Peabody Johns Hopkins University Magazine

Gift Funds a Piano and Supports Breakthrough Curriculum 

Gift Funds a Piano and Supports Breakthrough Curriculum 

Born in Shanghai, China, Ci-Ying Sun (BM ’92, MM ’94, Piano) came to the United States in the late 1980s to study at Peabody. That’s when she met Ellen Mack, a pianist, recording artist, and Peabody faculty member. Studying with Mack made a lasting impression on Sun, so much so that today, decades later, she still looks back fondly on her time spent at Peabody.

“Along with a high quality of education, Peabody and Ms. Mack instilled in me human and universal values that built a solid basis for my career and helped shape the person I have become,” says Sun. “I’ve also always felt that the years I spent at Peabody were instrumental in carving out a space for myself in this country.”

Perhaps with this in mind, Sun made a generous gift earlier this year to fund a Steinway piano in honor of Mack, her beloved teacher, and to support Peabody’s Breakthrough Curriculum.

After graduating from Peabody, Sun shifted to a career in business. She worked in the banking industry with Merrill Lynch and UBS, where she was managing director of UBS China domestic wealth management. Then Sun became the senior vice president for the auction house Christie’s Asia, where she focused on developing business in Asia. Sun is also a former fellow of the Aspen Institute’s China Fellowship Program—an initiative for successful private sector business leaders in China who want to have a broader impact on the world—and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network—a group of more than 2,400 leaders in the business, entrepreneurship, and nonprofit sectors who are committed to tackling the world’s most pressing societal challenges. She currently lives in the United Kingdom and works as an independent art advisor.

Throughout her impressive career, Sun has remained passionate about music. She’s performed as a soloist and chamber music collaborator at Carnegie Weill Recital Hall in New York City, the Kennedy Center Concert Hall in Washington, D.C., the Salle Pleyel Concert Hall in Paris, and the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing. In 2013, she played 10 pieces by Chopin at a one-hour fundraising recital to benefit the Asia Society; the concert was held at the organization’s newly opened Hong Kong Center. Sun was also a trustee for Wings of Music Children’s Musical Charity, which provides free music education for migrant and poor children in China.

“My Peabody education provided the foundation for my success, and Ms. Mack in particular was such a guiding influence and inspiration,” says Sun. “My hope in making this gift is to honor her work and, at the same time, help strengthen the kind of training that Peabody is offering to the next generation of students like me.”

Dean Fred Bronstein adds, “What I especially appreciate about Ci-Ying Sun’s gift, beyond her great generosity, is that her gift supports a grand tradition at Peabody, as exemplified by faculty like Ellen Mack, and simultaneously supports Peabody’s new, cutting edge innovations in the Breakthrough Curriculum, which is all about training world class musicians in a contemporary, 21st century setting.”

— Jennifer Walker