The Johns Hopkins Gazette: December 3, 2001
December 3, 2001
VOL. 31, NO. 13


Peabody to Guide Asian Conservatory

National University of Singapore's program to follow American model

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

In the first collaboration of its kind between a top American conservatory of music and a leading university in the Asia Pacific region, the National University of Singapore has signed an agreement to collaborate with the Peabody Institute on the establishment of the Singapore Conservatory of Music at NUS.

Steven Baxter, dean of the Peabody Conservatory and its chief executive officer since 1994, has been named director-designate of SCM and will guide the development of this new enterprise, whose official name is the Singapore Conservatory of Music in collaboration with the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University.

Robert Sirota, director of the Peabody Institute, receives a gift of Chinese calligraphy from Chong Chi Tat, deputy president and provost of the National University of Singapore.

Representing Hopkins at the signing, held Nov. 26 in Singapore, were Paula Burger, vice provost for academic affairs and international programs, and Robert Sirota, director of Peabody Institute.

"Johns Hopkins can't be everywhere in the world, nor do everything in the world," explained Burger shortly after the signing. "But it can look for strategic relationships with universities that offer mutual benefits. From the collaboration with NUS, we expect to get additional international visibility, international experience for our faculty and students, and additional very fine students from a part of the world where we have an already established reputation. We expect that both partners will learn from each other."

According to Baxter, who will assume his post in January 2002, Peabody faculty members will provide initial teaching and guidance to their colleagues in Singapore. "SCM will provide an undergraduate music education comparable to that offered by any major conservatory of music throughout the world," he said.

The agreement represents the culmination of approximately two years of discussions, Baxter said.

Peabody will assist SCM in curriculum design and development of a four-year program modeled after Peabody's. It will include music literacy, individual performance, composition and ensembles, and special programs such as recording arts, teacher education and computer music.

Peabody also will design and coordinate a strategy to identify and recruit gifted students from around the world, particularly from Asia, and will help set up admissions standards, including auditions. The new conservatory plans to admit its first class of about 30 students in two to three years' time and gradually increase the numbers to reach a total enrollment of 150 to 200 students.

In addition to helping recruit resident faculty for SCM, Peabody will make available composers and performing artists from the Peabody faculty on a short-term basis and will send both soloists and chamber ensembles to perform in the region. After SCM has enrolled its first class, Peabody faculty members will be available for master classes and residencies. It also is envisioned that key administrators and faculty at SCM in Singapore will travel to Peabody for internships and short residencies.

Collaborations between the two institutions are expected to increase after SCM's initial start-up period. Such collaborations might include student exchange programs, graduate programs, the use of technology for distance learning exchanges and other initiatives.

Hopkins has not released the financial terms of the arrangement. The establishment of the Singapore Conservatory of Music is a multimillion-dollar project funded by the government of Singapore, and Peabody will receive "appropriate financial compensation" for its services, according to a spokesman.

The new conservatory is part of a wide-ranging strategy to position Singapore as a global city, with vibrant communities in business, science, technology and the arts. The SCM is envisaged to be a focal point of music education, exchange and activities for both Singapore and the entire Asia-Pacific region.

Niam Chiang Meng, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, said, "The Singapore Conservatory of Music is an important milestone project in the development of Singapore's arts education, and it will contribute significantly to the overall development of our local arts and cultural scene. Singapore's vision is to be a Renaissance city--a global city for the arts," he said.

Said Sirota of the venture, "Such an association is a rare and exciting opportunity to enhance musical culture in Singapore and the entire Southeast Asia region, an outcome that will also have multiple benefits for the Peabody Institute. Peabody already enjoys strong ties with the Far East. Our faculty is enthusiastic about extending and strengthening those ties in Southeast Asia," he said. "As well as viewing this venture as a mutually profitable business partnership, we look forward to a synergistic, cross-cultural impact for both our institutions."

This is not a first collaboration in Singapore for Hopkins, which worked with its government in the creation of Johns Hopkins Singapore and the Johns Hopkins-NUH International Medical Centre at the National University of Singapore in 1998. "The success of that collaboration," said university President William R. Brody, "makes us look forward to extending our relationship with the university in this major new venture."

The National University of Singapore has 10 faculties, with an enrollment of 22,000 undergraduate and 8,600 graduate students.

The agreement between NUS and Peabody Institute will be for an initial six-year term, after which it is renegotiable if required.