NYU's Robert Sirota To Succeed Pierce As Director of Peabody Institute By Dennis O'Shea Technique. Performance. Artistry. These have been the primary concerns of American conservatories of music for nearly 200 years. The goal has been to train, to nurture, great soloists, conductors and composers. And that, says Robert Sirota, incoming director of the Peabody Institute, should always be a major focus of a conservatory. But perhaps not the only focus. Dr. Sirota, who will take charge at Peabody in September, says that conservatories are ready to do more. They should, he said, be active in their communities, promoting art as a humanizing force in society. They should encourage their students to be excited about teaching and communicating about music, even beyond the concert stage and recital hall. And they should, he said, foster student insight into being human, the kind of insight that empowers great art. "I would hope Peabody could be a place where we could explore possible new models for artistic training," he said, "so that the 19th-century model of the conservatory--which we all have been in love with--will give way to some new generation of conservatories." In fact, Dr. Sirota said, Peabody is already becoming such a place. The conservatory's faculty, he said, is pushing new frontiers; the Peabody Preparatory is deeply involved in Baltimore and the region; the university administration encourages new links with other Hopkins divisions that expand the conservatory's capabilities. "This is a wonderful place for really pursuing that relationship between great artistry and humanity," Dr. Sirota said. "All of the pieces are in place for something extraordinary to happen in advancing the arts in society through Peabody." Dr. Sirota, an active composer, conductor and teacher as well as administrator, comes to Peabody from New York University, where he is chairman of the Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions. Previously, he was director of the Boston University School of Music. He said Robert O. Pierce, who is retiring after 13 years as director and 37 years on the faculty, has done "a great service to music and the arts in this country" by restoring the once nearly bankrupt Peabody to financial health and artistic prominence. "What Bob Pierce did was to save it from financial collapse, with the help of Johns Hopkins and the state of Maryland," Dr. Sirota said. "I feel I'm building on a secure foundation in terms of who is in place in the faculty and in terms of the current condition of Peabody."
Go to Gazette Homepage