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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University July 11, 2005 | Vol. 34 No. 39
Interim Director Named for Peabody

Peter Landgren, a faculty member since 1981, will take a one-year leave of absence from the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra to take the helm of Peabody.

Peter Landgren, head of school's Change Team, to assume post in September

By Dennis O'Shea

Peter Landgren suspects that what he'll be doing for the next year may not be all that different from what he's been doing for the past 27.

While running a school is hardly the same thing as performing in a symphony orchestra, the similarities, he said, are difficult to ignore.

"Being a musician is about collaboration," said Landgren, who will become interim director of the Peabody Institute when Robert Sirota departs at the end of September to assume the presidency of the Manhattan School of Music.

"If a member of an ensemble is off in their own little world, it's obvious to anyone who hears them perform," he said. "I will look at my new role with Peabody in the same way that I would look at changing seats in an ensemble that already performs at a very high level. My part in that ensemble will change but not my desire for collaboration and a team approach."

Landgren, a Peabody faculty member since 1981, joined the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 1978 and three years later became associate principal horn, a position he still holds. He will serve as Peabody's interim director for the 2005-2006 academic year, until Sirota's successor is identified. He and Sirota already have begun working together to ensure a smooth transition.

"Peter has emerged as a real leader among the faculty of the Peabody," President William Brody said. "As head of the Peabody Change Team for two years, he has been instrumental in designing a plan to restructure the institute's administration and faculty governance, changing the way that Peabody works and better aligning its operations with its mission to be one of the world's great conservatories."

"Peter's choice as interim director ensures continuation of the incredible momentum Peabody has established under Bob Sirota," said Provost Steven Knapp. In Sirota's 10 years as director, the institute completed a transformational $27 million renovation of its Mount Vernon Place campus. It has revamped its curriculum, established closer ties to other institutions in Baltimore and collaborated in the founding of the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory in Singapore.

In addition to heading the Peabody Change Team, Landgren has been co-chair of the institute's Undergraduate Committee and a member of its Academic Council. He teaches both graduate and undergraduate horn players, coaches chamber music ensembles and conducts sectional rehearsals for both of Peabody's orchestras. In 2003, he won the Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award.

His mandate as interim director, Landgren said, is to see Sirota's change effort through to completion, maintain Peabody's momentum in raising funds and enhancing its reputation, and--working with the deans, faculty and staff--oversee the institute's educational and artistic efforts.

Landgren, who will take a one-year leave of absence from the BSO while continuing to teach at Peabody and play occasional chamber music concerts, has long been a student of leadership.

"Being such a longtime member of the symphony and of Peabody, I've noticed how leadership is so important not just to smooth operation of an organization but also to how happy people are, how engaged they are and how successful the organization is," he said.

"I've noticed examples of good leadership and less than good leadership," he said. "Bob Sirota has been a pillar of strong leadership."

Though heading the Change Team had whetted his interest in moving into administrative roles, he said, "I didn't see my first position as being interim director of Peabody. The rapidity with which this is all happening is a little overwhelming."

No problem there, though. Whenever stress levels escalate, Landgren will just keep in mind those parallels between the next year and the past 27.

"It has to do with fear or, hopefully, the lack of it," he said. "If a horn player is up on stage and is at all questioning the decisions he's about to make as a performer, it's obvious to everyone on stage and in the audience and to the music critic who's writing about it the next day.

"It has to do with confidence, with knowledge of oneself," he said. "That confidence and self-knowledge, when combined with collaboration, is also critical to leadership."


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