Music at Mount Saint Vincent University
Mount Saint Vincent University, Rockingham (Halifax) NS. Non-denominational (formerly Roman Catholic) institution, known familiarly as 'The Mount,' founded by the Sisters of Charity but in 1990 owned and operated by a lay board of governors. It offers undergraduate and graduate (master's level) degrees in arts, science, and education. Initially Mount Saint Vincent Academy, it was founded in 1873 as a teachers' college for nuns and was opened to local girls in order to promote higher education for women. It was licensed as a normal school for nuns in 1908. From the outset music education was an integral part of the curriculum, and an agreement signed with Dalhousie University in 1914 expanded the academy into a junior college, enabling it to offer the first two years of a bachelor's degree program, the final two years being given by Dalhousie.
In 1925 the academy was chartered as Mount Saint Vincent College, the Commonwealth's only independent degree-granting women's college. Licentiate and degree courses were offered in performance and music education; Sisters Mary Ludovica, Mary Corona, and Margaret Young, successively, headed the music department. The first graduate in music, Mary Montague (Boyd), received a B MUS in 1928. The Armdale Chorus originated in the college in the 1930s. By 1962, when the college's lack of money and Dalhousie's expansion of music programs had forced the closure of the Mount's music department and degree program, 20 licentiates and degrees had been granted.
In 1966 the college became fully accredited as a university. In 1968 various short-term, co-operative agreements were signed with Dalhousie University, allowing students at both universities to take advantage of the facilities of each, and in 1982 this became a long-term arrangement. In 1973 a friendly association was formed with the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and in 1982 another was formed with the Technical University of Nova Scotia. Despite the closure of the music department in 1966 a teacher of music has remained on the faculty, and music history has continued to be taught in the Fine Arts Dept, and creative arts for classroom teachers of music, art, drama, and movement in the Education Dept. Introduction to these same subjects is offered in the Child Study degree program.
Among the university's facilities are the theatre-in-the-round of the Seton Academic Centre and the three-manual Casavant organ in the chapel. Presentations have included such light musicals as Andrew Lloyd Webber's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and collaborations between John Alexander Brown (librettist) and Sister Margaret Young (music), including Raggedy Ann's Christmas (1975) and Alexander (1978), based on the life of Alexander Graham Bell. During 1978-9 three public performances were given by the Trio del Mar, artists-in-residence for that year only. A tribute to Helen Creighton titled 'The Collector' - a 90-minute musical based on Creighton's life, with a cast of 60 - was presented 28-30 Mar 1980 under the direction of Sister Margaret Young, who also directed 1973-80 an active student choir. In 1990 the choir's director was Mary Kelly. The Continuing Education Choir (also called the Seton Cantata Choir) was formed in 1985 under the direction of Ray Grant. Mount Saint Vincent University has conferred honorary degrees on Irene McQuillan Murphy (1982) and Agnes Grossmann (1991).