seniors. She was featured in a video and article on CNN for her work. On January 30, Associate Professor Randall Scarlata, baritone, performed a recital with pianist Gilbert Kalish at Capistrano Concert Hall as part of Sacramento State’s New Millennium Series. Scarlata and Kalish were nominated for a Grammy in 2019 for their Schubert recording. Caitlin Vincent (MM ’09, Voice) writes in The Conversation, a global network of newsrooms, that by moving artistic offerings online, companies have undervalued their own product, similar to the newspaper industry’s shift to online platforms.
WO O DW IN DS On July 19, faculty artist Brad Balliett, bassoon, and French horn player Laura Weiner performed solos and duets in an online concert that was part of ChamberFest Canandaigua’s summer music festival in Canandaigua, New York. See Claudia Friedlander in Vocal Studies See Jennifer Hughson in Vocal Studies See Gleb Kanasevich in Vocal Studies
FANFARE 2019–20 Philanthropic Impact Dutch conductor Robert Kahn (BM ’15, Clarinet; KSAS BS ’15, Physics) directed student musicians at the Curtis Institute of Music in a performance of America the Beautiful for a video dedicated to health care workers. Kahn was recently chosen as the 2019 Conducting Fellow at Curtis. Sean Meyers (BM ’16, Saxophone, Music Education) is a founding member of the award-winning Vanguard Reed Quintet, which released its debut album, Red Leaf Collection. The full-length album features six world-premiere recordings of compositions for reed quintet. See Tyrone Page Jr. in Vocal Studies On July 29, Flute Professor Marina Piccinini performed the world premiere of Siren Song for Solo Flute by Aaron Jay Kernis in the Seattle Chamber Music Society’s Virtual Summer Festival. More than 70 alumni and all current students from Piccinini’s flute studio collaborated to record a special arrangement of Elgar’s “Nimrod” from Enigma Variations, by junior flute student Hannah Tassler.
Peabody’s dedicated supporters, alumni, and friends gave more than $6m over the last year, enabling us to deliver a premier music and dance education to our students and the community. We renew our commitment to a Peabody experience through each of the five pillars. Thank you for helping Peabody continue to “break through” during this academic year.
IN MEMORIAM Eva F. Anderson (TC ’51, Piano; TC ’52, Theory; TC ’53, Cello; BM ’54, Piano; MM ’58, Cello) Ruth Fisher (TC ’53, Piano), former Peabody alumni association president
Distinguished Visiting Artists
Manuel Maramba (MM ’56, AD ’58, Piano; BM ’58, Composition)
37 States; 11 Countries
24 States; 19 Countries
Music and Medicine
Conservatory Students Taking Classes at Homewood and other JHU divisions
In response to the current public health crisis, Peabody redesigned their programs for virtual delivery
30 Dual-Degree Students
in applications from students of color since 2015
in Conservatory student racial diversity since 2015
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Taskforce
convened three times to make recommendations for long-term growth at Peabody
Increase in Conservatory faculty racial diversity since 2017
Increase in performances from African American guest artists since 2015
COMMUNITY CONNECTIVITY Baltimore Jazz Collective
Community Concerts 18 Baltimore Neighborhoods 84 Students and Alumni
Co-founded by Sean Jones, the Richard and Elizabeth Case Chair of Jazz Studies, to create more opportunities to perform and collaborate for regional artists and students
Founder’s Week Community Events 44 Hours of service
Christopher “Kris” McCormick (MM ’17, Composition)
ArtReach for online performances
Shirley F. Silver (TC ’40, Piano) Bradley Lee Smith (BM ’64, Music Education)
New Faculty Merit-based Master Classes Appointments Student Awards
Leon Fleisher, Andrew W. Mellon Chair in Piano Douglas Heist (MM ’76, DMA ’94, Piano), Preparatory faculty
Conservatory Incoming Class
See Stephanie Ray in Vocal Studies Juniors Siyuan Yin, In Soo Oh, and Gemma Baek won the first, second, and third prizes, respectively, in the Sidney Forrest Clarinet Competition (college division) hosted virtually by the University of Maryland School of Music. All three are students of Alexander Fiterstein.
2,360 Preparatory 667 Conservatory
2,688 Video Views of the Conservatory’s first-ever virtual graduation ceremony
Music Mode for Zoom instruction
Musicambia for social change in incarcerated communities
Breakthrough Plan 2024 10 workgroups composed of students, faculty, staff, and volunteers helped develop the Breakthrough Plan 2024 PEABODY
150 Hours setting up for online instruction and virtual programs
FANFARE A Young Life in Music In the 1940s, George Geyer III (’50, Voice) had recently graduated high school and was working at his family’s woodworking mill in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. He had been a singer for most of his life, first in church choirs from the age of 6 and then on a local radio show in his spare time while working at the mill. It was Geyer’s father, George Geyer Jr., an accomplished musician who played the clarinet with the Philadelphia Orchestra, who suggested he develop those skills by studying voice at the Peabody Conservatory. “He thought it would be a good idea if I got some more formal training,” says Geyer, adding that his father, who later lost his fingers on his right hand in an accident at the mill, switched to playing the cello because he could hold the bow in his injured hand and play with his left hand. Thinking back on his time at Peabody, Geyer, a voice student in the bass-baritone range, has fond memories of luncheons in his voice teacher Frank Bibb’s studios and of his recitals. In 1951, he left the Conservatory to search for a job in New York. At an audition at ABC, the manager of the department liked Geyer’s voice and sent him to Radio City Music Hall with a note for the director. “They had me come in and sing, and they hired me right on the spot,” Geyer says. This began Geyer’s early career in music. At Radio City, he performed four shows a day, seven days a week with a male chorus in conjunction with The Rockettes. A year later, he went to Paris to join a quartet that sang an opera and a Broadway medley in Plein Feu, a show by musical-comedy star Maurice Chevalier. In 1952, Geyer returned to New York and had a variety of gigs over the next year and a half, including performing in Guy Lombardo’s production of Arabian Nights with opera singer Lauritz Melchior at the Jones Beach Marine Theatre on Long Island, and in nightclubs in New York, New Jersey, Detroit, and Washington, D.C. That year, he twice won the NBC Radio 38
family competition show “Live Like a Millionaire,” performing with his two young daughters, ages 5 and 7. Prior to that, he won the baritone division of the Chicagoland Music Festival and was also the featured entertainer on the Île de France cruise ship and the headline attraction at the British Colonial Hotel in Nassau, Bahamas. All of these experiences led Geyer to his next job as a baritone soloist with the Fred Waring Band, a 52-person group led by conductor Fred Waring. With the band, he toured the country, performed in a live show Sunday nights on General Electric Theater on CBS, and recorded an album with Decca Records. He also performed in a Fred Waring production of Hear! Hear! at the Ziegfeld Theatre on Broadway. Then in 1956, Geyer changed course. He saw that the music industry was
shifting toward rock ’n’ roll, a musical style that didn’t interest him. Having worked in his family’s business, Geyer knew the lumber industry, so he moved to Southern California and started working with a company that built homes. In 1969, Geyer started his own company, Geyer Industries Inc., which he oversaw until his retirement in 1982. Today, at age 92, Geyer has donated two of his father’s cellos and his own grand piano to Peabody. Thinking about his musical career and how he got his start, he also has made a generous donation of $2 million to Peabody to support voice scholarships in his name. “I wanted to pay it forward somehow,” he says. “I thought this was the best way to do it.” — Jennifer Walker
Believing in the Power of Education Lynne Church has long known about the Peabody Conservatory because of her mother, Elizabeth Rountree Church (TC ’27, Piano), a pianist who graduated from the school with a three-year teaching certificate in 1927. As a child, Church took piano lessons herself, though eventually, she says, “even my mother had to admit I had no talent and no real interest.” Despite not initially taking to music, Church, who is now a second soprano with a senior rock chorus called Encore Creativity, still found a place at Peabody as an adult. She became an energy lawyer, including working as treasurer, chief auditor, and associate general counsel for Baltimore Gas and Electric Company from 1984 to 1995. During her time at BGE, Church served as the company’s representative on the Peabody Advisory Council, now called the Peabody Institute Advisory Board, for several years in the 1990s. She also knows Baltimore from her time at Goucher College, from which she graduated in 1966. Because of all of this — her mother’s connection to Peabody, her own involvement with the advisory council, and her fondness for Baltimore — Church, who lives in Washington, D.C., has become a dedicated donor to the Conservatory. Her giving began in 1993 when she established a scholarship fund, the Elizabeth Rountree Church Memorial Scholarship, in honor of her mother. Then recently, Church made a five-year gift to support Peabody students during emergencies so they can continue to focus on their musical studies. “I believe that we have too much economic disparity in this country,” she says. “And education is one of the ways to ameliorate that.” Church’s gift will be used to support students individually, as well as through LAUNCHPad, Peabody’s career development program. The first part, which Church calls the “Life Happens Fund,” supports students during extenuating situations
then get derailed economically through life’s emergencies,” says Church. “So the first part of the gift is to help them stay in school.” Then, through LAUNCHPad — an initiative that assists students with building career skills, preparing job applications, launching entrepreneurial ventures, and more — Church’s gift will be used to cover expenses such as competition and recital fees for students. These are experiences that are necessary for them to jumpstart their future careers. Says Church, who “hung up her high heels” in 2006 to become a landscape designer, “A lot of people have helped me over the years, and I am fortunate now to be in a position to help others. There’s no better way than supporting the next generation of exciting musicians.” — Jennifer Walker
that impact them financially. “It doesn’t make sense to have talented students enter the school through scholarships and other means, but
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STUDENT SPOTLIGHT A Lasting, Last-Minute Musical Connection Interview by Sarah Achenbach
How did the concert come about? When we got the email that school was closing, I started asking my friends, what if we played the concert? People said it was a crazy idea. I emailed our conductor, Maestro Joseph Young (AD ’09, Conducting), who immediately replied, “What time?” People were calling friends and telling them to come play in 30 minutes. The whole school came to help. We had people from every major put chairs up. We printed music, and students from the Recording Arts program — Justin Cheung, with David Sexton (BM ’19, Voice; BM ’20, Recording Arts), Tea Mottolese (BM ’20, Saxophone), Lara Villanueva, Jasmine Galante, Isaac Friedenberg, Henry Armfield, and Jenny Fan — recorded the concert. And Todd Oehler (BM ’20, Music Education, Trumpet) set up a live stream on Facebook and Instagram. Why was this such an important moment and concert for you and your fellow musicians? We’d been working on the piece for a long time. It’s such a wellknown piece. At our first rehearsal, we were all super-excited to play it.
What I love most about that concert was that it wasn’t just the musicians. People were waiting for something to bring them all together, and we just didn’t know if this was our final goodbye, or if this would be the last time we would see and play with our graduating peers. How are you and your fellow students connecting during the pandemic? Sometimes we open Zoom and practice at the same time or record ourselves playing with a click track and then a recording artist compiles them. I play [virtually] with my teacher, with him playing and me muted, and we post videos of ourselves playing, but it’s not really the same as playing live. We hang out on Zoom, play online games, and send letters, so in a way, I’m more connected with my classmates now than I normally am during the summer, but I’m very much deprived of playing with other people. My summer festival was canceled. What inspired you to pursue a double major — in political science at Homewood and French horn performance at Peabody? I love debating and arguing, and I love social policy. I enjoy going to Homewood and interacting with completely different people who don’t know the nitty-gritty of playing an instrument. You were elected president of the Peabody General Assembly in April. What are your plans in that role? After the concert, I started considering student government seriously because I felt like I was already having an influence on my peers: I am a Community Fellow in Peabody’s student affairs office and a resident assistant this fall, but being president allows me to have a wider impact. Right now, I am focused on creating a safe space at Peabody for people of
When Peabody unexpectedly announced on the afternoon of March 10 that it was sending students home due to the global COVID19 pandemic, Layan Atieh sprang into action. The move meant the cancellation of the next evening’s Peabody Symphony Orchestra performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5. But in a few hours, Atieh, who plays the French horn, led her fellow orchestra members in organizing a celebratory, bittersweet replacement concert: in the Peabody cafeteria at 10 pm. The impromptu performance, which drew a standing-room-only audience of students, faculty, and staff members, underscored just how powerful music can be.
In May, Atieh was awarded the 2020 Peabody Institute Community Connectivity Award for organizing the impromptu March 10 Peabody Symphony Orchestra performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5.
color. We’re thinking about creating a concert series that features non-Western works or making a commitment to showcase the works of people of color in more concerts. We’re also involved with welcoming first-year students, and I am working with the Homewood student government on cross-campus connections. What did you learn about the power of music to form connections through the concert? Sometimes it feels like classical music is becoming increasingly irrelevant. That concert reminded us that classical music, and the arts in general, are not marginal. If anything, they are more relevant than ever before. Part of an artist’s job is to ensure the well-being of the soul, to shape who we are and how we feel. I don’t really think about this every time I pick up my horn, but for the concert, a lot of us had this feeling. It was a moment of peace. Watch the concert: bit.ly/3hvR7uB
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