Barely a year after Dean Fred Bronstein launched his ambitious Breakthrough Plan, Peabody has not only met the plan’s $2.5 million fund- raising goal — it has exceeded it.
The plan calls for Peabody leadership to focus on academic excellence, innovation, collaboration, and community connectivity to help Peabody remain among the most competitive and influential music conservatories in the nation. Toward that end, several important initiatives already are in place.
A key element at the outset was an assessment of Peabody’s pub- lic image. Working with an experienced market research firm, Peabody utilized targeted focus groups and surveys to learn more about how the Conservatory is perceived by prospective students — its strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities in the marketplace.
The research affirms that Peabody is seen as a top-tier school, highly regarded for its outstanding faculty, high-level students, and overall reputation, says Tiffany Lundquist, Peabody’s director of marketing and communications. “The research also pointed to several areas where Peabody can improve its efforts to attract quality applicants,” she says. The findings will now provide the foundation for refined messaging and an improved Peabody website, projects set to begin this fall.
An October 2014 symposium, “What’s Next for Classical Music?,” brought together experts such as Ben Cameron, then with the Doris Duke Foundation, and Marin Alsop, music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, to discuss industry trends and the role of the conservatory in the future of classical music. The symposium was viewed online in 31 countries and paved the way for a new series of Dean’s Symposiums, set for the coming academic year, to explore what it means to be a working classical musician today. Speakers this year will include music commentator Norman Lebrecht; David Handler and Justin Kantor, founders of (Le) Poisson Rouge; Howard Herring of the New World Symphony; Claire Chase, founder and artistic director of the International Contemporary Ensemble; and the Kennedy Center’s Deborah Rutter.
Adding to Peabody’s national profile is an exciting new recording project on the Naxos label featuring works by faculty artist Kevin Puts, a Pulitzer Prize–winning composer, and performed by the Peabody Symphony Orchestra (see page 10). Also adding to Peabody’s reputation as a place for contemporary music, this January, Peabody will host the New Music Gathering, a three-day event for professionals creating new music in the classical music tradition.
A new project still in its infancy but with tremendous potential is the Johns Hopkins Center for Music and Medicine. In collaboration with the Department of Neurology at the School of Medicine, the center would combine music and medicine in two ways: making music and rhythm an integral part of treating illness in the general population and improving the health of musicians worldwide.
“There is nothing like this on the East Coast,” says Andrea Trisciuzzi, Peabody’s associate dean for external relations. “To have a leading music conservatory and a leading medical institution working together on a project of this nature is very exciting.”
There’s more to come. Dean Bronstein recently appointed three task forces who will begin working this fall to review and revise Peabody’s curriculum; reimagine the ensembles program; and address the faculty governance system to ensure substantive, transparent, and accountable faculty engagement.
These are just a few of the initiatives that have grown out of the Dean’s Breakthrough Plan. The dean continues to seek broad consensus as he works to build capacity and innovation within the organization and pro- mote financial sustainability, all in the service of ensuring an even brighter future for the school.
— Christine Stutz