Reporting by Margaret Bell, Sue De Pasquale, and Tiffany Lundquist
History was made 40 years ago, when the Peabody Conservatory officially affiliated with Johns Hopkins University, greatly enriching the impact of both institutions and creating exciting new opportunities for students and faculty. To celebrate the anniversary of this partnership, we bring you an A to Z guide that highlights the myriad ways Peabody, Johns Hopkins, and the world have benefited from the unique union forged four decades ago.
A is for Affiliation:
Upon the inauguration of Daniel Coit Gilman as the first president of the Johns Hopkins University in 1876, the Peabody Board of Trustees adopted a resolution proposing an affiliation between the two institutions at the earliest possible time. It took more than 100 years — and ultimately was the work of Johns Hopkins President Steven Muller, who broached the idea of affiliation after Peabody Director Richard Franko Goldman went public with news of the institute’s dire financial situation. In July 1977, the university agreed to take over day-to-day administration of Peabody and throw its significant weight behind fundraising efforts for the school. Peabody faculty became faculty of Johns Hopkins, and all Conservatory students became Hopkins students “with the same rights, privileges, and services.” An editorial in The Baltimore Sun concluded, “The Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University will be a name of which both institutions can be proud.”
B is for Baltimore Scholars:
The Johns Hopkins program, established in 2004, recognizes high-achieving Baltimore City public school graduates with full-tuition scholarships. In 2016, the program expanded to include room and board and other fees. To date, some 25 students have attended Peabody under the Baltimore Scholars program.
C is for Community:
In his Ten by Twenty Strategic Vision for the university, Johns Hopkins President Ronald J. Daniels prioritizes “Commitment to Our Communities,” with the goal of making Johns Hopkins the “exemplar of a globally engaged, urban university.” Similarly, Peabody Dean Fred Bronstein highlights community connectivity as one of the Four Pillars of the Breakthrough Plan for Peabody and a critical component of the training of 21st-century artists. This shared priority is being realized across greater Baltimore through a variety of programs and initiatives including: HopkinsLocal, Peabody Pop-Ups, and the revitalization of the Station North Arts and Entertainment District.
D is for Double Degree:
Each year a handful of enterprising students pursue both a Bachelor of Music degree from Peabody and either a BA degree from the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences or a BS degree from the Whiting School of Engineering. It’s a rigorous road — combining the daily practice regimen of a Conservatory student and the high academic expectations of Johns Hopkins — and only three to five students decide to follow this path annually.
E is for Excellence:
One of the Four Pillars of Peabody’s Breakthrough Plan as articulated by Dean Fred Bronstein (the other pillars are Interdisciplinary Experiences, Innovation, and Community Connectivity), excellence lies at the core of the mission of both Peabody and Johns Hopkins University. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding: in the seemingly endless stream of alumni who go on to be leaders in their fields; in the renowned prizes and honors (think: Nobel, Grammy, Pulitzer, Fulbright) earned by faculty; and by the young people who distinguish themselves — even while students — by advancing discovery and creativity at the highest levels.
F is for Frontier Award:
Launched in 2015 by Johns Hopkins President Daniels, the President’s Frontier Award provides $250,000 in funding to help one faculty member each year move forward with innovative work. Last January, Peabody composer and pianist Michael Hersch (BM ’95, MM ’97, Composition) — whose groundbreaking work has been performed worldwide — learned that he was the 2017 faculty recipient. “This will be transformative. I’ll be able to do things that were just simply not conceivable without the kind of support that this will allow,” says Hersch, who heads Peabody’s Composition Department and whose first opera, On the Threshold of Winter, is being performed in several U.S. cities this year.
G is for the George Peabody Library:
Formerly the Library of the Peabody Institute of the City of Baltimore, this visually stunning “cathedral of books” opened in 1878 and features more than 300,000 volumes contained in five tiers of ornamental cast iron balconies that rise dramatically to a skylight 61 feet above the floor. Reflecting the scholarly interests of the 19th century, the library consists of a non-circulating general reference collection on virtually every subject — except music. In 1982, the collection transferred to Johns Hopkins University, and today it is part of the Special Collections Department of the
university’s Sheridan Libraries.
H is for the Henderson-Hopkins School:
Johns Hopkins University was instrumental in the creation of Elmer A. Henderson: A Johns Hopkins Partnership School — East Baltimore’s first new public school in more than 20 years — providing funding for construction and operation and managing the day-to-day operations at the school under the auspices of the School of Education. Since 2016, the Henderson-Hopkins School has served as a home base for the Peabody Community Chorus, which brings together adults of all ages and backgrounds to make music.
I is for Interdisciplinary Partnerships:
Collaboration across divisions has taken off at Johns Hopkins, and Peabody faculty are capitalizing on the fruits of cross-divisional teamwork. With funding from a 2016 Johns Hopkins Discovery Award, for example, Peabody’s Sarah Hoover (DMA ’08, Voice), associate dean for innovation, interdisciplinary partnerships, and community initiatives, is working with investigators from the School of Medicine and School of Nursing to examine whether patients and caregivers, singing side by side in organized sessions, can improve quality of life for dementia patients.
J is for Jazz Studies of the Brain:
Double degree students Jonathan Mo, studying saxophone and neuroscience, and Nathaniel McKeever, studying jazz trumpet and materials science and engineering, wondered how preparation with improvisation affects creativity. So, they are using a Peabody Dean’s Incentive Grant to test the hypothesis that jazz musicians given the opportunity to prepare an improvisation would perform significantly differently than those asked to improvise on the spot. Preliminary results of their study are expected this fall.
K is for the Krieger School:
Collaboration between Peabody and the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences gives both institutions an important new presence in Baltimore’s exploding Station North Arts and Entertainment District. Inside the recently renovated Centre Theatre complex (home to the Hopkins-MICA Film Center), Peabody recording arts students work side by side with Krieger School film students in the Sound on Film course. “It’s a great way for students to not only learn their side of the craft but also experience what the other roles involve,” says Scott Metcalfe, director of Peabody’s Recording Arts and Sciences program, now housed in the new complex. “There’s no other university that has this capacity with recording arts, composition, and film,” says Hollis Robbins (KSAS BA ’83, Writing Seminars), Peabody Liberal Arts Department faculty member.
L is for Leon Fleisher:
This luminary faculty artist, conductor, and pianist has been a part of the Peabody community for more than 50 years. As a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2007, he was recognized as a “consummate musician whose career is a testament to the life-affirming power of art.” In 2015, in recognition of his artistic and academic accomplishments, Fleisher was awarded an honorary degree from Johns Hopkins.
M is for Music for New Media:
Building on its historical strengths in Composition and Recording Arts and the wide spectrum of potential collaborations possible across Johns Hopkins disciplines, Peabody recently launched a Music for New Media degree program, which will prepare students to compose and produce music for computer games, virtual and augmented reality, and other emerging platforms.
N is for New Music:
Johns Hopkins resources and relationships help create an environment at Peabody where new music thrives. The university’s Catalyst awards, which provide funding to early career faculty innovators, have supported both Peabody composer Kevin Puts’ 2015 work The City (Symphony No. 5), co-commissioned by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Carnegie Hall, and composition faculty member Oscar Bettison’s forthcoming violin concerto for faculty artist Courtney Orlando and her group Alarm Will Sound! When the Applied Physics Lab was planning its 75th anniversary celebrations, Kok Jun Phang (MM ’17, Composition) was selected through a Peabody student composition competition to write the soundtrack for a commemorative video.
O is for Octopodes:
Johns Hopkins’ oldest a cappella group exemplifies Peabody student involvement and impact in the Homewood musical community. Peabody students who have recently performed in the contemporary music singing group include its board members Nicholas Bentz, Kasey Cwynar-Foye, Jonathan Mo, and Kahler Suzuki. Another Homewood-based performance group, the Hopkins Symphony Orchestra, is led by Peabody alumnus Jed Gaylin (DMA ’95, Conducting), and Homewood students regularly perform in the Peabody-Hopkins Chorus.
P is for Peabody at Homewood:
Established in 2004, Peabody at Homewood is a center at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, led by Stephen Stone (MM ’99, DMA ’03, Composition), which offers a music minor taught entirely by Peabody faculty members. Faculty offer a variety of musicology and music theory courses on the Homewood campus. Music is one of the most enrolled minors in the Hopkins undergraduate schools.
Q is for Quartet:
While quartets of all kinds abound at the Conservatory, this particular foursome is not rooted in music but instead in philanthropy — philanthropy that dates back a century before Peabody’s 1977 affiliation. Johns Hopkins, George Peabody, Enoch Pratt, and William Walters were contemporaries and founders in the latter part of the 19th century of Baltimore’s major cultural and educational institutions. Today their namesakes — Johns Hopkins University, the Peabody Institute, Enoch Pratt Free Library, and the Walters Art Museum — continue to thrive as anchors of cultural life in Baltimore.
R is for Rising to the Challenge Campaign:
The $5 billion, university-wide fundraising campaign, launched in 2013, supports faculty, students, and clinicians across all of Johns Hopkins’ schools and divisions. To date, Peabody has raised more than half of its $75 million campaign goal to support scholarships, fellowships, faculty chairs, technological innovation, and community outreach.
S is for Scholar:
In 2011, Peabody musicologist Andrew Talle, a renowned Bach expert and accomplished cellist, was chosen as one of the 17 inaugural Gilman Scholars, named for Johns Hopkins’ first president, who was interested in promoting the highest standards of scholarship and research in the sciences and in the humanities. Talle’s extensive research in Leipzig, Germany, on the influence that harpsichord and organ playing had on 18th-century social life, is captured in his recent book Beyond Bach: Music and Everyday Life in the Eighteenth Century.
T is for Technology:
Peabody ventured into the world of technology transfer with its first patent in January 2017, thanks to help from Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures. The Peabody SmartInstrument Series (PSI Series), developed by faculty artist Serap Bastepe-Gray (BM ’96, MM ’99, Guitar), is designed to measure how much force the fingers apply to the fingerboard or fretboard. In addition, faculty members Ken Johansen (MM ’89, Piano) and Travis Hardaway received a grant from the Center for Educational Resources’ Technology Fellowship Program in 2012. Their ReadAhead app, now available in the AppStore, helps students become more fluent sight-readers.
U is for Undergraduate Research:
For Peabody undergraduates, close ties with a major research university like Johns Hopkins open doors for funded investigations. Ben Swartz (KSAS BA ’12, MA ’12, History; BM ’12, Cello), for example, broke new ground in historical musicology, thanks to funding from a Woodrow Wilson Undergraduate Research Fellowship. Today Swartz tours (with a trio and Les Enfants d’Orphée) and teaches at the Community Music Center of Boston, where he passes along the rare expertise his fellowship gave him in historically informed performance practice.
V is for Venues:
Thanks to Peabody’s connection to Johns Hopkins’ vast enterprise, student and alumni musicians get the opportunity to perform for audiences beyond Mt. Vernon. Through the Music on the Mezzanine Concert Series at the Carey Business School in Harbor East, for instance, Peabody musicians present late afternoon concerts several times a semester. The same series has brought student/alumni groups, such as the Atlas String Quartet, to concertize at Johns Hopkins’ Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. Closer to home, the Jazz at the Hopkins Club concert series has brought top jazz musicians to perform regularly at Homewood.
W is for Whiting School of Engineering:
Through Peabody’s unique, five-year Recording Arts and Sciences program, launched in 1983, students balance rigorous Conservatory music coursework with classes in electrical engineering at the Whiting School. When they finish, they’ve earned a dual degree in music or composition and in recording arts and sciences. (Advanced studies are also available through a master’s program.) Not surprisingly, program grads prove highly employable, earning spots in recording studios, film and video game studios, public radio — and even the oil industry: Katie Walker (MA ’09, Audio Sciences), for example, has used her training in acoustics and recording to detect pipe and drum corrosion for ExxonMobil.
X is for X-Rays and Xylophones:
Baseline screenings for movement- and performance-related disorders will be easily accessible to musicians and dancers at the new Peabody Clinic for Performing Artists, which leverages Peabody’s partnership with School of Medicine clinicians and researchers to make it easier for performing artists to get the specialized health care they need.
Y is for the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music:
The Singapore Minister of Education wanted to add a music conservatory to its National
University of Singapore (NUS) and looked to the strength of a school in a similar circumstance — one part of a larger university. Peabody partnered with NUS to found the conservatory in 2001. Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music opened in 2003 and has quickly established a reputation as the most exciting international conservatory in Asia and one of the most distinctive in the world. In 2011, Peabody and YSTCM announced a joint degree program, the first of its kind, in which students earn degrees from both Peabody and YSTCM. The presidents of the two universities — Ron Daniels of JHU and Tan Chorh Chuan of NUS — signed the joint degree agreement at a ceremony in Carnegie Hall.
Z is for Zuill Bailey:
Alumni A to Z with Peabody Conservatory diplomas have made their alma mater proud for more than 150 years and, for the last 40 years, those diplomas have also read Johns Hopkins University. Bailey (BM ’94, Cello) represents his fellow alumni well, having recently won two Grammy awards for a recording with the Nashville Symphony and recognition in 2014 from Hopkins with the JHU Distinguished Alumni Award.