Yong Siew Toh & Peabody Conservatories Joint Degree Signing

Remarks by President Ronald J. Daniels
Carnegie Hall, New York City

Thanks, Jeff, and thank you Ambassador Chan for hosting this wonderful reception. I’m delighted to be here with you, President Tan Provost Tan, and the other officials of the National University of Singapore and its Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, as well as the New York-based alumni of our two universities who have joined us for this festive and significant evening.

It was simply magnificent to hear our Peabody and Yong Siew Toh musicians united in concert. Tonight’s performance was a wonderful embodiment of the cross-cultural collaboration that is so crucial for our students and our world.

The energy, grace and passion you all demonstrated tonight was palpable and inspiring. Bravo to our performers, their families, teachers, and, of course, our two deans who all contributed to this evening.

There is little doubt our globalized world demands that we learn to play in concert. In India, Johns Hopkins’ bioengineers are working with communities to improve maternal health. In Rwanda, our researchers are collaborating with local scientists to pioneer HIV treatments. While at our Nanjing Center, Chinese and American students – our future diplomats ­– are analyzing the complexities of our global economy.

I am thrilled to see this same spirit manifest so powerfully in the world of classical music and our partnership with NUS. And tonight, we celebrate the creation of a program unique in music education: the first truly international joint degree. Through the agreement we are about to sign, we rededicate ourselves to training the 21st-century musician – an artist who possesses not only great musical mastery, but also deep intellectual, social and cultural understanding that transcends the 9,500 miles (or roughly 15,300 kilometers) that separate Singapore from Baltimore. And I don’t just mean learning to love crab cakes as much as chili crab.

The three semesters of intensive study at one another’s sister institution will allow our students to integrate meaningfully into the other conservatory and country, while still building a strong foundation at home. Whether performing with the Singapore Symphony or volunteering to teach music in Baltimore’s schools, our students will delve deeply into each other’s cultures. Most importantly, they will cultivate the deeper human connections – developed over hours and days spent in one another’s company – that are essential to the highest levels of musicianship. They will emerge with a perspective that is richer, fuller, and more expansive.

So tonight, as we honor the achievements of the past decade and revel in the success of our present, we toast the future. To all our Singaporean colleagues, we are grateful for your support, your partnership and most of all, your friendship.