Peabody Magazine Spring 2020 Vol. 14, No. 2

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Spring 2020 Vol. 14 No. 2


e stell E e th ll in body o r n oe Pea s wh at the oup of r e c r n m . d da progra inded g is key e t n — m tale dance like- ructors the ’ a s r g y t o s o F in le i n find nis b Den ratory, and ma a Prep g men — n you

ble O: b S u L B A e s’ of th gres Pro Out n i ork W A ‘

ENDOWED CHAIRS. Attracting and retaining key professors.

World-renowned trumpeter Sean Jones — the Richard and Elizabeth Case Chair in Jazz Studies at the Peabody Conservatory — is leading a new curriculum to break down the walls between jazz and classical music and “really express what it means to be an American musician at the highest level.” There’s no question that the excellence that is Johns Hopkins rests on the quality of our faculty. And our ability to create endowed professorships depends on you, our generous donors. These professorships help us attract some of the greatest intellects and innovators to our institution and provide critical support for their work as teachers, scholars, researchers, clinicians, and artists. To learn more and to hear Jones play, visit

@HopkinsGiving | #JohnsHopkins | #GoHop

CONTENTS 3 Headliners


30 Years of Connecting Choristers Preparing to Launch The Art of the Perfect Pitch The End of an Era

By Christine Grillo Photography by Jim Burger

Alumni News

Boys to Men

For the talented dancers who enroll in the Estelle Dennis boys’ dance program at the Peabody Preparatory, finding a likeminded group of young men — and male instructors — is key.


We Need You Finding the Flow in Music Making

Department News


The latest news and accomplishments involving students, faculty, and alumni from the Preparatory and Conservatory.


34 Fanfare

By Joan Katherine Cramer

Out of the Bubble

From Baltimore to Nairobi, Peabody musicians are turning to music to effect change and bring people together.


The Path to Possibility Realizing a Dream

Student Spotlight Giving Students a Voice


‘A Work in Progress’

Interview by Sue De Pasquale In his five years as dean, Fred Bronstein has made improving diversity a top priority at Peabody. In a wide-ranging interview, he tells why that’s so crucial and talks candidly about the successes and challenges of ongoing diversity efforts across the institute.

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 photo, of dancer Setia Kurniawanto, by Jim Burger

FROM THE DEAN Peabody Friends,

Dean Fred Bronstein

Over the last five years, Peabody has enjoyed a strong trajectory of change and growth through the implementation of the Breakthrough Plan, touching virtually every aspect of the institution including enrollment, curriculum innovation and the launch of new programs, diversity, faculty governance and recruitment, community engagement, financial health and sustainability, and our role within Johns Hopkins University.  With the completion of a successful five-year divisional review last spring, this past fall we began a process of renewal and planning for the future that includes taking stock of the Breakthrough Plan to assess the ongoing fit of current initiatives in support of the five Pillars — Excellence, Interdisciplinary Experiences, Innovation, Community Connectivity, and Diversity — and to make refinements and revisions within the framework of the plan to position Peabody for the next five years. We have designed and deployed the review process very intentionally, to engage and seek the input of more than 90 faculty, staff, students, volunteers, and alumni to help shape the next incarnation of the Breakthrough Plan and, in turn, the continued evolution of Peabody. Over the months of the fall semester, 10 work groups — focused on areas as varied as facilities, the student experience, Preparatory programs, diversity and inclusion, and revenue development — met to

review where we stand and make recommendations for moving forward. Those recommendations are now being studied by the Steering Committee and will be incorporated in some form into a finalized Breakthrough Plan 2024. I look forward to sharing the new plan with you in the coming months. In the meantime, there is a great deal of exciting news and good work going on, as you will see in the pages of this issue of Peabody Magazine. In particular, I would call your attention to the recent announcement of a multiyear grant of $1 million from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support Peabody’s role in the inaugural BaltimoreWashington Musical Pathways collaborative, a joint effort with the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and several additional partners which seeks to diversify the American classical music field. Please see the story on page 34 for more details. We are just thrilled about the very real potential that this funding enables for measurable impact. As always, I thank you for your continued interest and support, and I welcome your thoughts and feedback at magazine@ Sincerely,

Fred Bronstein

PEABODY MAGAZINE Editorial Staff Margaret Bell, Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications Michael Carlton, Director of Constituent Engagement Lauren Crewell, Digital Communications Designer Sue De Pasquale, Consulting Editor Will Howard, Copy Editor Ben Johnson, Senior Graphic Designer Sarah Laadt, Digital Communications Coordinator Tiffany Lundquist, Director of Marketing and Communications Conor Reynolds, Assistant Director of Constituent Engagement Michele Scherch, Communications Specialist Amelia Stinette, Communications Coordinator

Advertising Leap Day Media Kristen Cooper, Owner 410-458-9291 Peabody Magazine is published twice during the academic year. Send us your questions and comments: Peabody Magazine Communications Office 1 East Mount Vernon Place Baltimore, MD 21202 667-208-6561

Peabody Institute Advisory Board Rheda Becker Paula E. Boggs

Jill E. McGovern, Chair Christine Rutt Schmitz

Barbara M. Bozzuto Richard Davison Larry D. Droppa Leon Fleisher Nancy S. Grasmick, Vice Chair

Solomon H. Snyder Ci-Ying Sun

(KSAS BS ’81, International Studies)

(BM ’75, Voice)

(BM ’92, MM ’94, Piano)

Marc von May David L. Warnock

(Ed Cert ’75, PhD ’80, Education)

Michael Greenebaum Allan D. Jensen

(KSAS BA ’65; Med MD ‘68)

Michiko S. Jones Laifun Chung Kotcheff Christopher Kovalchick

(BM ’06, Violin; Engr BS ’06, Mechanical Engineering)

Abbe Levin

Emeritus Members Pilar Bradshaw Benjamin H. Griswold IV Taylor A. Hanex (BM ’75, MM ’78, Piano)

Turner B. Smith



Several Peabody faculty members appeared on Grammy award-winning albums this year. Voice faculty artist Elizabeth Futral (pictured below) appears on Tobias Picker: Fantastic Mr. Fox, which won for Best Opera Recording. Matthew Stevens, jazz, was featured on Esperanza Spalding’s 12 Little Spells, which won for Best Jazz Vocal Album and was nominated Best Arrangement, Instruments, and Vocals. Also nominated was composition faculty artist Christopher Cerrone’s work The Pieces That Fall to Earth for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance. Harold Meltzer, composition, was nominated in the category Best Classical Compendium for his album Songs and Structures.

Rosa Ponselle Distinguished Faculty Artist Denyce Graves, mezzo-soprano, sang the role of Maria in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Porgy and Bess, which opened the Met’s 2019–20 season in September with additional performances in January (and performances added in February due to public demand). She also appeared in Time magazine for her remembrance of Jessye Norman. Graves described the impact that Norman had on her as a young African American singer and the inspiration she drew from Norman in the early years of her career.

Sarah Hoover The Hope of Loving, (DMA ’08, Voice), the first full album Peabody’s associate dedicated to the music dean for innovation, of composer Jake interdisciplinary Runestad (MM ’11, partnerships (pictured Composition; MM ’12, below), and community Music Theory Pedagogy) initiatives, and fellow by the acclaimed alumna Marianne professional choir LaCrosse (BM ’92, Conspirare, was Viola), general manager nominated for a and education Grammy Award programs director at in the Best Choral Music@Menlo, were Performance category. selected by Musical This is Conspirare’s America as two of its ninth Grammy Top 30 Worldwide nomination and the Professionals of the Year first nomination for an in 2019. Hoover’s work album of Runestad’s launching new initiatives music. The 62nd in arts and medicine Grammy Awards and developing the ceremony was held on Breakthrough Curriculum, January 26. and LaCrosse’s work managing both the Chamber Music Institute and the Arts Management Internship Program were recognized.

Watch the trailer for Porgy and Bess: Listen to The Hope of Loving:



Professor Manuel Barrueco (BM ’75, Guitar) was inducted into the Guitar Foundation of America’s Hall of Fame and was recognized in the June issue of the GFA’s journal Soundboard with tributes from Martha Masters (BM ’94, MM ’96, Guitar), David Tanenbaum (’76, Guitar), and Graham Wade. Masters says, “Simply put, Manuel was a game changer for the world of guitar. He took the baton from the previous generation and carried it forth, blazing his own path, establishing new standards for technique and sound, and elevating the level of classical guitar within the larger world of classical music.”





Faculty artist Denyce Graves, mezzo-soprano, sang the role of Maria in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Porgy and Bess. Three Peabody alumnae — Taylor-Alexis DuPont (MM ’16, Voice), Brittany Renee Robinson (BM ’05, GPD ’07, Voice), and Tammie Woods (GPD ’14, Voice) — also appeared in the chorus of the production.





When Doreen Falby, a native of Scotland, moved to Maryland in 1989, her sons wanted to be in a children’s chorus. So, she started one — in September 1990 in Columbia, Maryland, with 21 singers. By the second year, she had more than 200 students. Today, some three decades later, the Peabody Children’s Chorus has grown into an expansive choral program serving more than 500 children, ages 5–18, on two campuses (Towson and Howard County), with nine ensembles and four chorus prep classes. Falby credits the choral program’s growth and excellence to her mindset of never giving up: “I’ve had to be very persistent for 30 years,” she says. “Seeing the benefits of PCC for our students, I was determined to keep musical standards high while building a successful organization.” The chorus studies a wide variety of music, from monastic chants to spirituals to Bach. “If you choose the right music, children will respond with boundless love and dedication,” she adds. The PCC instills a strong connection with students and families, evidenced by the fact that about 90 percent of the children return each year. Some stay for the entire 12 years, bringing their friends. “We try to keep rehearsals moving at a fast pace,” Falby says, and then dives into a list of rehearsal techniques used to keep the children engaged. “We sing, move, dance; study song texts and the International Phonetic Alphabet; focus on vocal technique, ear training, sight singing; and have fun with tongue twisters and rhythm games.” The PCC has been around long enough now that some of the group’s alumni have become music teachers and had their own students audition. “For me, it’s just all about the children,” says Falby. “I try to encourage them to develop a passion for studying great music and most importantly to express that passion honestly from their hearts.”


30 Years of Connecting Choristers

Peabody Children’s Chorus through the years.

The Peabody Children’s Chorus has two major performances each year (one in December, the other in May), and also embarks on a biannual summer tour, most often to Europe but sometimes domestically. Falby uses the trips as a way to introduce repertoire that will resonate both with local audiences and the young singers. “I try to choose music of the highest quality, so the choristers feel connected to history and to other cultures,” she says. “It’s a chance to show our students where the music we sing comes from.” The group also performs frequently with local organizations such as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Falby is indebted to a large group of parent volunteers and to a small and very loyal staff that includes chorus manager Sharon Spicher, accompanist Bradley Permenter, and assistant director Mary Poling, an orchestral conductor who has been training the last two years with Falby to work in a choral setting.

Poling says that she herself has become a better musician by working with Falby, and as a parent and staff member she’s seen the difference that Falby has made “in the lives of countless children and families.” Adds Poling, “This chorus is grounding for the children. It’s home. It’s a place that is safe. They know what to expect, and they know that, together, they’re creating beautiful music.” When considering her legacy, Falby says, “It’s really not my legacy — PCC belongs to the generations of young singers who have, through their commitment and enthusiasm, brought us so many beautiful performances. I hope the organization will continue to draw in many more generations of children. That’s what it’s all about.” We are celebrating the Peabody Children’s Chorus’ 30th anniversary by raising $30,000 to support future generations of singers. Help us reach that goal by making your gift online at

Preparing to Launch

Vice Provost Farouk Dey, Dean Fred Bronstein, Associate Dean Sarah Hoover, and LAUNCHPad Director Zane Forshee (also above with student) officially cut the ribbon on the new LAUNCHPad space.


With a move from the basement of Leakin Hall to a gleaming new space just outside Peabody’s dining hall, a unique initiative known as LAUNCHPad has gained greater visibility in its mission to engage students and alumni in career development. The multifaceted LAUNCHPad program offers a hands-on approach to exploring career paths and gaining the skills needed to develop and launch artistic projects. LAUNCHPad also includes a unique educational component, which is integrated into the curriculum of both undergraduate and master’s-level programs at Peabody. “The whole idea is to get students engaged and to hit the ground running, in terms of career preparedness,” says Zane Forshee (MM ’01, GPD ’03, DMA ’11, Guitar), LAUNCHPad director and guitar faculty artist. “Our goal is to help students build and stand up projects, so they can develop a larger portfolio — with the understanding that a larger portfolio will generate more opportunities.” In addition to managing programs to help students build job skills, develop entrepreneurial ventures, and book gigs, LAUNCHPad coordinates three courses foundational to Peabody’s Breakthrough Curriculum: Exploring Arts Careers, Building a Brand and Portfolio, and Pitching Your Creative Idea (see p. 6). The mandatory courses are designed to help students better understand today’s business aspects of the performing arts, and also to learn how to actively market themselves and create a portfolio and online presence that will evolve with their career. Another unique aspect of LAUNCHPad: All of the program’s staff members are working artists. “This is a very different approach to career services,” says Forshee. “We believe the best people to help artists are other artists.” These staffers can draw on their own contacts and experience in their practical efforts around getting projects out to the

world, such as providing help with universitywide initiative seeks to booking tours, making recordings, better integrate career and life and finding collaborators. design into the academic experiLAUNCHPad also hosts a webence of all Johns Hopkins students site ( — beyond offering help creating a that is chock-full of information resume or accessing internships. and resources, including help with Dey, who was present at the ribbuilding a website, creating a press bon-cutting for the new LAUNCHPad kit, using online event calendars offices on November 18, described and audience management platthe program and Peabody’s forms, and much more. All of these Breakthrough Curriculum as a model resources and services are also for successfully integrating career available to Peabody alumni and can services with student learning. He range from help with cover letters says, “I haven’t seen this anywhere and resumes, to assistance in pursuelse, that students go through one ing grant funding and planning tours common curricular experience that and recording projects. helps not only make meaning out of LAUNCHPad ties into a Hopkinswhat they are learning but also to wide initiative overseen by Farouk prepare for the future.” Dey, vice provost for integrative —  Diana Schulin learning and life design. The PEABODY



The Art of the Perfect Pitch


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MAY 3, 2020


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Melanie Piercy, a second-year master’s voice student, is excited about an idea she’s developed to measure the brain waves of vocalists in order to learn which areas of the brain are most active during recitals. At a Peabody “Pitch” competition held in November, Piercy had just five minutes to share her carefully laid plan in front of a juried review board and her classmates. She talked animatedly about what she hoped to learn from such research, which could add to our understanding of singing, mood, and related emotional activity in the brain. Clearly swayed by the value of Piercy’s work, the reviewers suggested she connect with Johns Hopkins researchers to collaborate on brain research already underway. Piercy was just one of 70 students who participated in the Pitch competition, the culminating event in the semester-long Pitching Your Creative Ideas course that is a foundational part of Peabody’s Breakthrough Curriculum and operated through LAUNCHPad (see p. 5). Students in the course develop skills in collaboration and presentation by building an interactive artistic project or designing unique programming tailored to specific audiences. “This is where the rubber meets the road,” says Zane Forshee (MM ’01, GPD ’03, DMA ’11, Guitar), guitar faculty artist and director of LAUNCHPad, who teaches the Pitch course. “Students get to put all the skills they’ve been building in earlier courses — Exploring Arts Careers and Building a Brand and Portfolio — plus their own artistic work, into a setting where they’re applying for a grant.”

The winning pitches received a $5,000 Peabody LAUNCH grant, funded by the Dean’s Office, to help pay expenses to launch their projects during the next academic year. But the Pitch course is much more than a grant-writing experience. Says Forshee, “We take them through the entire process of developing their project ideas, writing a grant proposal (which includes details such as budget, timeline, promotional ideas, and work samples), and then competing and pitching their ideas.” Kelsey Tryon, a master’s bassoon student, found the course to be particularly helpful. “The pitching was a really good experience; we started by practicing one-on-one, then in small groups multiple times … and eventually pitched to the whole class,” says Tryon. “What’s great about this is that we already need the portfolios, so even if I don’t get this grant, I still have a portfolio ready to submit for other grants.” Other ideas from the November Pitch event ranged from bringing real-time video music lessons to high school students in rural areas, to offering more live classical concerts in smaller towns that traditionally focus on pop music, to recording older classics that are not available digitally for modern audiences. With each presentation, time was allotted for follow-up questions from the review board members, who also made suggestions on how the proposals might be improved. —  Diana Schulin

The End of an Era

Edward Polochick (MM ’78, Choral Conducting, Piano) now and in the 1980s.


When Edward Polochick joined the Peabody faculty in 1979, the music conservatory was beginning to explore what would become its permanent relationship with Johns Hopkins University. Already acclaimed as a pianist and conductor — Polochick had graduate degrees in both from Peabody — the 27-year-old musician became a faculty member just after the departure of its opera conductor Fiora Contino. “I was so lucky,” he recalls. “Because it was at a transition time, I ended up conducting chamber opera, grand opera, chamber orchestra, large orchestra, chamber chorus, full chorus, chorus, and orchestra. I had it all, and I had to work my butt off.” Over the next four decades, in addition to his work at Peabody, Polochick served as artistic director of Concert Artists of Baltimore, the professional chorus and orchestra he founded and led for 31 years, directed the Baltimore Symphony Chorus, and worked as music director of a symphony orchestra in Lincoln, Nebraska. Polochick says the greatest thrill of After he retires from Peabody this working at Peabody is being present spring, Polochick will continue to to witness young artists recognize and travel back and forth to Nebraska grasp their own potential. where he has built appreciation for “The reward is being able to help Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra since shape, form, and guide them, help 1998. During his tenure, the organigive them a platform for their own zation has added innovative classical artistic souls to spring from,” he says. music programs, family concerts, “The most important thing has to do and pops concerts and initiated com- with that moment in your heart, in munity outreach programs such as your soul and in your intellect, when chamber ensemble performances in the connections are made. The light health care facilities. bulb goes off — and you begin to soar.” The many facets of this rich Such impassioned expressiveness musical career continue to inspire makes him a memorable teacher Polochick’s former student assistants. and mentor, Tani says. There’s also “I really can’t imagine another conhis exuberance: Those spontaneous ductor out there who has his intenhugs and the singular Polochick sity on the podium. His extreme laugh that former assistant Erin knowledge of the score is surpassed Freeman (MM ’06, Conducting) only by his love for the people he’s describes as “unbridled joy.” working with,” says Ryan Tani “Ed brought a fierce loyalty to (MM ’17, Conducting), a graduate stuPeabody, and a determination dent in conducting at Yale University to always present a higher level who studied and worked with of performance to the students Polochick for four years. than they themselves thought was

possible,” says Freeman, who directs the Richmond Symphony Chorus as well as choral activities at Virginia Commonwealth University. “He never settled, never settled. With him, there was always another level of excellence that the students could reach, and he did whatever it took to get them there.” Adds Ken Lam (MM ’07, Conducting), music director of the Charleston Symphony and Illinois Symphony orchestras, “Once you’ve done it the Ed way, you can’t look back.” Similarly, Tani says he tries “to embrace a little bit of Ed-ness” whenever he conducts. “On the podium, there is a tension between the leader and the people of the orchestra who are trying to do the best that they can do,” he notes. “But when you step off, being a leader also means having a genuine openness and kindness, an empathy for all the musicians — especially if they are students.” —  Linell Smith







Finding a like-minded group of young men — and male instructors — is key for the talented dancers who enroll in the Estelle Dennis Dance Training Program for Boys at the Peabody Preparatory, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary.


MEN By Christine Grillo Photography by Jim Burger




Setia Kurniawanto

PREVIOUS PAGES: Preparatory dance instructor Paul Wegner works with Preparatory dance student Ellis Thompson. Members of the Estelle Dennis boys’ dance program — Back row (l to r): Declan Casey, Alejandro Barrera, Jaron Givens, and Larry Lancaster with instructor Paul Wegner; Middle: Sage Chng-Lim; Front row (l to r): Shaquan Medley and Seth Mostofsky ABOVE: Setia Kurniawanto




bounces lightly on his toes. “Dance studio floors have to be springy,” he says, demonstrating in one of the Peabody Institute’s studios. It’s spacious, with clean lines, barres, and quite a few mirrors. He skims a foot across the wood floor. “You can slide a little more on wood,” he says, pointing out that some floors are wood and some are made of marley. “The marley provides more friction. They’re different, but they’re both good,” he says. Kurniawanto, age 18, is a first-year student in the Conservatory’s BFA Dance program, which launched in the fall of 2018. But he’s been dancing and learning in Peabody studios since he was 12 years old, through the Estelle Dennis Dance Training Program for Boys at the Peabody Preparatory. The program was established in 2009, after Carol Bartlett (then artistic director of the Preparatory Dance program) and Barbara Weisberger (then artistic adviser) approached the Estelle Dennis Scholarship Trust about a partnership. Named for the dancer who founded the first dance theater in Baltimore, the Estelle Dennis boys’ dance program trains boys — and only boys — in many forms of dance, with an emphasis on ballet and contemporary. It’s unique in many ways, starting with the fact that acceptance into the program is based entirely on the raw talent and passion observed during auditions. Another special fact about the program is that it’s almost entirely free to students: Not only is tuition covered, but also the cost of shoes. Kurniawanto danced with the Estelle Dennis program for four years, commuting from Frederick, Maryland, where he was homeschooled. His mother drove him to the Baltimore campus for after-school classes. “The program was a really big part of my education,” says Kurniawanto, the first graduate of the boys’ dance program to attend the Peabody Conservatory as a dance student. Now, as a college student, he lives in a Peabody residence hall. “This building was my second home for years,” he says, “and now it’s my first home.” danah bella, chair of Conservatory Dance, says that Kurniawanto’s familiarity with Peabody “has made taking chances an easier feat.” She adds, “Already, in one semester, he has engaged in embodied research in ways new and different to him, and collaborated on various projects with student composers. He was well prepared to enter the Conservatory dance program.”

Keon Wagstaff, age 15, has been with the Estelle Dennis program since he was 9 years old. Currently a sophomore at Baltimore School for the Arts in the dance program, he was introduced to the program by his mother, Carissa Fowlkes, who has worked for 11 years at Peabody, currently as a registration system coordinator. “I used to just dance for hours in my living room,” says Wagstaff, “and then my mother signed me up for an audition.” Fowlkes loves to tell the story about connecting her son to the program. “He used to flip, twirl, jump, and dance around the apartment. One day when I took him to work with me, one of the faculty members, Lisa Green-Cudek, saw him, and she said, ‘You should take him to Estelle Dennis.’ I was like, ‘But he’ll get picked on.’ But we did it.” Fowlkes’ favorite part of the story is that, before auditioning, her son Keon had been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. At some point after starting the dance program, though, he was able to stop taking his ADHD medication. “He’s fully off it,” she says. “He hasn’t had it for years, because his outlet is dance. He just fell in love with it; he embraced it and owned it.”

“This program being tuition-free is really the only reason I’m still dancing.” — Setia Kurniawanto

Kurniawanto improvises with danah bella, chair of Conservatory Dance.




“Dance is a different way to express yourself… dance brings out another part of me — that’s why I love it so much.”





— Keon Wagstaff

Wagstaff is thriving at the BSA, both academically and with dance. In December, he performed in Trepak, the Russian dance in Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, which the BSA produces every year, and this spring he’ll dance in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a dance production based on the Shakespeare play. “His therapist chastised me for taking him off his medication,” says Fowlkes, “but he’s on honor roll. His creative outlet has helped his disorder. He’s at Peabody more than he’s home.” At first, Wagstaff admits, it was hard to be in the program because of the stigma attached to boys and dance. “You think of girls doing ballet, but when you think of males doing it, it’s weird,” he says. “I really didn’t tell anyone — I was ashamed — people think only girls only do it. But as I got older, I got comfortable with it.” Melissa Stafford, director and department chair of Preparatory Dance, points out that in countries like Russia, Cuba, and France there are state-funded schools for ballet, for both boys and girls. “In the U.S., it’s unusual to have boys in ballet, for most of our history,” she says. “Here, it’s not been seen as typically masculine,” says Stafford. “Boys often deal with bullying and questions regarding their sexuality. Parents would sometimes prefer their sons engage in traditionally masculine activities.” “I had male friends in dance who were bullied,” says Kurniawanto. “But I personally haven’t encountered bullying, because I was homeschooled.” Paul Wegner, who has been teaching ballet since 1992 — and in the boys’ dance program for five years — says the stigma is hardest for boys in middle school. He recalls a middle-school student of his, now at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, who was at the studio when he recognized a friend who was there to pick up his sister. “He ducked down so he was below the level of the window, so the boy wouldn’t see him,” he says. “But as he got older, he was able to own it.” Because of this potential unease, the Estelle Dennis staff run the program to provide maximum support. Boys who are new to the program are enrolled in allboys classes with male teachers, and they all go on field trips that allow them to see men dancing professionally, such as to Billy Elliot: The Musical on tour at the Hippodrome, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater,

LEFT: Keon Wagstaff, performs in Preparatory Dance’s production of Sleeping Beauty. ABOVE: Wagstaff with his mother Carissa Fowlkes, a Peabody staff member.

and Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, a reimagining of the Tchaikovsky ballet with an all-male cast of swans. “As they progress, we incorporate them into classes with girls, but when we do that we make sure that no boy is the only boy in a class,” says Stafford. Wegner, who teaches in several dance programs, including ones at Towson University and Goucher College, says that the students will travel from as far away as Pennsylvania for the opportunity to be in a class with other boys. “Having that opportunity to have male teachers, to be with a group of people who are like-minded is a special thing,” says Wegner. “It may be that in your whole town there’s no other boy who dances. Girls never have to face that. It’s quite common to be in a studio where you’re the only boy anywhere near your age. Or maybe there’s one other boy, but you’re 15, and he’s 5.” There’s a different emphasis in a male class, says Wegner. The style is different, especially for arm movements, and there are more jumps and more emphasis on turning. There are between six and 10 foundational male steps that girls never learn. PEABODY



Wegner instructs Darius Kaiser.




“It’s still elegant,” he says, “but more rooted in strength instead of beauty. The timing to men’s jumping is different, too.” Because the Estelle Dennis program is tuition-free, it’s able to enroll a diverse group of boys from the Greater Baltimore area. Fowlkes says the financial support is critical for attracting raw talent from the region, and Wegner agrees: “Many of them wouldn’t have the opportunity to dance if it weren’t for the program.” “You have to help the boys and make it worthwhile,” says Stafford, “especially for parents who may be on the fence.” When Kurniawanto was beginning the program, he says, his family’s financial situation was challenging. “This program being tuition-free is really the only reason I’m still dancing,” he says. The Estelle Dennis program has a solid track record of graduates who continue dancing after high school. According to Stafford, the goal of the program is to get students into college dance programs or preprofessional training schools associated with dance companies. One graduate, Kareem Best, who was the first in his family to go to college, is currently dancing with the Contemporary West Dance Theatre in Las Vegas. Cameron Pelton is a sophomore at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, studying ballet and choreography. And Logan Paschall, who was in the inaugural class of the boys’ dance program, performed in a hip-hop production of Pinocchio in Chicago and recently joined the Huntsville Ballet Company in Alabama. “I’m trying not to have super-specific goals,” says Kurniawanto. “My goals are to get into a dance company, dance for a few years, as long as I can, then I want to teach. Maybe I can dance until I’m 40, if I don’t overwork and injure myself.” Wagstaff plans to stay with the Estelle Dennis program throughout high school. After high school, he’d love to dance with the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, and he plans to audition for its junior dance company, Ailey II. “I want to do college as well, as long as they have a dance program,” he says. For now, though, he’s happy where he is. “Dance is a different way to express yourself,” says Wagstaff. “You just move and be free, and it’s also helped me; dance brings out another part of me — that’s why I love it so much.”



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The PEABODY PREPARATORY is Baltimore’s premier community the performing arts. Constructionschool on ourfor new 8-story addition withOur 58 summer spacious session offers individual and group instruction for students residences is underway. So don’t wait, we expect the Grand of all ages and skill levels and specialty programs in Expansion to be completely sold out when construction isstrings, piano, guitar, dance, complete in spring 2021.voice, and more. Reserve today while the opportunity to customize your

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By Joan Katherine Cramer


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ABOVE: Jonathan Taylor Rush (MM ’19, Orchestral Conducting) (pictured feeding giraffe) performed and traveled with artists in Africa. OPPOSITE: Kayin Scanterbury (BM ’18, Jazz Percussion) (back center) with students in the Tuned-In program.







Dan Trahey calls it “the most magical thing I’ve ever found.” The Peabody

Preparatory faculty artist, who graduated from the Conservatory in 2000 with a degree in tuba and music education, is talking about a revolutionary way of teaching and thinking about music that is inspiring new sounds and a new ethic among young musicians all over the world. Informed in part by El Sistema — the system of teaching children music to effect social change that was developed in 1975 in a Venezuelan parking garage and subsequently caught fire internationally — this new way of thinking about what it means to be both a musician and a music teacher is part of a rich interplay between Peabody faculty members and alums and aspiring young musicians from Detroit to Nairobi. Trahey — who serves on the board of El Sistema USA and who was integral to the creation of two El Sistema programs in Baltimore, Tuned-In and OrchKids — traveled to Chile this winter for his third El Sistema Educators Bootcamp. There, he works with the National Youth Orchestra of Chile, not only on the traditional repertoire but also on creating a new orchestral piece based on a locally relevant social and/or musical theme. “One of the themes of last winter’s composition was about the value of a human life, especially inequality,” Trahey says. “We might start by asking, ‘What does inequality sound like?’ And one of the kids will say, ‘It sounds like a dog with three legs.’ Then we ask, ‘What does that sound like?’ And someone will talk about a jingle bell on each leg. Ultimately, they come up with a mixed meter pattern, like a Steve Reich piece. When we get into the orchestration, they say, ‘Let’s have all of the winds, brass, and percussion play as loud as possible at the same time the strings play pianissimo to show what an unbalanced society might sound like.’”

Collective composition is a way to engage musicians where they are, says Trahey. “You hook people on music by getting into the music they are listening to, their culture.” So, when he and Preparatory Wind Orchestra Conductor Elijah Wirth took the Preparatory’s Tuned-In Wind Brass Percussion Congregation to Detroit last June, they spent the week working with local musicians and incorporating Detroit sounds, including Stevie Wonder, with the goal of creating something entirely new. Tuned-In students worked with the young musicians of Accent Pontiac (an El Sistema–inspired program in one of the region’s most distressed towns), performed all over Detroit, and wrote a piece combining the musical flavors of Pontiac and Baltimore. Trahey says this kind of deep exploration informs everything he is doing, both as a musician and a teacher. “It’s what my work is based on now: connecting communities by not only validating the interpretations of Western European music, but also acknowledging the fact that there is a new sound to be found in every community, if they’re willing to explore it.” He says it’s also a way to diversify the traditional repertoire. “We know that the repertoire needs to be racially and regionally diverse and gender equal, but because our ensembles represent so many demographics already, what they are creating is naturally emblematic of their inherent diversity.” PEABODY









Jonathan Taylor Rush (pictured) and Clifton Joey Guidry (BM ’18, Bassoon) worked with dancers and musicians performing The Nutcracker at the Kenyan National Theatre in Nairobi.


“The diversity is amazing. We had people of all skill levels, all social strata.” — Jonathan Taylor Rush




Peabody doctoral student Rachel O’Connor is a graduate of the Global Leaders Program “for rising musical change makers,” a national program that introduced her to entrepreneurial skills, teaching artistry, and a number of El Sistema programs in Latin America. It was this experience that served as the launching pad for a proposed teaching artistry and performance tour of Latin America that earned her last year’s $10,000 Presser Graduate Music Award. A French horn player from Toronto, O’Connor used the funding to focus on teaching and learning with musical communities in Bolivia, Chile, Peru, and Mexico through brass pedagogy and performance training. The original plan was for a three-week sojourn, but when O’Connor started planning and talking to people the interest was so great it ended up being nearly eight weeks. And the number of communities she would visit surged from three to 21. O’Connor worked constantly during that whirlwind 2019 tour, which began in mid-May and continued through the beginning of July. She led master classes and workshops, worked individually with students and teachers, and performed for audiences so receptive she arrived at one venue to find concertgoers lined up around the block. She also received a substantial donation of instrument cleaning and auxiliary supplies from Maryland’s esteemed Baltimore Brass Co., which she distributed throughout the trip. A major part of her work was organizing brass and chamber music festivals; she used part of the funding to bring in guest artists and clinicians to replicate her own formative experiences at summer music festivals. Most of her work in Chile and Peru consisted of doing residencies and master classes with El Sistema–inspired organizations. And she spent her first week in Bolivia launching a brass program at a music school in a remote town in the Amazon.

“It was an incredible privilege to be welcomed into these vibrant musical communities,” says O’Connor. “The warmth and receptiveness brought out the best in my teaching and musicianship.” She is actively working toward establishing continuing partnerships with the communities and organizations she engaged with during the tour, as well as finding a way to facilitate a similar experience for others. “The hardest part was that first step, actually putting my dreams on paper and committing to them,” she says. “Once I started moving, it wasn’t so hard. So, I hope people find that inspiring.” It’s an unimaginably vast musical world when you get out of your own bubble, as Jonathan Taylor Rush (MM ’19, Orchestral Conducting) and Clifton Joey Guidry (BM ’18, Bassoon) discovered when they went to Nairobi for the second year in a row to play The Nutcracker with the Nairobi Philharmonic Orchestra for the Dance Centre of Kenya. “It may sound cheesy,” says Guidry, “but there is something amazing about communicating with people from other countries through The Nutcracker when you’ve never played together and may not even speak the same language.” A year ago, Guidry saw that Rush, his friend and Peabody classmate, had been chosen to conduct the orchestra. “Jonathan had won the prestigious Respighi Prize in Conducting and played at Carnegie Hall, and there was all this press attention,” says Guidry. “Plus, he’s a black American and the Dance Centre really wanted a black conductor, so they hired him. I’m also a black American and I’ve always wanted to go back to Africa and never could see how I could get myself there, so I called him and said, ‘This is awesome. Do you need a bassoon?’ And, incredibly, he did!”

“The hardest part was that first step, actually putting my dreams on paper and committing to them. Once I started moving, it wasn’t so hard.” — Rachel O’Connor

As part of a $10,000 Presser Graduate Music Award, French Horn doctoral student Rachel O’Connor taught in Bolivia, Chile, Peru, and Mexico, through an eight-week tour that included master classes and workshops, individual lessons and training, and performances.




Rush struggles to find words to fully describe the The Sinfonietta will be bringing some of the Kenyan experience. “I can’t do it justice,” he says. “The place musicians to Chicago to continue the collaboration is so lush, so beautiful, the culture so rich, the peo- with performances and master classes this spring, ple so warm and friendly. They dance and sing while thanks in part to funding the group received from a they work, while they play, while they worship, in the MacArthur Fellowship, or “genius grant,” Rush says. streets, and they come up to you while you’re passing There is a near-mythic quality to playing in Nairobi, by and say, ‘What’s up, brother? What’s up sister?’ I says Guidry. “It’s like being back with the ancestors.” felt immediately at home.” And now, when he is composing, he finds himself In Kenya, Western classical music is rooted in colo- drifting back to “that peaceful place of just pure trannialism, but the Nairobi Philharmonic Orchestra is quility where I know people are with me on this journow virtually all-Kenyan, “and people were thrilled ney, and I have this support system even when it’s one to have a black conductor,” Rush says. “They told me I can’t see.” they’d never seen one. Plus, last year was also the That mythic connection, that diverse and even othfirst time The Nutcracker was performed with a live erworldly support system that transcends language orchestra, and the excitement was so great we had and culture and gender and ethnicity, is the essence twice as many people show up to play this year and of the new sounds young musicians are bringing into a much larger audience, including the U.S. ambassa- the world, Dan Trahey says. dor, who was just blown away. The diversity is amaz“So right now, we have these kids who came up in ing. We had people of all skill levels, all social strata, Baltimore City through Tuned-In paired with kids plus musicians from Berlin and the U.S., including they’ve already worked with at El Sistema summer the Chicago Sinfonietta [where Rush is now assistant camps in places like L.A., Chicago, and Miami. And conductor], who also taught master classes. And we they’re creating a community within our commusounded incredible.” nity, a kind of synergy. Through El Sistema, they’ve learned not only music, but mentoring and teaching, from a very young age. A kid may know only three notes, but he teaches the kid who knows no notes. So, these kids are not only changing music, they are changing the world.”

Accent Pontiac and Peabody Preparatory students perform their original composition “Do What You Wanna”: Students in the Preparatory’s Tuned-In Wind Brass Percussion Congregation traveled to Detroit last summer, where they spent the week working with local musicians and incorporating Detroit sounds.




‘A Work in Progress’ Since arriving as dean five years ago, Fred Bronstein has made improving diversity — of faculty, students, and programs — a top priority at Peabody, and a variety of initiatives are beginning to bear fruit. In the wideranging interview that follows, Dean Bronstein tells why it’s so crucial to engage classical musicians from historically underrepresented communities, and he talks candidly about the successes and challenges of ongoing diversity efforts across the institute.

Interview by Sue De Pasquale

Why does the issue of diversity continue to be so important for Peabody? Historically, classical music has been a shockingly flip over the next 30 to 40 years. Couple that with the nondiverse field. And the reality is that even today fact that we’ve seen a decrease in audiences for classiif you go to any major orchestra in this country and cal music over several decades. Taken together, that’s look on stage, if you see one or two musicians of a bad formula for success for the future. color, that’s a lot. That is an appalling fact of life. From a strategic perspective, we need to grow audiAnd that’s not good for the field. It’s not good for the ences that are much more diverse than we have today. quality of music. It’s not good on many levels. And that can only happen if you change the face of Then there’s the issue that demographically the the performers — if you see more African Americans, United States has changed dramatically and will con- more Latinx musicians, and more women (e.g. continue to change dramatically over the next three to four ductors) up on stage. So that’s how I come at this. decades. Today, we are effectively a two-thirds white To me, the single biggest issue is that existential and one-third nonwhite population; that is going to question: Who’s going to come?





In February, the Peabody Studio Orchestra performed Laura Karpman’s Ask Your Mama, based on the poetry of Langston Hughes.

Peabody is not atypical from other conservatories. Going back 160 years, we’ve had a checkered history with regard to addressing this issue [of diversity]. It’s not been a positive story. We have the opportunity today to really change the trajectory. So that’s why diversity is something that is front and center — one of the critical issues we focus on, not just for Peabody but for the future of the industry. You’ve been working hard on improving diversity at Peabody since you began as dean in 2014. Are you seeing progress? Yes, we are. This fall, 13 percent of our faculty members are underrepresented minorities. Two years ago, we were at 6.5 percent. So, we’ve essentially doubled the presence of underrepresented minority faculty here in two years. If you look at the average of our peer set of music schools across the country, we’re now about three times the average. Similarly, we have been very proactive in building the diversity of our student body. Today, we are at about 14 percent, which totals about 95 to 100 students who identify as underrepresented minorities. That’s up about 60 percent from 2015. Is it where we want it to be? No. But we will continue to keep building. Today at Peabody, when you walk into a room of students or a faculty meeting, you see considerably more diversity than you would have seen before.




How would you describe the current campus climate at Peabody in terms of inclusiveness? We are actively working to really develop a culture of diversity and inclusion. Over the last year, we’ve held microtrigger workshops for faculty and administrative leaders, managers, and some students. [Microtriggers are subtle offenses — words, tone, inflection, or body language — that can create real and undue harm.] One of the things we’ve observed is that people may say things without understanding how what they say could be interpreted. So, we want to create more awareness around that. It’s an interesting challenge on a campus like ours — a little hothouse mix of people, with about 670 students and 300 or so faculty and staff. We have an international population; we have students coming from increasingly diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. So, people are bringing different frameworks and experiences. We are giving people the tools, through featured speakers and training sessions, and seeding the environment to have conversations around the issue of diversity. I would never say that we are where we want to be on this yet. It’s a work in progress to create a place where people really feel safe and comfortable and included. But we are really working at it. As the community becomes more diverse, it heightens the need for this kind of work.

What steps is Peabody taking to increase the pipeline of faculty and students from diverse backgrounds? Intentionality is really important; you start from the premise that, yes, the pipeline to this field has not been rich with diversity and we, as a field, have not done enough to address that. With faculty searches, people tend to go to what they are familiar with. It’s very important to think and look beyond that traditional sphere. So, we have a faculty diversity advocate on every search committee; that’s become part of our process. At every step in that recruiting process, we are looking at diversity of the pool of candidates. How did diversity advance? When the candidates who advanced were not diverse, why not? I’ve sent searches back, actually. I think that kind of intentionality — and creating that awareness — helps everyone become much more conscious of the importance of diversity. I should also note that the University Provost’s Office has been very supportive in our diversity efforts, and in funding incentives that have allowed us to attract highly qualified candidates from diverse backgrounds. On the student side, the Admissions Office has done something really interesting that has made a big difference in our ability to identify and recruit African American and Latinx students. It’s called the Blue-Ribbon Scholarship program. We now have close to 30 partners around the country: high schools and other programs that are performing-arts magnets that tend to be in urban centers where the student population is often more diverse. In developing scholarship partnerships with these schools, we’ve been able to attract some of the country’s most talented students, and really broaden the reach of where our students are coming from in a very significant way. It’s also really inspiring to see our current students wanting to be a part of building diversity at Peabody. In December, I met with members of La Obra, the Latinx student group at Peabody, and they were expressly interested in knowing how they could help recruit students of diverse backgrounds, and especially first-generation students. Do you see a need for Peabody to work toward diversifying its concert programming? I do think we need to think more broadly about repertoire and one of the things we’re starting to

think much more intentionally about is what we program and how we program, and how we can bring diversity into that. Two examples come immediately to mind. Peabody marked the Bernstein Centennial in fall 2018 with a production of Leonard Bernstein’s MASS, performed for a diverse audience of 3,000 attendees at Baltimore’s New Psalmist Baptist Church. The production was conducted by Marin Alsop and featured the Morgan State University Choir and other community partners. Another example is Peabody’s recent performance of Ask Your Mama, a jazz-inspired work by composer Laura Karpman that sets to music Langston Hughes’ moving text. Of course, it’s a balancing act; we have to provide the traditional repertoire that is the core of classical music because our students need to learn that, but at the same time you want them to learn a breadth of styles and repertoire. It’s very important for our students to be musically flexible as they go out into their professional lives and they develop their own audiences. This is an area where we are starting to pay more attention, but we have a way to go. Ultimately, this has to extend to more diversity in the curriculum itself and to go beyond the western musical canon.

“We need to grow audiences that are much more diverse than we have today. And that can only happen if you change the face of the performers.” — Dean Fred Bronstein

I will add that Peabody has a fantastic Composition Department, and it’s in the composition world where you can really see an increasing diversity of musical voices and experiences and backgrounds. That’s where barriers dissipate. For example, Kendrick Lamar, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2017 for his album Damn, was the first nonclassical or jazz artist to win the Pulitzer. I love that. Here’s this hip-hop artist who essentially wrote a contemporary song cycle. To me that speaks very clearly to the breakdown of barriers.




“We have to provide the traditional repertoire that is the core of classical music because our students need to learn that, but at the same time you want them to learn a breadth of styles and repertoire that represents different kinds of composers.” — Dean Fred Bronstein

What lies ahead, both near and long term, for diversity initiatives at Peabody? I’d love to say that we will continue on this trajectory of growth. But I also want to be realistic. We’ve had a big generational turnover in our faculty in recent years, which has given us the opportunity to be serious about this as we have undertaken a lot of new searches. That will inevitably slow down. But I do think the student component will continue to grow, thanks in large part to efforts we’ve undertaken on the earlier end of the pipeline through Tuned-In, which is our program in the Peabody Preparatory that identifies and trains students from Baltimore of middle and high school age to help prepare them for possible careers in the arts. Some additional focus that we’re giving that program will contribute directly to our intentional recruitment of a more diverse student population into the Conservatory. We’ve now seen the first of our Tuned-In graduates come through and graduate from the Conservatory. It’s amazing. It’s a slow process, but it actually works. Also, in December, the Mellon Foundation awarded Peabody a multiyear grant of $1 million to support Peabody’s role in the inaugural BaltimoreWashington Musical Pathways collaborative initiative, which seeks to diversify the landscape of the American classical music field. As cultural anchors in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., Peabody and the Read Dean Fred Bronstein’s article on diversity in classical music for Insight Into Diversity:




Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and other affiliated partners will work to improve pathways for student musicians in grades 8–12 from historically underrepresented communities. (See p. 34 for more.) That’s a key part of this: Over the next 10 to 20 years, there has to be a long-term view and commitment to diversity efforts. The problem comes when you stop focusing on it; I would hope that this gets embedded in the culture of this place, so that long after we’re gone, everybody who is coming along thinks diversity is every bit as important as it is today. In fact, ultimately, we hope that a discussion of diversity in classical music and dance itself becomes obsolete. That will happen when diversity is pervasive in the field. Wouldn’t that be great!  Jared Hancock (MM ’19, Voice), Brianna Samuels (MM ’19, Voice), and Curtis Bannister (GPD ’10, Voice) in Peabody’s 2018 performance of Leonard Bernstein’s MASS.


Within our Breakthrough Curriculum, the community engagement element is core. We’re getting our students to think: How do you program for diverse audiences? How do you build an audience? What does community engagement mean? There’s a rich landscape, particularly here in the city of Baltimore, in which our students can think and learn about these issues.

ALUMNI We Need You: As Peabody moves into a new decade, we are guided by our Breakthrough Plan and are excited by the endless possibilities that lie ahead of us. In February, we celebrated George Peabody’s philanthropic legacy with Peabody’s first “Founder’s Week.” During Founder’s Week, many of you told us how Peabody helped you break through in your life, career, and studies. Our students and alumni shared stories with our office of success and challenge, as well as artistic, personal, and professional growth. It was truly inspiring to hear how Peabody helped shape so many of your lives and we hope that you will, in turn, help by paying your experiences forward and supporting the next generation of Peabody alumni. Founder’s Week was a reminder of
the progress we have made, as well as the tremendous opportunities
for growth and engagement that exist in our work with you, our dedicated alumni. Our Alumni Relations team is

here to serve as a reliable resource for all our alumni; however, the truth of the matter is this: Peabody needs you. Here’s how you can help. Our team is working closely with Peabody’s career service center, LAUNCHPad, to finalize a formal mentoring program between current students and recent graduates. Our goal is to foster longterm relationships between students and alumni mentors based on shared experiences and common ground to support our students as they begin preparations for life after Peabody. In conjunction with Johns Hopkins University’s Alumni Relations team, our alumni have begun working with the Society of Black Alumni in order to connect students with valuable resources, mentors, and professional development and leadership opportunities. It is quite heartening to witness our dedicated alumni support Peabody’s commitment to diversity and to work actively to enhance the black student experience across the JHU enterprise.

Opportunities for your involvement are endless. Perhaps you’d like to participate in LAUNCHPad or volunteer with the Society of Black Alumni. Or maybe you would enjoy taking an international student at Peabody to lunch or speaking with prospective students
at a high school. There are so many ways to be involved. If you are interested in learning more about any of these opportunities, please send us an email at or call at 667-208-6552. Together, we hope to create more opportunities to connect, learn, grow, and inspire. We are always happy to hear from you.

Michael Carlton Director of Constituent Engagement


17 faculty and staff volunteers


(44 hours of service)





meals served

bags of litter and debris cleared

community engagement events

concerts and master classes

(at Our Daily Bread)

(from Mt. Vernon Place Park)




Finding the Flow in Music Making When young students arrive for their music class at the Mindful Music Academy in Los Angeles, they begin with a breathing exercise that encourages them to be aware of their breath going in and out. Then there might be an improvisation exercise, where one student plays a drone, repeating the same note or chord, while another listens and then adds a melody to accompany it. Teenage students might be guided through a visualization, where they focus on creating sounds in their minds instead of playing the notes on a page. Each of these mindfulness practices has a purpose: to help young musicians get into “the zone,” a place where playing music becomes easier, says trumpeter Jim Sherry (DMA ‘02, Trumpet), the academy’s co-founder. “The goal is to find that flow where music comes naturally and you’re not working too hard to make something happen,” adds Sherry, who mainly teaches wind instruments to his students. “As a musician, you’ve got to be really focused and centered for peak performance and peak practicing. Getting into ‘the zone’ is essential. If you’re not there, you’re wasting your time.” Sherry realized the connection between music and mindfulness — defined as the quality or state of being conscious or aware and focusing one’s awareness on the present moment — after meeting Buddhist practitioner and writer Thich Nhat Hanh at a retreat in Vermont. After presenting about this connection at places like the College Music Society and Music Educators Association conferences in Wisconsin and Iowa, Sherry and his wife, pianist Bang Lang Do — who has taught at Peabody Preparatory and whose family is close friends with Thich Nhat Hanh — founded the Mindful Music Academy in 2015. Through the academy’s classes, Sherry teaches students at the Young Musicians Foundation, the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, and public and Montessori schools around Los Angeles. 26



Sherry is also one of three fellows “For so many years, I ordered the who are part of Young Musicians music from the store and put it on Foundation’s inaugural fellowship stands, and we played it, and that’s program, which aims to develop really cool because music is exquimusicians as leaders in commusite,” says Sherry, who is close to nity engagement and civic artistry. finishing a PhD program in music Working at a handful of YMF’s 30 education at the University of Iowa. sites, Sherry — who credits Peabody “But creating a piece of music that you with giving him some of his first made up over several weeks of workexperiences working with kids in ing together is important for everythe community at the Baltimore one to feel that ownership and pride. Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore I want them to feel like, ‘This is ours School for the Arts, and the Baltimore and we created something unique.’” City Public Schools — will help stuAlthough Sherry performs prodents put together community-based, fessionally, playing in orchestras culturally responsive projects that and small bands in Los Angeles and focus on music and mindfulness. traveling around the country with his These projects will be presented at a wife to perform together at various three-day festival in East Los Angeles venues, his goal isn’t to help his and Compton, California, in May. students become professional musiAs of December, Sherry, who has cians. Instead, he says, “I really like also taught music at the Chicago pub- teaching younger kids to find their lic schools and at Mahidol University joy in music.” in Bangkok, Thailand, is working —  Jennifer Walker with 9- and 10-year-old students, encouraging them to make their own music using wind and string instruments, percussion, voice, and comLearn more about Mindful Music puter-generated sound. Academy:

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.

Master’s candidate Peng Huang, audio sciences, has been awarded the Dolby Institute Scholarship. The scholarship is a partnership between the Dolby Institute and the Audio Engineering Society Educational Foundation to award an international graduate student member of AES with an interest in content creation and the study of the science of sight and sound. See also Peng Huang in Recording Arts

BRASS The Melodica Men — Joe Buono (BM ’13, MM ’15, Bass Trombone) and Tristan Lane Clarke (’12, Trumpet) — made their Philly POPS debut as part of “A Philly POPS Christmas: Spectacular Sounds of the Season” in December. Jonathan Parrish (MM ’92, French Horn) has been appointed the new executive director of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra in Hagerstown, Md. Jim Sherry (DMA ’02, Trumpet) won the inaugural Debut Fellowship from the Young Musicians Foundation. The fellowship includes a $5,000 stipend, extensive professional development, and direct experience in working with the students and communities YMF serves. (See story on p. 26.) Stephen A. Slater (GPD ’15, Horn) accepted a one-year position as second horn of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra for the 2019–20 season.

C O MPO SITION See Judah Adashi in Piano and Vocal Studies Jenny Beck (BM ’08, Composition) and Gen Tanaka (MM ’18, Composition) have been selected as finalists for the 2020 Gaudeamus Composition Competition in The Netherlands. They are two of four finalists chosen out of 233 composers and will participate in the Gaudeamus Muziekweek and compete for the Gaudeamus Award.

The Oregon Symphony premiered Composition Department Chair and Professor Oscar Bettison’s Remaking a Forest, commissioned by the symphony, in September. The Notre Dame Cathedral fire in April was an inspiration for the piece. “The Forest” is the nickname for Notre Dame’s attic, and Bettison was fascinated with how Notre Dame will be restored. The world premiere of Houses of Peace by Joshua Bornfield (DMA ’13, Composition; MM ’14, Music Theory Pedagogy) will be performed by Professor Amit Peled, cello, on April 25 with the Handel Choir of Baltimore. See Benjamin Buchanan in Vocal Studies An album by Sergio Cervetti (BM ’67, Composition), Parallel Realms, was named a gold medal winner at the Global Music Awards, an international showcase for original music, unique voices, and emerging artists from around the world. His Elegy for a Prince, an opera based on Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince, was performed at Carnegie Hall in February.

the art through his music. Ge also received third place for his composition A Darkling Solstice Psaltery at the second annual International Music Competition of Harbin. The piece was premiered in concert by conductor Qiyuan Zhu and the Harbin Symphony Orchestra. See also Bobby Ge in Conducting See Ledah Finck in Piano Professor Michael Hersch (BM ’95, MM ’97, Composition) premiered his 11-hour chamber work sew me into a shroud of leaves at the Wien Modern in Vienna. The work is in the form of a trilogy beginning with a piece for solo piano, then cello and horn, then solo piano again. See also Michael Hersch in Vocal Studies Master of Music students Seo Yoon Kim, composition, and Wendy Johnston, organ, were recently commissioned by the American Guild of Organists as part of the AGO Student Commissioning Project. Kim and Johnston are one of four composer-and-organist pairs awarded the $1,000 grant for the 2019–20 project.

Zach Gulaboff Davis (MM ’19, Music Theory Pedagogy; DMA ’19, Composition) won the American Prize in Composition (vocal chamber music) professional division for his piece Opaque Etchings. FIGMENTS Vol. 2, a follow-up to the successful 2016 album FIGMENTS, features new contemporary solo and chamber ensemble works with compositions by Peter Dayton (MM ’16, Composition), Yuan-Chen Li, Hans Bakker, Navid Bargrizan, and Charles Corey.



See Natalie Draper in Piano Composition Professor Du Yun’s work Give Me Back My Fingerprints, performed by Jennifer Koh, was named one of The New York Times’ 25 Best Classical Music Tracks of 2019. In December, master’s composition student Bobby Ge set original paintings of nine local artists to music in a nine-movement Pierrot suite. Attendees at the Enoch Pratt Central Library had the opportunity to listen and experience

Assistant Professor of Composition Felipe Lara’s large-scale work Fringes had its Chicago premiere at Northwestern University’s Ryan Center by the Northwestern Contemporary Music Ensemble led by Ben Bolter in October. His piece Ó was also premiered with the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra and Choir who commissioned the piece in September.




Doctoral candidate Adam O’Dell, composition, had his piece, Reflections, premiered in the U.S. by the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra in Dubuque, Iowa, in October. Sun-Young “Sunny” Park (DMA ’19, Composition) is the director of the South Korean section of the Asia-America New Music Institute, which announced its first composition competition, Passing the Torch. The winner will join AANMI on an all-expenses-paid concert tour of Japan featuring their piece in some of Japan’s most prominent cultural sites and concert halls. See Kurt Rohde in Strings See David Smooke in Piano

C O ND UC TIN G The inaugural International Florence Price Festival has been announced with Jordan Randall Smith (’14, Conducting), Daniel Sampson (MM ’19, Voice), and Jonathan T. Rush (MM ’19, Conducting) among its leaders. The festival is the first annual classical music festival in the United States named after a woman of color and will feature lectures and panels on the significance of Price and her contemporaries, as well as recitals of her music. The festival is slated for August 20–23, 2020, at the University of Maryland and in the Washington, D.C., region. Nu Deco Ensemble, founded by Jacomo Bairos (GPD ’11, Conducting), released its first single, “Honeybody” featuring Kishi Bashi. Bairos also made his debut with the Cincinnati Pops in October.

Todd Craven (GPD ’18, Conducting) won the top prize in the Los Angeles Conducting Competition in June. He will conduct in a concert in Brazil with the Sinfonica de Goias as a part of his prize. A book by Peter Folliard (MM ’09, Conducting) titled The Bach Initiative was published by GIA Music. To accompany the book, Folliard wrote a blog post about the book’s origins. Master’s candidates Roger Wu Fu, conducting, and Bobby Ge, composition, received a Dean’s Incentive Grant to produce Yappie: A Musical Comedy, which was workshopped at Peabody in October. Jordan Randall Smith (’14, Conducting) has received the second-place award by The American Prize for his work conducting Symphony Number One, a Baltimorebased chamber orchestra. Symphony Number One, which was founded by Smith, was also named the 2019 grand prize winner of The American Prize in Orchestral Performance.

From our stage to your screen. Peabody livestreams select events so you can always attend, wherever you are. Watch at:

Upcoming livestreams include: Peabody Symphony Orchestra Joseph Young, conductor Thursday, April 30 at 7:30 pm

Peabody Symphony Orchestra Peabody Singers Peabody-Hopkins Chorus Edward Polochick, conductor Saturday, May 9 at 7:30 pm





See Ronn McFarlane in Historical Performance Junior Ruben Portillo, guitar, represented the Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation as a Scholarship Ambassador at its Latin Person of the Year Gala in Las Vegas in November, as part of the festivities of the 20th anniversary of the Latin Grammy Awards. In addition to this honor, Portillo has been selected as one of four people to be granted a 2019 Tuition Assistance Scholarship of up to $10,000 by the collaboration of LGCF and Pepsi.

Sophomore Constance Ui-Seng Francois, dance, made her Broadway debut in the ensemble of West Side Story’s revival in February in New York City. This is the first reimagining of the show since the original.

G U I TAR Professor Manuel Barrueco (BM ’75, Guitar) is featured on a new release of Villa-Lobos concertos and chamber works with Giancarlo Guerrero conducting the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra. Barrueco also appeared in episode three of PBS’s Now Hear This, a show that strives to inspire a new generation of classical music lovers, in October. He also released a new transcription, Enrique Granados’ Spanish Dances, Op. 37, Dance Nos. 1, 3, 4, 5, and 12 on Tonar Music. See also Manuel Barrueco in Headliners Faculty artists Manuel Barrueco (BM ’75, Guitar) and Tony Arnold, vocal studies, served as mentors for a residency, A Bard Meets a Guitar, at Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music in Booneville, Calif., in November. Peabody students from both Barrueco’s and Arnold’s studios worked with composers selected by Gabriela Lena Frank on creating six new works for guitar and voice, in various formats. The second part of the residency will take place at the Peabody Conservatory on April 4–6 and will conclude with a concert of the world premieres on April 7. Ben Lougheed (BM ’13, Guitar) has released his first album, Baroque Legacies. The recording includes works by Bach, Scarlatti, Handel, Barrios, Asencio, and Giuliani.

David William Ross (MM ’08, GPD ’10, Guitar), a classical and jazz guitarist, has released Amor Fati, an album of solo guitar works by Akira Nakada, Astor Piazzolla, Frank Wallace, and Leo Brouwer on Ravello Records.

H A RP Anastasia Pike (MM ’07, Harp), a former student of Jeanne Chalifoux, performed a concert with actor and director LeVar Burton. She also performed with her students at the 107th Annual First Lady’s Luncheon. See Michaela Trnkova in Preparatory

H I STO RI CA L PERF O RM A N C E The Baltimore Consort — featuring Mark Cudek (MM ’82, Lute), Ronn McFarlane (MM ’79, Guitar), and Mindy Rosenfeld (BM ’80, Flute) — released a new album, The Food of Love, in August. This was their first release on a commercial label in 10 years.

JA ZZ Alex Fournier (GPD ’16, Jazz) released a premiere recording for his sextet Triio that features original music in the jazz/creative idiom. Devin Gray (BM ’06, Jazz Percussion) and his band Rataplan have released the new album Algorhythmica. Conservatory faculty artist and Preparatory alumnus Warren Wolf, vibraphone, and his quartet performed a tribute to Milt Jackson and Bobby Hutcherson at the Umbria Winter Jazz Festival in Orvieto, Italy, in December.

L IB ER A L A RTS Faculty member Robert Carson, liberal arts, published “Susan Sontag: Race, Class, and the Limits of Style” on The American Interest, delving into the leftist icon’s blind spot when it came to race and how it shielded her to the civil rights movement. Faculty member Jelena Runić, liberal arts, published “Between East and West: The Rhetoric of the Self in L2 Student Writing and Implications for the Teaching of Writing,” in the journal Filolog, Vol. 10, No. 19.

O RG A N See Wendy Johnston in Composition

M USIC TH EO RY Assistant Professor Jenine Brown, music theory, was recently published in Music Theory Spectrum for her article “The Perception of Frozen Intervals in Anton Webern’s Concerto for Nine Instruments, Op. 24, Third Movement.” See Benjamin Buchanan in Vocal Studies See Zach Gulaboff Davis in Composition

M USIC O LO GY Associate Professor of Musicology Susan Forscher Weiss, Director of Academic Technology and Instructional Design Joseph Montcalmo, Friedheim Library Archivist Matt Testa, Librarian KirkEvan Billet, Outreach and Instruction Librarian Andrea Copland, and Melissa Wertheimer (MM ’10, Piccolo) presented at the Atlantic Chapter of the Music Library Association’s fall meeting in October at the University of Maryland in College Park. Testa spoke about his work with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra documenting their performance history. Billet spoke about the importance of diversity in score collections. Copland, Weiss, and Montcalmo spoke about Hackathons and how they are beneficial to students. Weiss spoke with other colleagues about the relationship between professors, librarians, and students in music education.




P E RCU S SION Sō Percussion, with Eric Cha-Beach (BM ’04, GPD ’05, Percussion), presented a program called “A Percussion Century,” featuring works by Varèse, Cage, and Reich along with 21st-century music written expressly for this ensemble, at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall in December. David Degge (MM ’13, Percussion) and several other percussionists also joined the group for this concert.

P IA NO Chad R. Bowles (MM ’05, GPD ’07, Piano), chair of the Preparatory’s Piano Department, was inducted into the Steinway and Sons Teacher Hall of Fame and was honored for his dedication to teaching and inspiring students in their study of piano music at the historic Steinway New York Factory in October. Jennifer Nicole Campbell (BM ’14, MM ’15, Piano) led the Young Composers Workshop at the Brandywine River Museum of Art in August. She also debuted her composition The Four Seasons

of Delaware County, a 43-minute work, in September. The composition follows the traditions of Antonio Vivaldi in his masterpiece The Four Seasons. Faculty artist Brian Ganz (AD ’93, Piano) presented a recital at the Kennedy Center in collaboration with Steinway Pianos in November. The program featured a special duet with Ganz having prerecorded one of the parts from Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite, which Ganz played in a demonstration of the newest piano from Steinway, the Spirio, a piano that can be used for live recording and playback. Jenny Lin (KSAS BA ’94, German; AD ’98, Piano) has teamed up with composer collective ICEBERG New Music to release the album The Etudes Project, Volume One: ICEBERG, a collection of 20 concert etudes including 10 new works by the composers of ICEBERG. Lin and fellow pianist Adam Tendler presented Liszt’s complete Poetic and Religious Harmonies in September at the catacombs of Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, N.Y., with the organization Death of Classical.

Doctoral candidate Ching-Yi Lin (MM ’18, Piano) won third prize in the Fifth Marbella International Music Competition in Málaga, Spain. He has won the opportunity to perform a recital in Spain next year and a cash prize. Lin is in the studio of Alexander Shtarkman. See Matthew Odell in Woodwinds Doctoral candidate Sun-A Park, piano, released a CD, Clementi: Keyboard Sonatas, Opp. 2, 7, 9, and 12, on Naxos. Doctoral candidate Tomasz Robak (MM ’15, Piano) has been appointed to the music faculty at Davidson College as full-time artist associate in accompanying. He is serving as choral, vocal, and instrumental accompanist for Davidson’s Music Department.

A new CD by Ronaldo Rolim (BM ’10, MM ’11, AD ’14, Piano), Szymanowski — The Wartime Triptychs, was released on Odrarek Records. In a trailer accompanying the album, Rolim follows in the composer’s footsteps through Sicily.

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Robert Sacks (BM ’81, Piano) participated in several recent performances honoring the memory of his teacher, Walter Hautzig, with whom he studied at Peabody from 1977 to 1981. The first was an all-Schubert program in Naperville, Ill. In addition, he appeared on the Classically Alive music series in Colorado Springs, Colo., in August, presenting another all-Schubert program with collaborator Abe Minzer (MM ’78, Piano). Andrea Edith Moore (BM ’01, Voice) and Ryan De Ryke (MM ’02, AD ’04, Voice) joined Daniel Schlosberg (BM ’00, MM ’01, Piano; KSAS BA ’00, History) for the 10th anniversary of the Baltimore Lieder Weekend in October.

Michael Sheppard (BM ’98, MM ’00, GPD ’03, Piano) recently released a new album, Twelve Images: Prompted Improvisation for Piano on Bear Machine Records. The album is the first collection of the 80 different improvisations that Sheppard played over four days while working with Bear Machine.

P RE PA R ATO RY See Chad R. Bowles in Piano Jonathan MacKrell, a member of the Peabody Children’s Chorus, performed The Snowman by Howard Blake with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra on December 7 as part of their Holidays with the BSO series.


Preparatory voice student Grace Null performed as a soloist in Maryland Opera’s “Opera in the Park” event in August, part of Mount Vernon Place Conservancy’s Summer in the Squares concert series. She studies at Peabody Preparatory with Madeleine Gray and is also a member of Peabody Children’s Chorus.

Young-Ah Tak (DMA ’13, Piano) released her Beethoven CD on the Steinway and Sons label in November. Her recording of Appassionata was also featured on Steinway’s Spirio Highlight last October. Rosemary Tuck (MM ’86, Piano) and the English Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Richard Bonynge, have released a world premiere recording of Czerny’s Second Grand Concerto in E-flat major. The recording also includes premiere recordings of Concertino, Op. 210/13, and Rondino sur un Theme favori de l’Opera ‘Le Macon’ by d’Aube. Active Listening, a project by doctoral candidate Lior Willinger (BM ’14, MM ’16, Piano), has found a home on I CARE IF YOU LISTEN, an award-winning blog and digital magazine. The series features faculty artists David Smooke (MM ’95, Composition), Judah Adashi (MM ’02, DMA ’11, Composition), and Wendel Patrick, and alumnae Ledah Finck (BM ’16, Violin; MM ’18, Violin, Composition), Frances Pollock (MM ’15, Voice), and Natalie Draper (DMA ’17, Composition). The featured compositions were premiered in live performances last fall in New York City and at Peabody. Sophomore Victoria Frances Young, piano, participated in the Piano Concerto Festival in Budapest, Hungary, in July. She tied for first place, the orchestra special prize, and was the only one invited back to perform a concert with the Danube Symphony Orchestra in Budapest next season.

See Kristen Toedtman in Vocal Studies Preparatory faculty artist Michaela Trnkova (BM ’97, MM ’99, Harp) and the Peabody Preparatory Harp Ensemble performed at the 13th American Harp Society Summer Institute in WinstonSalem, N.C., in June. They also performed Marcel Grandjany’s Aria with The Catholic University Harps and The Catholic University Symphony Orchestra in November in Washington, D.C. This was the first performance of this piece with 11 harps in the United States. Preparatory student Rory Powell, who is a student of Michaela Trnkova, attended Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan this summer. Powell was the principal harpist for the Interlochen Philharmonic and moved up to be principal harpist of Interlochen’s top orchestra, the World Youth Symphony Orchestra. See Warren Wolf in Jazz Andy Yoon, a Preparatory piano student of Hyun-Sook Park and a member of the Preparatory Piano Academy, received first place in his age category for the 2019 SONE International Young Soloists Competition. He was a featured performer at Carnegie Hall on December 12.

RE C ORD IN G A RTS Faculty artists Wendel Patrick, recording arts, and beatboxer Shodekeh, a BFA Dance musician, were featured soloists and collaborators in Abakan and Kyzyl, Russia, to celebrate the Alash Ensemble’s 20th anniversary. Shodekeh performed with Alash, masters of Tuvan throat singing, on a Smithsonian Folkways Recording, Achai. PEABODY



Senior David Sexton, recording arts, and MA candidate Peng Huang, audio sciences, were two of the four finalists at the 2019 Audio Engineering Society’s Student Recording Competition in the Traditional Acoustic Recording category. Sexton received the Silver Award, while Huang received an Honorable Mention.

Faculty artist Amit Peled, cello, was appointed the music director for CityMusic Cleveland. Peled conducted the first concerts of their 2019–20 season in October. Kurt Rohde (BM ’86, Viola, Composition) was appointed the artistic director of the Composers Conference. Rohde is currently professor of music composition and theory at UC Davis and is a founding member, violist, and artistic adviser with the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble.

ST R IN GS Viacheslav Dinerchtein (MM ’99, GPD ’01, Viola; GPD ’02, Chamber Music) was nominated for the International Classical Music Award 2020 for his recording of the Complete Sonatas for Solo Viola by Mieczysław Weinberg. Professor Herbert Greenberg, violin, performed as concertmaster and solo violinist for “Hours of Freedom: The Story of the Terezín Composer” in Budapest in November and Atlanta in December. The concert, created and conducted by Murry Sidlin (BM ’62, Music Education; MM ’68, Instrumental Conducting), showcases music by 15 composers imprisoned in the Theresienstadt (Terezín) concentration camp during World War II.

Freshman violist Magy Hernandez, one of the first recipients of a new El Sistema USA/Peabody Scholarship and an alumna of the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, participated in a panel discussion about the El Sistema movement in the United States in September at the Kennedy Center.

Professor and Chair of the Strings Department Alan Stepansky, cello, will be a teaching artist for Music Academy of the West’s Summer Festival from June 15 to August 8 in Santa Barbara, Calif. He will be working with the cello, orchestral studies, and chamber music divisions of the strings department.

See Ledah Finck in Piano

What do you pay attention to? Artist Candice Breitz uses multichannel video installations to examine privilege, visibility, and shrinking attention spans in an information economy that fetishizes celebrity and thrives on entertainment. TICKETS AT ARTBMA.ORG/TLDR MARCH 15—JULY 12, 2020

THE BALTIMORE MUSEUM OF ART This exhibition is generously sponsored by The Alvin and Fanny B. Thalheimer Exhibition Endowment Fund and The Hardiman Family Endowment Fund. Candice Breitz. Still from TLDR. 2017. Featured: Gabbi, Emmah, Jowi, Connie, and Nosipho Vidima. Courtesy of Goodman Gallery (London), Kaufmann Repetto (New York) + KOW (Berlin).




Sarah Thomas (BM ’17, MM ’19, Violin) has completed her research into the Peabody Institute’s historical relationship with African American musicians and students, resulting in a paper and online exhibit. Thomas was awarded a Hugh Hawkins Research fellowship for the Study of Hopkins History to aid in this work. She was the first Peabody student to be selected for the universitywide research grant. Lan Zhang (BM ’17, Viola) won a section position in the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra last fall.


Jacob Bowman (BM ’18, Voice), a former student of Stanley Cornett, won first place in the Jerusalem Lyric Opera Studio’s International Opera Competition last summer. Bowman, who is a master’s student at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, also participated in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions for 2019–20 in the San Francisco district and received an Encouragement Award in October. This summer, voice master’s student Miranda Brugman, Thomas Swain (BM ’19, Voice), and Benjamin Buchanan (MM ’14, Composition; MM ’15, Theory Pedagogy) traveled to Haiti to teach at a summer music camp run by Holy Trinity Music School. In their time there, they directed the choir and taught private lessons. See Ryan De Ryke in Piano Associate Professor Ah Young Hong (BM ’98, MM ’01, Voice) will direct and perform in Cantata Profana’s production of On the Threshold of Winter by Professor Michael Hersch (BM ’95, MM ’97, Composition). The performances are slated for April 16–18, 2020, at Irondale in Brooklyn, New York. Samantha Hornback (MM ’19, Voice) was a Young Artist with Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre in January. She performed as the soprano lead/Lover in Anna Young’s The Enchanted Forest, a “choose-your-own-adventure” opera for children where those in the audience get to decide the plot of the show. Hornback was also part of the chorus in their mainstage opera performance of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.

Tariq Al-Sabir (BM ’15, Voice) premiered #UNWANTED, a multimedia, genre-bending song cycle focusing on black people’s navigation through the digital realm, at The Shed in New York in June. His works were also featured in the opening concert of the Evolution Contemporary Music Series, founded by Judah Adashi (MM ’02, DMA ’11, Composition), in October. See Tony Arnold in Guitar

Baritone Rob McGinness (MM ’17, Voice) received positive reviews for his role in Teatro Nuovo’s production of La Gazza Ladra by Rossini and made his debut with Arizona Opera in September as Frank Lloyd Wright in Shining Brow. McGinness also held a successful concert celebrating the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, where he raised $500 for the Challenger Center. See Andrea Edith Moore in Piano In October, Outcalls — Britt OlsenEcker (BM ’09, Voice) and Melissa Wimbish (GPD ’11, Voice; GPD ’14, Chamber Ensemble) — performed in their “Nothing Will Go Wrong” tour in California. See Frances Pollock in Piano


Michael Stepniak (MM ’98, GPD ’99, Viola), dean of the Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, Va., has had his book Beyond the Conservatory Model: Reimagining Classical Music Performance Training in Higher Education published by Routledge. The book explores the modern classical music scene and the challenges faced by recent graduates, and asks big questions about how higher education can and should prepare musicians for these new realities.

Kristen Toedtman (MM ’98, Voice), who directs the Preparatory’s Community Chorus of Peabody, made her Carnegie Hall debut last May performing with the New World Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas on his piece 3 Preludes on Playthings of the Wind. In 2019, Toedtman also made her LA Philharmonic premiere as one of the three Sirens in John Adams’ Grand Pianola Music with the composer conducting.

WO O DW IN DS Melanie S. Keller (BM ’99, Flute) along with her ensemble Tree City Chamber Players has received a $2,000 2019 grant from the Boise City Department of Arts and History as part of the Boise Composers Commission Project. The group will use the funds to commission three Idaho composers to each write a piece for the ensemble, which will be premiered in May 2020 on an Idahothemed program. Leslie Neighbor Stroud (BM ’84, Flute) and Matthew Odell (MM ’03, GPD ’05, Piano) recently released Sonatas for Flute and Piano by Gary Schocker on Centaur Records. See Mindy Rosenfeld in Historical Performance See Melissa Wertheimer in Musicology

IN MEMORIAM Priscilla Filos (TC ’60, BM ’61, MM ’62, Piano)

See Daniel Sampson in Conducting PEABODY



FANFARE The Path to Possibility




Founded in 2007, the Tuned-In program serves students in economically challenged areas of West and East Baltimore. It was formed alongside the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids — a schoolbased program for children in pre-K through 10th grade — in response to the need for a secondary music program for students who have already had some music education, either through OrchKids or another program. Tuned-In provides private lessons, theory classes, and opportunities to be part of ensembles to 80 to 100 students each year, many of whom have gone on to attend music conservatories or higher-level music education programs. Under the grant, Tuned-In will initially provide expanded services to 10 high school students to further set them up for success. A new program coordinator will provide a holistic support system for these students by curating their music education experience, assisting with academics, preparing them for auditions, and working with their families to help them understand the application and audition process for collegiate-level

music programs. “The grant is going to enhance what we already do for high school students by offering a more holistic focus for those students who are potentially identified as being on that pre-conservatory track,” Mathieson says. These students will also have the opportunity to participate in enriching group experiences with their peers who are part of the BWMP initiative in Washington, D.C. Although the programs in the two cities will essentially operate independently, students will come together twice a year — once in Baltimore and once in D.C. — for special events. The Baltimore experience will likely involve the opportunity to play alongside the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra or Peabody Conservatory students. Mathieson says that providing more holistic services for this group of students could lead them to envision brighter futures. “It’s going to provide an enriching experience for students who maybe never thought that music would be a possibility,” Mathieson says. “Tuned-In really makes that a reality for them.” —  Jennifer Walker

The Peabody Preparatory's Tuned-In program will expand under a new partnership called the Baltimore-Washington Musical Pathways initiative.


American orchestras have remained relatively homogenous throughout their existence. Today, people who identify as African American and Hispanic/Latinx account for only 2.8% of the musicians in large orchestras and 6.2% of the musicians in smaller orchestras, according to the most recent study from the League of American Orchestras. These numbers have not changed significantly over the previous decade. Thanks to a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Peabody is poised to become a leader in changing that. To begin to lay the groundwork for change, the Peabody Preparatory is part of a unique regional partnership called the BaltimoreWashington Musical Pathways initiative, which also encompasses several organizations in Washington, D.C., including the DC Youth Orchestra Program, Levine Music, and The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the National Symphony Orchestra. The BWMP partnership has received funding from the Mellon Foundation to transform the field of classical music, making Baltimore and Washington, D.C., two of five cities where the foundation is funding this work. (The three other cities are Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia.) Peabody’s grant will support musically gifted but underserved students who are part of the Preparatory’s Tuned-In program, which offers full scholarships to musically talented Baltimore City youth. “The real focus of the grant is changing the face of American orchestras to be more reflective of society,” says Maria Mathieson, director of the Peabody Preparatory. “At the moment, it’s focusing on high school–aged students who are really showing potential and who need to jump to the next level to get into the conservatory programs and highlevel music programs. And hopefully, they will eventually change what American orchestras look like.”

Nancy Bisco (BM ’63, Viola) was drawn to classical music from an early age. She spent her childhood days listening to the Metropolitan Opera station on the radio and singing the opera Carmen in fractured French. “There was just something I felt inside when I listened to classical music,” she says today. “It became a passion for me.” When she was 10 years old and able to take music lessons at school, Bisco began playing the violin. She progressed to private lessons and dreamed of playing in a symphony. As a high school student, she came to the Peabody Preparatory to advance her violin studies. There, she was exposed to dedicated, aspiring musicians and gained confidence by performing in recitals — experiences that greatly influenced her decision to continue her education with the Peabody Conservatory, where she transitioned to playing the viola. After graduation, Bisco’s dream came true: She played the viola with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for five years. Bisco is grateful to Peabody for helping her achieve her dream, so much so that she has consistently made philanthropic gifts to the Conservatory annually for 32 years. “Peabody gave me the opportunity to play in the symphony, which was my dream for most of my life,” she says. “That was something I had to accomplish, and Peabody obviously helped me toward that.” As a Peabody student, Bisco had her first experiences with the BSO when she was chosen to play with the Conductors’ Forum, an initiative that brought young conductors to Baltimore to practice with the orchestra. She also won a scholarship to travel to Puerto Rico and play the violin with the Congress of Strings. While there, she was asked to join a string quartet and play the viola, which she had never played before. “I fell absolutely in love with the sound,” she says. From then on, the viola was her instrument.


Realizing a Dream

Peabody graduating class of 1963; Nancy Bisco (née Blacklock), second row, third from left

After leaving Peabody, Bisco played with the BSO until 1968. She then moved to Chicago with her then husband, where she had her daughter and worked as a freelance musician. In 1973, she came back to Maryland and worked full time in an administrative position. Bisco continued to perform, playing the viola at church services, weddings, and other events with Quartette des Amis for 24 years, from 1980 to 2004. Although Bisco, who lives in Baltimore County, doesn’t perform anymore, her love of music has remained her constant throughout her life. She has continued to support Peabody financially because the education and opportunities she received helped her achieve a career in music she loves for more than 40 years. “If it hadn’t been for Peabody, I don’t know where I would be today,” she says. —  Jennifer Walker


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STUDENT SPOTLIGHT Giving Students a Voice

When did you first become passionate about singing? Actually, I first studied the piano, trumpet, and cello before getting involved in singing when I was in high school. I became a member of the Berks Opera Company in Reading, Pennsylvania, where I performed with soprano Jennifer Beck and tenor James Valenti. Then I studied music education at Temple University for two years before coming to Peabody to continue my voice training. The accelerated program will allow me to gather the skills needed to begin to navigate the real world with a jump start. Why did you choose to study vocal performance? To me, it was easier to relate emotionally to singing. When the composer or the librettist or the poet writes texts that are set to music, it’s all the more special and easier to connect to. I also enjoyed the collaborative work of being on the stage and interacting with other people and feeding off of that. Your voice studies keep you busy, most recently last fall when you played the role of Mr. Darcy in the Peabody Opera Theatre’s production of Pride and Prejudice. Why did you decide to get involved with the Peabody General Assembly? I was involved in student government and leadership in high school and when I was at Temple. So, last year, I decided to see if I could help bring the PGA back and make it a strong presence on campus. The 36




CJ Hartung is a senior in the fiveyear Bachelor of Music/Master of Music in voice program and also serves as president of the Peabody General Assembly, a student group he has reignited into a thriving organization that is focused on improving the student experience. We talked to Hartung about his path to Peabody, his musical studies, and his motivations for leading the PGA.

PGA is a great outlet for the student body to have consistent and transparent conversations with Dean Fred Bronstein, and we were missing that. So, I grabbed some of the strongest personalities on campus that I know and asked if they wanted to get involved. We held elections at the end of February of 2018, and I created the executive branch and four focus group committees: diversity and inclusion, academics and faculty correspondence, student services, and student engagement and traditions. Each committee has two co-chairs, so essentially, we created eight positions for students who were interested in getting involved. What are some of the assembly’s activities? We had talked about a lack of student engagement and activities on campus, so last year we held what we hope will become a recurring event called Peabody Palooza. We had food, T-shirt giveaways, games, and music, and it was a way for everybody to celebrate the end of the school year. We also implemented five Pick-Me-Ups for students last year, including fortune cookie giveaways and an opportunity to interact with therapy dogs on campus. Our diversity and inclusion group brought in a pilot training work group to talk about microaggressions and microtriggers. We’ve been working with staff to spruce up the appearance of the school from the

inside, and we’ve had conversations with Paul Mathews, associate dean for academic affairs, about anything that has to do with our academic experience. And we’ve grown our student organizations from five to 14, which we’re really excited about because we’re seeing a better representation of cultures, identities, and interest groups on campus. Why is the PGA important to the student experience and the Peabody community? The PGA is our largest means of student voice and activism on campus. When we can sit down and have meaningful conversations and make positive changes or creations together, we can improve the experience for everybody at Peabody. [It’s] also important for students to understand in their lives going forward that good leadership leads to good results. What’s next for the PGA? This year, we expanded our committee from eight people to 16 people because we added new positions, including a cross-campus liaison to better connect students at the Peabody and the Homewood campuses. The more opportunity we have to interact with like-minded people and people who are different from us, the more we have to bring to the performing arts. So, we’re hoping to continue to grow those kinds of connections.

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