The chair is made possible by a generous gift from the estate of RICHARD W. and ELIZABETH CASE. Mr. Case served for many years as a trustee both of the Johns Hopkins University and the Peabody Institute, and was a leading attorney at his firm, Smith, Somerville and Case. Through his service as a trustee, Mr. Case played a leadership role in establishing Peabody as a division of Johns Hopkins, setting the stage for the relationship that exists today. Mr. and Mrs. Case shared eclectic interests, and the intentions of their gift were to promote the general purposes of Peabody.
In addition to establishing the Richard and Elizabeth Case Chair in Jazz Studies, the gift established the Richard and Elizabeth Case Endowed Scholarship at the Peabody Conservatory, an annual scholarship in jazz, and provided support to the Director’s Excellence Fund that enables priority needs and opportunities to be met throughout Peabody.
“I am appreciative of all those whose leadership and philanthropic generosity follow the legacy of George Peabody to sustain and further the highest standards of excellence. We are grateful for this estate gift from Richard and Betsy Case, which will help support several top priorities at Peabody.”
-Jeffrey Sharkey, Former Director of Peabody
Held by Gary Thomas
Baltimore native GARY THOMAS, currently the director and chair of the Peabody Jazz Department, is the inaugural holder of the Richard and Elizabeth Case Endowed Professorship in Jazz Studies. He studied at the Peabody Preparatory and Howard University, and brings to Peabody worldwide experience as a performer on tenor saxophone and flute. Often compared to jazz giants like John Coltrane or Sonny Rollins, Gary Thomas has been described on the European Jazz Network website as “…a versatile artist…who compounds (a musical heritage) with new elements and carries it creatively into the future.” He is a popular clinician at universities throughout the world. He has performed and recorded with such jazz greats as Miles Davis, Jack DeJohnette, John McLaughlin, Pat Metheny, Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Dave Holland, and Tony Williams, and has appeared on more than 100 recordings over the past 15 years. Mr. Thomas was formally recognized with the Johns Hopkins University Excellence in Teaching Award in 2012. As the inaugural Richard and Elizabeth Case Endowed Professor in Jazz, Gary Thomas will continue to strengthen Peabody’s Bachelor of Music Program in Jazz Performance, a program he has built from its inception. Distinctive in its focus on preparing students to become both creative musicians and skilled entrepreneurs, Peabody’s jazz studies faculty inspire the highest artistic standards. A core curriculum of multifaceted studies provides each student with a thorough technical, conceptual, and historical comprehension of jazz in a rigorous, performance-oriented academic environment. The program epitomizes the Peabody philosophy of providing aspiring young musicians with the opportunity to learn from faculty artists and guest artists renowned in their fields.