Amy Killian, coordinator of the Towson branch of the
Preparatory, says that she
relishes the little things about her job — and the
On any given day, she can walk down the halls and hear
a symphony of musical development,
whether it's a 4-year-old awkwardly putting bow to violin
or a children's chorus that fills the air with
sweet, high-pitched notes. She can see it, too. A favorite
scene is a studio filled with tiny dancers just
old enough to stay on two feet.
"This is a place of a lot of first steps, literally
and figuratively," said Killian, who became
coordinator in 1994. "It's been a special privilege to be
part of this legacy of learning and growth."
Since 1958, the Peabody Preparatory Towson campus has
offered musical and dance instruction
to students of all ages, from 2 months to 90-plus. To
celebrate the division's golden anniversary,
Peabody will host a benefit recital at 3 p.m. on Sunday,
Oct. 12. The event will feature award-winning
pianist Eric Zuber, an alumnus of both the Peabody
Preparatory and the Peabody Conservatory.
The Towson branch, located in a single building on the
Goucher College campus, offers individual
instruction in all orchestral instruments, voice,
Suzuki-based piano for children and traditional piano
for all ages. Its group class offerings include dance,
strings, guitar, voice and music theory. Advanced
students take ensemble and theory classes and participate
in expanded performance opportunities at
Peabody's Mount Vernon campus, where the Preparatory
program is headquartered. In addition, the
branch hosts camps in the summer for singers and string
Roughly 500 students are currently enrolled at Peabody
Towson, including nearly half of the
300-plus-member Peabody Children's Chorus.
A Towson branch of the Peabody Preparatory was largely
the vision of former superintendent
Leah Thorpe. In the late 1950s, the Preparatory was
bursting at the seams and needed room to
accommodate additional students. Thorpe and other Peabody
leadership also felt that a campus in
Baltimore County would capture a population of people
unwilling or unable to drive into the city.
Thorpe negotiated a land-lease deal with Goucher
College to construct a building on the school's
campus. The branch opened its doors in 1958 and has been
faithfully serving the community ever since.
In addition to its 100-seat auditorium, the building
houses classrooms, a large dance studio and
small teaching studios. The classes are open to those of
all ages and abilities, and Johns Hopkins
employees can receive partial tuition remission for both
themselves and family members.
Founded by May Garrettson Evans in 1894, the Peabody
Preparatory, a division of the Peabody
Institute, offers gifted children and adolescents the
opportunity to realize their highest potential as
leaders of the next generation of performing artists. It
also provides an education in music and dance
to all members of the community who desire it, regardless
of age, professional intention or previous
Following on the success in Towson, the Preparatory
opened other branches, including the ones
operating today in Annapolis and Howard County.
Carolee Stewart, dean of the Peabody Preparatory, said
that the school owes a huge debt to
Thorpe's wisdom and vision.
"She had a really good idea and made it happen,"
Stewart said. "I often run into former
students who now bring their children to the branch. They
talk about how wonderful their experience
was. I think credit should be given to the work of Amy
Killian, who has developed this welcoming and
warm community that you sense as soon as you walk through
Jeffrey Sharkey, director of the Peabody Institute,
said that he, too, is regularly gratified to
hear the stories of appreciative Preparatory alumni.
"I meet people all the time who express the great
pleasure that the experience gave them, and
the confidence it instilled in them," Sharkey said.
"Creativity is especially essential for children. It is
one of the best ways for them to develop individual
expression and discover their own potential. I feel
the best way to nurture creativity is through the arts,
music and dance, and we've been doing that
effectively for a long time now."
Sharkey said that the Preparatory, and the Towson
branch in particular, has been the face of
Peabody for many.
"Just as many people — and this is certainly
true locally — know Peabody through the work of the
Preparatory, as compared to our college division," he said.
"In terms of Towson, we've been fortunate
to be in one dedicated space for 50 years, which has
enabled us to anchor ourselves in the community."
Sharkey and Stewart said they hope the Preparatory
will stay and grow in Towson for another
50 years and more. While there are no current plans for
expansion, Stewart said that the Preparatory
seeks to modernize the Towson facility in the near future,
and the proceeds from the concert recital
on Sunday will go toward capital improvements.
Stewart said she was pleased that Eric Zuber agreed to
perform and help illustrate the mission
of the school.
"He is a young man with a very big talent, and we're
delighted to welcome him back," she said.
Zuber earned a bachelor of music degree at the Peabody
Conservatory and a performance
diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music. His principal
teachers have included Boris Slutsky, Claude
Frank and Leon Fleisher. He is currently studying with
Slutsky at the Peabody Conservatory to
complete an artist diploma.
Zuber was a prize winner in the 2008 Sydney
International Piano Competition, 2008 Seoul
International Piano Competition and 2007 Hilton Head
International Piano Competition, among others.
The New York Times praised his debut at Carnegie
Hall, calling his playing "irresistibly fluid."
At the Oct. 12 recital, he will perform works by
Chopin, including the Andante spianato et
Grande Polonaise brillante in E-flat major, Op. 22,
considered one of the composer's most difficult
pieces for piano.
To purchase tickets, which cost $50 and include a
post-concert reception, call the Preparatory
at 410-659-8100, ext. 1121.
For information about music and dance classes for
children and adults at the Peabody
Preparatory, call 410-659-8100, ext. 1130, or go to: