Deborah Rutter, president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, will address the graduates at the Peabody Conservatory’s Commencement ceremony, which begins at 10:00 am on Wednesday, May 23, in Miriam A. Friedberg Concert Hall. Rutter is considered one of the most influential arts administrators in the nation and respected internationally for her leadership of the world’s busiest performing arts center.
Known for emphasizing collaboration, innovation, and community engagement, Rutter is leading the Kennedy Center in re-imagining ways of presenting the arts in the 21st century through interdisciplinary programming. She introduced a new vision of artist-curated programming across many of the Kennedy Center’s key genres with the appointment of Mason Bates as the Center’s first composer-in-residence, Yo-Yo Ma and Renée Fleming as artistic advisors at large, and Q-Tip as the Center’s first artistic director of hip hop culture.
Rutter’s last visit to Peabody was as the guest speaker for an April 2016 Dean’s Symposium, when she spoke with Peabody Dean Fred Bronstein about expanding access to the performing arts and the role of performing arts organizations in their communities.
The highest honor bestowed by the Peabody Institute, this year’s George Peabody Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Music in America will be awarded to Leon Fleisher, Peabody’s Andrew W. Mellon Chair in Piano, in celebration of his 90th birthday and nearly 60 years on the Conservatory’s faculty. Recognized as a “consummate musician whose career is a testament to the life-affirming power of art,” Fleisher was a 2007 recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors and was the first American to win the prestigious Queen Elisabeth of Belgium Competition in Brussels in 1952. As a teacher, he has carried on a tradition that descends directly from Beethoven himself, handed down generationally through Carl Czerny, Theodor Leschititsky, Artur Schnabel, and Leon Fleisher himself.
The George Peabody Medal has been presented since 1980. Other Peabody Medal winners have included Yo-Yo Ma, Jessye Norman, Kim Kashkashian, Libby Larsen, Isaac Stern, André Watts, and Oscar Peterson.
This year marks the Peabody Conservatory’s 136th graduation exercises, where 67 Bachelor of Music degrees, 126 Master of Music degrees, seven Master of Arts degrees, 40 Graduate Performance Diplomas, two Artist Diplomas, and seven Doctor of Musical Arts degrees are scheduled to be conferred. The ceremony, which begins at 10:00 am on Wednesday, May 23, will be livestreamed at http://www.peabody.jhu.edu/livestream.