Last Thursday, Peabody’s annual Convocation kicked off our academic year – a little later than usual. Delayed by two weeks, Convocation was rescheduled because of the renovations to Miriam A. Friedberg Concert Hall. Having that new concert hall smell, this marked the first public event in the newly renovated hall.
Artist diploma candidate and alumnus Meng Su, who was recently chosen as an artist to watch by The Baltimore Sun’s Tim Smith, opened the event with Sergio Assad’s calming and mellow Aquarelle.
After Senior Associate Dean of Institute Studies Abra Bush introduced new faculty, junior bassist Alec Kipnes, chair of the new Peabody General Assembly, spoke about how we “celebrate endings but rarely celebrate beginnings.” He encouraged students, faculty, and staff to “embrace this moment” and “remember the love we have for our craft.”
Senior hornist Zachary Travis, the recipient of the 2015-16 Presser Undergraduate Scholar Award, spoke next about his feelings when he first auditioned and then came to Peabody. He noted that “everyone was excited to perform together and support each other” in a way he hadn’t seen at other conservatories.
Dean Bronstein took the opportunity to welcome everyone to start of the school year. He spoke about the importance of being connected to the larger Baltimore community and the foundation of Peabody as cultural mecca for the region. His advice to the students for 2016-17:
“For now, at this moment in time, what I offer you is this. Practice and make every moment count. But don’t stop there. Be curious; be flexible; learn to innovate and experiment; learn different skills; stretch yourselves; make room for more than you think you have room for.”
Finally, faculty Ah Young Hong, soprano, took the stage with alumnus Michael Sheppard, piano. Ms. Hong stepped forward to speak about her choice of singing John Corigliano’s “Postlude: Forever Young” from Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems of Bob Dylan. She said that she believes it’s a song about hope, but she first heard the piece around the time of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., in 2012. At the time, there was so much hatred and confusion, she said, she could “only make it through because I have music.” She said that she wished the piece could help us all “be a little bit more hopeful for the world.” At the final chorus of:
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.
Ms. Hong was overcome with emotion, as were many in the hall. After Convocation, the Peabody community enjoyed a welcome luncheon on the Plaza, hosted by the Dean’s Office.