The Peabody Post

Kris Chesky Appointed Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg Distinguished Professor in Performing Arts and Health at the Peabody Institute and the School of Medicine

Appointment will establish new academic department in Performing Arts and Health 

Headshot of Kris CheskyKris Chesky, a leading researcher of performing arts health, joins Johns Hopkins University as a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor in Performing Arts and Health, a joint appointment at the Peabody Institute and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. His appointment will help establish a new academic department in Performing Arts and Health and marks the first Bloomberg Distinguished Professorship for the Peabody Institute since Johns Hopkins established the professorships in 2014.

Chesky comes to Baltimore from the University of North Texas, the largest school of music in the country, where he founded the Texas Center for Music & Medicine and is the director of collaborations between the University of North Texas Health Sciences Center and the College of Music. He joins Peabody and the School of Medicine for the new school year in July 2023.

“Recognized as a leader in performing arts medicine and performance science, Kris Chesky is the ideal candidate for the Peabody Conservatory’s first Bloomberg Distinguished Professorship,” said Fred Bronstein, Dean of the Peabody Institute. “He thrives on interdisciplinary collaboration and has an outstanding track record of inspiring and equipping emerging researchers in performing arts health. As chair of a new Department of Performing Arts and Health at Peabody, in collaboration with colleagues at JHU Medicine, Dr. Chesky will open new pathways with immense potential to advance our industry-leading arts and health collaborations and reduce the prevalence and impact of injury for performing artists everywhere.”

“What a welcome addition to Johns Hopkins Dr. Chesky is,” said Theodore DeWeese, Interim Dean of the School of Medicine. “His research of music’s ability to offer pain relief drew much attention and served as a bedrock in the field of music therapy. And Dr. Chesky’s work and advocacy around occupational safety for musicians has brought much-needed attention and change to the world of music performance. His work embodies the spirit of the Bloomberg Distinguished Professorships program.”

Chesky will build upon the collaboration between the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the School of Medicine with the Peabody Institute, becoming the first university faculty to integrate research and clinical care for performing artists into education. He will chair a new department of Performing Arts and Health within the Conservatory, establish a research lab in partnership with the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation to conduct biomechanical and psychosocial research, build data capturing systems throughout the Peabody campus to monitor peak performance and health indicators, and develop new curricular pathways for existing and new Peabody students. He will also lead an initiative to develop and oversee smart campus data tracking initiatives to monitor healthy practices, prevent injury, and optimize artists’ performance. Chesky’s scholarship and teaching will augment existing programs in performing arts clinical care, injury prevention education, and performance health surveillance at Peabody.

“Kris Chesky’s research on the occupational risks of the performing arts is deeply informed by his decades of experience as a musician,” says Stephen Gange, Johns Hopkins Interim Provost. “He has incorporated this unique insight into an interdisciplinary line of scientific inquiry that will lead to new ways of addressing and preventing music and performance injury. We are eager to watch as he develops and strengthens collaborations between two JHU nationally-recognized divisions: Peabody Institute and the School of Medicine.”

Chesky’s previous experience will align with Peabody’s deeply held dedication to excellence in classical arts training and innovative focus on the contemporary needs of performing artists seeking to launch and sustain lifelong careers. In linking two centers of excellence in transdisciplinary collaboration, Chesky will expand the broad network of resources and opportunities for interdisciplinary study available within Peabody’s personalized conservatory experience, including already industry-leading arts and health collaborations with the School of Medicine.

“The fact that Johns Hopkins, as a premier research institution with a prestigious conservatory, is embracing the challenges in performing arts health speaks loudly in and of itself and will resonate broadly, and definitely has the potential to impact the disciplines of music and dance,” Chesky said. “And the structure of the professorship with its intention to work across disciplines, without the roadblocks often set out by the siloization of university structures, brings about collaborations with engineering, audiology, medicine, and more. This is an incredible opportunity to innovate, to grow, and to lead.”

Chesky’s career as a music professional includes accomplishments as a performer, educator, researcher, inventor, and leader in performing arts medicine. For more than two decades, he has overseen collaborations between the University of North Texas Health Sciences Center and the College of Music, including the unification of activities across disciplines, from music, medicine, audiology, environmental sciences, speech language pathology, psychology, education, engineering, and public health. After founding the Texas Center for Music & Medicine, he established a research lab at Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine to investigate pain-reducing effects of music vibration on rheumatoid arthritis patients. He designed the first PhD in Music degree with a concentration in Performing Arts Health, created award-winning undergraduate courses, and developed Performing Arts Health related-field courses for MM and DMA student musicians. Chesky has built a widely respected set of research programs combining music and medicine and established an award-winning undergraduate occupational health curriculum. He also conceived and directs the Health Promotion in Schools of Music project at University of North Texas.

Chesky earned an undergraduate performance degree in trumpet from the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Early in his career he worked as a bandleader, sideman, and jazz soloist and performed regularly. Following a move to Texas, he worked for several commercial dance bands, jazz repertory ensembles, and church orchestras while pursuing graduate degrees at the University of North Texas. For his PhD dissertation, Chesky designed, patented, and applied computer-based technologies for investigating the pain-relieving effects of music vibration.

As a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor, Chesky joins an interdisciplinary cohort of scholars working to address major global challenges and teach the next generation. The program is backed by a gift from Michael R. Bloomberg, a Johns Hopkins alumnus, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies, World Health Organization Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Ambition and Solutions, and 108th mayor of New York City.

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