Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts
Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts (MCPA), formerly the Maritime Conservatory of Music. The Maritime Conservatory of Music was established in 1954 in Halifax through the amalgamation of the Halifax Conservatory of Music (1887-1954) and the Maritime Academy of Music (1934-54). It changed its name to the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts in 1998.
The Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts began as the Halifax Conservatory of Music in 1887. It is now considered to be the largest and the oldest of such organizations for education in the performing arts east of Montreal. The Halifax Cons had been founded by Rev Robert Laing in conjunction with the Halifax Ladies' College and attracted students from the Maritime provinces. C.H. Porter, an organist and a graduate of the Leipzig Cons, was the first director. Many of his pupils went on to post-graduate work in Berlin and Leipzig. By 1890 the Halifax Cons had 240 students; in 1898 it became affiliated with Dalhousie University and began granting licentiate diplomas and B MUS degrees. In 1900 Porter was succeeded for one year by Felix Heink (brother-in-law of Ernestine Schumann-Heink). Heink's successor, Percy Gordon, another Leipzig graduate, was director until 1906. One of Gordon's pupils, Elsie Taylor, also studied in Germany and taught 1906-43 at the conservatory, becoming head of the piano department in 1934. Harry Dean was director 1906-34, then left to found the Maritime Academy, taking part of the conservatory staff with him. The Academy was located on Henry Street and had branches in various parts of the city. Ballet and Highland dancing were taught. Ifan Williams directed the conservatory until 1954; its ties to the Halifax Ladies' College were cut in 1952. In 1947 Mariss Vetra became head of the vocal department and established an opera class, whose activities resulted in the formation of the Nova Scotia Opera Association.
Under Dean's direction the Maritime Academy of Music became the largest music school in Halifax, with over 1000 pupils. It offered certificates in accompanying and school music, and (through its affiliation until 1962 with Dalhousie University, where students could undertake the required academic studies) a licentiate diploma (two-year course) and a B MUS (four-year course).
In 1954 the Halifax Cons purchased the assets of the Maritime Academy and became the Maritime Cons. Directors have been Ifan Williams 1954-8 and Kenneth Elloway 1961-70. There was no official director in the periods 1958-61 and 1970-7. Klaro Mizerit assumed the directorship in 1977. Upon his retirement in January 1989, John Rapson became interim director and, from July 1989, director. In 1956 the MCM rented a building on the St Mary's University campus; it was also associated 1978-86 with that university. In 1986 it moved to Sacred Heart School on Spring Garden Road. Ten branches have been opened in suburban Halifax and in Dartmouth. The conservatory grants an associate diploma (performance or teaching) and certificates for successfully completed examinations for grades 1 to 10. Advanced students may participate in a chamber music program. The dance department offered instruction in ballet beginning in 1947 and in ballroom, Highland, tap, and jazz beginning in 1976.
In 1998, the Maritime Conservatory of Music became the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts, a move to recognize its many diverse forms of performance, instrumental and vocal music and music theory, Kindermusik, group and ensemble music, and its school of dance (ballet, jazz, character and teacher training). In 1999, the Maritime Conservatory included the Musical Theatre Department on its list of performing arts, incorporating musical theatre and drama onto its list of educational facilities.
The goal of the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts is to provide accessible and comprehensive instruction in all the performing arts programs for students of all ages and levels of ability. They encourage all students, regardless of whether they seek excellence in the performing arts as a professional career or as a means of personal enjoyment.
From an initial enrolment of just over 200 students in 1887, the Maritime Conservatory has grown to over 1200 students. Over the years, it has taught more than 50,000 students in instrumental music, voice, dance and theatre. It currently has a faculty of 80 teachers in Music (instrumental and voice), Theory, Musical Theatre, Actors' Studio and the School of Dance.
Performance is an important part of the conservatory's contribution to the community. The earliest known public performance was in 1891, when the Dresden Trio, which included the conservatory's director, performed in Halifax. Both students and faculty of the conservatory have provided public performances in theatre, opera, ballet, choral and orchestral groups over the years. The conservatory's orchestra, the Halifax Conservatory Symphony, is considered to be the predecessor of Symphony Nova Scotia.
Awards, Scholarships and Special Activities
In 1926 the conservatory began its tradition of providing scholarships to talented students. Two competitive scholarships were initiated in memory of the Conservatory's first director, C.H. Porter.