The Baltimore-based Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University has announced that it will present the George Peabody Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Music in America to Herbie Hancock. The pianist will receive the honor and also address Peabody graduates during the Institute’s graduation ceremony on May 25. The George Peabody Medal is the highest honor bestowed by Peabody and has been presented annually since 1980. Among the past winners are Renée Fleming, Tori Amos, Leon Fleisher, Yo-Yo Ma, Jessye Norman, Roy Haynes, Quincy Jones, Wynton Marsalis, Marilyn Horne, André Watts, and Ella Fitzgerald.
“It is a true honor to present this award to Herbie Hancock, a genuine icon of contemporary American music,” noted Peabody Dean Fred Bronstein in a press release received by JazzTimes. “His prolific artistic output as solo performer, recording artist, and bandleader is remarkable, and its impact is magnified by his lifelong commitment to fostering connection among communities and understanding across cultures with his art.”
The Peabody Institute, one of the world’s most prestigious music schools, also hosts a notable jazz studies program that was created in 2001 and that is now headed by Sean Jones. Among the musicians who have visited the school as guest artists and clinicians over the years are Benny Golson, Wycliffe Gordon, Branford Marsalis, Terri Lyne Carrington, Dennis Chambers, Peter Erskine, John Patitucci, Rufus Reid, Sam Rivers, David Samuels, Lynn Seaton, Marcus Strickland, Miroslav Vitous and Steve Nelson. “In our fourth year of the retooling of the Jazz Studies Department at the Peabody Conservatory of Music and Dance, it is fitting that a revival of this magnitude be signified by the presence of one of our masters,” Jones told JT. “It is a true honor to have Herbie Hancock speak to our students and share his vast life experience with us at America’s oldest conservatory of music. We are eternally grateful.”