Treated to a student musical recital that drew an impassioned ovation, Johns Hopkins President William R. Brody and a group of university administrators, Baltimore/Washington arts leaders, government officials and dignitaries from seven Asian nations gathered on Tuesday, March 4, to honor the establishment of the Singapore Conservatory of Music, a unique collaborative effort between the National University of Singapore and the Peabody Institute.
The event, held at the Embassy of the Republic of Singapore in Washington, featured speeches by Ambassador Chan Heng Chee, the evening's hostess; President Brody; and Peabody Director Robert Sirota.
Established in November 2001, the Singapore Conservatory of Music is intended to be a focal point of music education, exchange and activities for Singapore and the entire Asia-Pacific region. A building to temporarily house the conservatory on the University of Singapore's campus will be ready this spring, in time to welcome the first incoming class on July 28. A permanent facility is expected to be completed in 2005.
In its role, Peabody has assisted the new conservatory in curriculum design and development, recruitment of students and faculty, and the setting of admissions standards. In addition, Peabody will make available composers and performing artists from its faculty on a short-term basis and will send both soloists and chamber ensembles to perform in the region.
At the reception, two Peabody students, soprano Hyunah Yu and pianist Jerome Tan, performed a series of classical pieces. Yu is from Korea, while Tan is a native of Singapore. In his introduction of the performers, Sirota told the nearly 100 guests, a diverse group representing many nations, how poignant it was at this anxious moment in history for "those from different cultures and religious traditions to be unified by something as innocent as the arts and music."
"This endeavor is a brave and ennobling cause," Sirota said. "For [Peabody] to be asked to be of some assistance in the creation of this new conservatory was a humbling gesture."
This is not a first collaboration for JHU in Singapore, 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.