Seven-time GRAMMY-winner, two-time Oscar nominee, trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard will receive the George Peabody Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Music and Dance in America and will address the graduates during the Peabody Conservatory’s 2023 Graduation ceremonies on Wednesday, May 24. The George Peabody Medal is the highest honor bestowed by the Peabody Institute and has been presented annually since 1980.
“We are thrilled to have the privilege of honoring Terence Blanchard, whose remarkable and inspiring achievements in music across multiple genres, from the concert stage, to film, and now opera, are making an indelible mark on American culture,” noted Peabody Dean Fred Bronstein. “Fresh off his most recent success with the Metropolitan Opera’s acclaimed new production of Champion, Terence Blanchard is the very embodiment of a 21st-century citizen artist, someone who so intentionally and thoughtfully continues to expand his own artistic horizons and those of his audiences through his powerful creations and performances.”
With his roots in jazz, Terence Blanchard is an artist whose creative endeavors extend into film scoring, crafting soundscapes for television, and conceiving grand operas. In his works, he has been at the forefront of giving voice to socio-cultural issues and racial injustices of our time. His second “opera in jazz,” Fire Shut Up in My Bones, with libretto by Kasi Lemmons based on the best-selling memoir of New York Times journalist Charles M. Blow about his struggles to overcome a cycle of violence, opened the Metropolitan Opera’s 2021-22 season—the first time a project by an African American composer graced the Met’s stage in its 136-year history. His first opera, Champion, premiered at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in 2013 and is currently on stage at the Met. As a trumpeter, he began his career touring with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra in his teenaged years before taking over Wynton Marsalis’ place in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. A frequent collaborator with movie director Spike Lee, Blanchard has been nominated for two Academy Awards for composing the scores for Lee’s films BlacKkKlansman and Da 5 Bloods. He has won seven GRAMMY Awards and recorded multiple albums including The Billie Holiday Songbook (1994), Let’s Get Lost (2001), A Tale of God’s Will: A Requiem for Katrina (2006), Breathless (2015), and Absence (2021). His renown as an educator traces back from his 2019 high-profile position as the Kenny Burrell Chair in Jazz Studies at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music through his roles as artistic director of The Berklee College of Music, the Henry Mancini Institute at the University of Miami, and The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.
Blanchard joins a roster of previous George Peabody Medal winners which includes Herbie Hancock, Renée Fleming, Tori Amos, Leon Fleisher, Yo-Yo Ma, Jessye Norman, Roy Haynes, Quincy Jones, Wynton Marsalis, Marilyn Horne, André Watts, Ella Fitzgerald, and Leonard Bernstein.
This year marks the Peabody Conservatory’s 141st Graduation exercises, at which 91 Bachelor of Music degrees, nine Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees, 92 Master of Music degrees, 10 Master of Arts degrees, 26 Graduate Performance Diplomas, and 11 Doctor of Musical Arts degrees are scheduled to be conferred.
The undergraduate ceremony begins at 10:00 am on Wednesday, May 24, and a second ceremony for graduate degrees follows at 2:00 pm. Both ceremonies will take place in Miriam A. Friedberg Concert Hall on the Peabody Institute’s Baltimore campus. In-person attendance is ticketed and reserved for graduates and their families and guests; both ceremonies will also be available to view via livestream. Additional details are available at peabody.jhu.edu/graduation.