Victoria Conservatory of Music
Victoria Conservatory of Music. Major British Columbia teaching institution, incorporated in 1964 as the Victoria School of Music. It adopted the name 'conservatory' in September of 1968 and was affiliated with the University of Victoria from October of that year until 1978. In September 1978 the conservatory became affiliated with Camosun College, offering a two-year performer-teacher course leading to an Associate of Arts in Music diploma.
The first director, Otto-Werner Mueller, was followed by Robin Wood in 1966. Wood and his wife Winifred Scott Wood served as principal and vice-principal until 1985, when they became principal and vice-principal emeritus. The administrative structure was modified and Denis Donnelly was retained as director. Originally located in the old Union Hall on Pandora Sreet, the conservatory moved to Craigdarroch Castle in 1968 and then to the former St Ann's Academy in 1979. In 1997, the conservatory purchased the century-old Metropolitan United Church. After considerable renovation and construction to create classrooms, office space, teaching studios and performance areas, the conservatory moved to its new home in 1999.
The Victoria Conservatory of Music encourages both enjoyment of music and the performance arts and excellence in culture education. It offers training (individual and masterclass) in many instruments, in voice, in speech arts, music therapy and in piano teaching. The program also includes classes in the Orff, Kodály, and Suzuki methods. The conservatory also has a two-year teacher-training program. In the mid-1980s a piano summer workshop was begun, and a two-week summer jazz workshop was instituted in 1990.
Since its association with Camosun College in 1978, the conservatory has also offered advanced training for post-secondary students and music professionals. The conservatory also has its own examination system where students work toward certificates for each grade, with the highest achievement being the AVCM (Associate of the Victoria Conservatory of Music).
The student body has grown significantly - from 40 in the school year 1964-5 to over 2,000 students. A number of students from outside British Columbia and, indeed, Canada, have sought admission. The conservatory started with a faculty of 12 and has grown to a faculty of over 100, offering classes and programs in many musical instruments, as well as voice, music theory, music therapy, orchestras, choirs and ensembles.
The conservatory has many internationally renowned teachers on its faculty. Some of its famous alumni include singers Richard Margison, Ingrid Attrot, Benjamin Butterfield, and Barbara Livingston; pianists Walter Prossnitz, Eve Egoyan, Kevin Fitz-Gerald, Jon Kimura Parker, May-Ling Kwok, and Robert Holliston; composer Christopher Donison; conductor Timothy Vernon; and violinist Jonathan Crow.
By 1979 five conservatory students had been finalists in the CBC Talent Festival, and in 1977 several won top prizes at the finals of the CIBC National Music Festival, and have continued to perform well in national competition. The faculty has included Murray Adaskin (violin), Sydney Humphreys (violin), James Hunter (cello), Selena James (voice), Jack Kessler (violin), Arthur Polson (violin), Winifred Scott Wood (piano), Stanley Shale (piano), Bryan Gooch (piano), Hans Siegrist (cello), Kathleen Solose (piano), Catherine Young (voice), Ilona Bartalus (theory), and Alexander Dunn (guitar). The group-in-residence is the Trio Victoria. Some 60 student recitals were presented in the 1990-1 season and faculty chamber ensembles continued to offer performances.
Students continue to perform in informal weekly concerts or formal recitals, master classes, music festivals and competitions. Working with local school boards and recreation centres, the Conservatory has brought band, strings and children's programs to many outlying communities, including an interactive concert where elementary school children experience the Classical Masters at the Alix Goolden Hall.
In 2004, the Victoria Conservatory of Music released its first CD featuring many of its talented students, age 10 to 26, the Victoria Symphony Orchestra and the conservatory's Opera Studio.
Awards, Scholarships and Special Activities
The conservatory offers many awards for excellence as well as it's Scholarship and Bursary Program to help students with their musical studies. The conservatory's students perform and compete both locally and nationally. In August 2004, violinist Nikki Chooi won first place in the Strings and Chamber categories, and flutist Charlene DeVries won third place in the Woodwind category at the 33rd National Music Festival in Charlottetown. Chooi also won the National Music Festival's Grand Award.