Distinguished alumnus Zuill Bailey (MM ’94, Cello) has found a new way to give back to his alma mater.
In gratitude, he says, for all that he learned from his teachers and mentors at Peabody, “in addition to subsequently living in environments filled with culture and the arts,” Mr. Bailey reached out to Dean Fred Bronstein last spring with an idea: to mentor Peabody Conservatory students through the Young Artist Development Series residency with his chamber music festival, El Paso Pro-Musica.
A “beta test” for a violin and piano duo began taking shape over the summer, auditions took place in October, and master’s student Nikita Borisevich (GPD ’13, Violin; GPD ’15, Chamber Music) and doctoral student Margarita Loukachkina (BM ’10, MM ’12, Piano), an established duo — who were wedded right after auditioning — were the unanimous choice.
The two were in El Paso from November 12 to 18 to give multiple public school concerts, master classes, and performances at the University of Texas at El Paso; perform in programs at the El Paso Museum of Art and at two donor cultivation events; and make frequent media appearances. Throughout the week, they were coached by Mr. Bailey and Felipa Solis, El Paso Pro-Musica’s executive director. Unlike other young artist training programs, there was no critique of technique or musicianship but instead a focus on communication skills, audience engagement, and programming experimentation.
Ms. Loukachkina and Mr. Borisevich described the residency experience as “inspiring,” “thrilling,” and “perfect!” Mr. Bailey reported that they “transformed over the week. Ninety percent of performers try to be someone they’re not rather than sharing who they really are.” The duo say that they learned from watching Mr. Bailey on stage that sharing oneself is a powerful way to further artistic development and connect with audiences.
“We learned how important it is to be the kind of people audiences want to see perform,” says Ms. Loukachkina. “Our teachers at Peabody do a fantastic job helping us learn to play our music at a high level. But in El Paso, we had the chance to learn how to be performers.”
Next year’s partnership program will expand to include more Peabody students. Auditions will take place in late spring for a November residency. Says Mr. Bailey, “I hope to provide inspiration and support to a new generation of performers and show them how a life in music can serve and enrich lives, as well as engage communities to make music accessible to all.”
— Sarah Hoover