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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

THE SCOOP | Montreal’s McGill Conservatory Of Music To Close After 118 Years

By Anya Wassenberg on June 22, 2022

Strathcona Music Building (Photo: Jean Gagnon/CCOC)
Strathcona Music Building (Photo: Jean Gagnon/CCOC)

The century-old McGill Conservatory of Music will be closing its doors by the end of this summer. The news was announced by the Schulich School of Music at McGill University, which operates the Conservatory, earlier this week.

In a media release, the university lists rising operating costs, and projected enrolment at only about 100 students for the 2022-2023 term. Before the pandemic, about 100 instructors were teaching more than 500 students at the Conservatory. They cite a clear downward trend in numbers to an unsustainable point.

The Conservatory’s administrative and teaching space were provided free of charge. Now, with the Schulich School of Music expanding, space is at a premium. The university calls the decision “extremely sad for our staff, our instructors, and the Montreal music community”.

Existing students will be allowed to finish up the current term, but no new students will be enrolled.

Founded in 1904, the McGill Conservatory of Music provided music education to the community through private lessons, and thousands of students have learned in its facilities over the years. It served as the university’s first music school, before the Schulich School was founded in 1917.

Reactions…

Raya Badran, a Montreal piano teacher, began her studies at the Conservatory at age 8. She’s quoted in an interview with CBC.

“It was part of my development, part of my music and my music journey. Hearing that [it was closing] really saddened me,” she said. “[It feels like] we’re going to be losing a lot of talent who will have less access to this kind of program,” she added. “It’s closing many barriers to a lot of people.”

Her dismay was echoed by many others on social media.

A union take

More than 100 instructors will be affected by the move. In an interview with The Montreal Gazette, Raad Jassim, head of the McGill Course Lecturers and Instructors Union, disputed the university’s figures.

“They are saying that there’s no space, but if there’s less enrolment, it means they need far less space,” Jassim said. “For the conservatory they use professors’ rooms or offices to teach, and this is after hours and on weekends, so I don’t know why this argument of space is an issue.”

Jassim said the union would continue to pressure the university to reverse its decision.

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