The Peabody Post

Rhiannon Giddens, Rakim, Clive Gillinson to Headline Peabody Dean’s Symposium Series

Rhiannon Giddens, Rakim, and Clive Gillinson

Grammy-winning artist Rhiannon Giddens; rapper and Hip-Hop pioneer Rakim; and Clive Gillinson, executive and artistic director of Carnegie Hall, will be the featured guests for the fall 2020 Peabody Dean’s Symposium Series, hosted by Peabody Institute Dean Fred Bronstein. The Dean’s Symposium Series presents innovative artists and thought leaders in the arts in informal conversation with Dean Bronstein about the issues facing performers and presenters today. This fall, all three events will be held online and are free and open to the public.

“The significant challenges facing the performing arts because of the COVID-19 pandemic make these conversations all the more timely and important,” noted Bronstein. “Change has been coming to our industry for some time, and now we have an urgent need and opportunity to be talking about how the arts move forward, about the continued relevance of what we do, and about the creativity and innovation that will ensure a vibrant future for artists and the arts.”

Dean’s Symposiums take place on Wednesdays at 12:30 pm. Bronstein will welcome Rakim on October 7, Giddens on October 21, and Gillinson on November 4. Each event includes a Q&A portion and viewers are encouraged to submit their questions for the featured guests. Event registration information and links will be posted to Peabody’s website in the coming weeks.

Newly appointed artistic director of Silkroad, Rhiannon Giddens is celebrated as an artist who excavates the past to reveal truths about our present. A MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient, Giddens has been nominated six times for a Grammy Award, and won once, for her work with the Carolina Chocolate Drops, a group she co-founded. She was most recently nominated for her 2019 collaboration with multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi, there is no Other, an album that is at once a condemnation of “othering” and a celebration of the spread of ideas, connectivity, and shared experience. She has performed for the Obamas at the White House and acted in two seasons of the television series Nashville. Giddens has been profiled by CBS Sunday Morning, The New York Times, and NPR’s Fresh Air, among other outlets. She is featured in Ken Burns’s Country Music series, which aired on PBS. In 2019, Giddens formed the band Our Native Daughters with three other Black female banjo players and contributed to and produced their album Songs of Our Native Daughters, which tells stories of historic Black womanhood and survival. Smithsonian Magazine calls her “an electrifying artist who brings alive the memories of forgotten predecessors, white and Black.”

Considered one of the most influential MC’s of all time, rapper and Hip-Hop pioneer Rakim has for decades provided inspiration to his peers and followers alike. Only 16 at the time of his first label recording, his 1986 release with longtime collaborator Eric B., Eric B. is President, is regarded as having revolutionized Hip-Hop’s lyrical style. His seemingly effortless delivery draws on jazz and R&B influences, and his intricately intellectual rhymes explore topics including astronomy, philosophy, mysticism, and religion. His recordings – including Paid In Full, Follow the Leader, and The 18th Letter – have sold in the multi-millions worldwide. Billboard, Rolling Stone, and MTV have called Paid in Full the greatest Hip-Hop album of all time. Rakim has been recruited to collaborate with artists including Alicia Keys, Jody Watley, Damian Marley, Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, Mobb Deep, Lloyd Banks, Limp Bizkit, Gang Starr, and Truth Hurts among many others. Brands such as Reebok, Coca Cola, LVMH, Ecko, and Sean Jean have made him a spokesperson. He is the recipient of a BET Lifetime Achievement Award, has been nominated to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2012 was named the #1 Lyricist of All Time by The Source magazine. Peabody faculty artist Wendel Patrick will co-host the Dean’s Symposium with Rakim.

British cellist and arts administrator Clive Gillinson is best known for his long tenure as the managing director of the London Symphony Orchestra and his current position (since 2005) as executive and artistic director of Carnegie Hall. At Carnegie Hall, he is responsible for developing the artistic concepts for approximately 170 performances each season ranging from orchestral concerts, chamber music, and solo recitals, to jazz, world, and popular music. Under his leadership, Carnegie Hall has embarked upon bold new directions in its concert and education programming, including augmenting and integrating current offerings to create large-scale citywide festivals. Gillinson conceptualized Ensemble Connect, a partnership designed to help the finest U.S.-based post-graduate musicians bridge the gap between their academic and professional lives. Most recently, Carnegie Hall launched the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, a free program for the finest players ages 16–19 from all across the country, and NYO2 for outstanding younger musicians, with a particular focus on attracting talented students from communities traditionally underrepresented in the classical orchestral field. Gillinson is the co-author of Better to Speak of It, published in 2016, which offers insight into how creativity can be applied with substantial results.

“These three individuals are at the forefront of what they do and will bring to our conversations a wealth of experience, thoughtfulness, wisdom, and inspiration. As we forge new paths for the future of the arts, I couldn’t be more excited about hearing from such talented and creative guests,” concluded Bronstein.

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About the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University

The Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University comprises both the degree-granting 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. 

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Tiffany Lundquist

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