Convocation 2016: Zachary Travis

Good afternoon,

I would like to extend my welcome to the faculty, staff, students, and guests joining us this afternoon. I am speaking to you today not only as this year’s Presser Award scholar, but also as an individual within the unique and astonishing community here at Peabody.

Throughout my studies and experiences at this institution, I have been constantly aware of the supportive and high achieving community that has been built by the renowned faculty and talented students.  I have witnessed and personally benefitted from numerous instances of close cooperation and constructive support from colleagues on a daily basis, and I attribute much of my personal success to these outstanding surrounds. This spirit of collaboration and cooperative learning is both the most outstanding aspect of the Peabody and its strongest asset.

I would like to begin by recalling a memory of the first time I was introduced to this astonishing environment. During a visit to this campus in the spring before I began my studies here, I attended a graduate recital to meet my future colleagues. The program was performed phenomenally, but the moment that stood out most to me was the final piece on the program for which the majority of my future studio walked onto the stage to perform an ensemble piece. Watching them get into position while smiling and laughing quietly to each other gave me the impression that everyone on the stage was excited to play together and happy to support their colleague during her final graduate recital. After their excellent performance I got the opportunity to meet the performers, and I was incredibly pleased to see that the enthusiasm and camaraderie that was present on stage was the same as they congratulated one another. Seeing this support for and the joy taken in each other’s achievements, I didn’t hesitate to make my final decision to come to Peabody.

When I did begin my studies, I found that this particular experience was not an oddity at this institution. Despite our diverse backgrounds, the students of this institution are bound together by their shared experiences over the course of their studies and beyond. Performing in class for colleagues and rehearsing alongside our peers builds a mutual experience of life at Peabody among us all. Additionally, sharing many important moments in our lives together builds an understanding for each other’s goals and efforts. From this position, we offer unconditional support and constructive criticism as we collectively work towards becoming the best musicians, students, and colleagues that we possibly can be.

Within the minutes spent in the practice room to performing as part of new communities, I have personally been aware of the manifestations of this constructive environment. Inspiration from my colleague’s performances has constantly been a personal motivating factor for my practice, and I am certain that this experience is shared, as it is impossible to insulate oneself from outstanding music here at Peabody. Similarly, support for the creative visions of the students and faculty has resulted in the formation of new communities such as our new contemporary music ensemble, Now Hear This, which, in addition to others, continues to enrich the musical experiences of all at Peabody. The support and cooperation fostered in this institution also continues into life beyond Peabody as our colleagues from the recent and distant past continue to inspire us and maintain in the professional sphere the relationships that are established here.

The excellence of the Peabody community extends to every area of focus pursued by this institution, and it is without a doubt it’s greatest strength. All who pass through here experience the benefits of friendly competition and unwavering support, and I implore the current and future students to not only maintain this community but to also work together and alongside visionary leaders like Dean Bronstein to pursue even more ambitious goals. I am incredibly thankful and proud to have been able to contribute to this outstanding institution.

Thank you very much. Welcome to Peabody, and have a very successful year.

-Zachary Travis, Presser Undergraduate Scholar Award for 2015-2016