McGill Conservatory of Music to shut down after more than 100 years

After more than a century, McGill University’s Conservatory of Music will close by the end of summer 2022.

McGill announced the decision Monday, citing a plethora of reasons — including rising costs and a lack of space as other university-level programs grow. There has also been a sharp drop in students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior to the health crisis, more than 500 people were enrolled in private lessons offered by the Conservatory, but that number declined to under 300 last year, according to the university.

“Our best-case projection for in-person enrolment for next year would not exceed 100 students,” said Schulich School of Music dean Brenda Ravenscroft and incoming dean Sean Ferguson in a joint statement.

“The trend is as clear as it is unfortunate.”

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The Conservatory, which is overseen by the university’s Schulich School of Music, is “no longer financially viable nor sustainable.” Thousands of students from McGill and the city at large have passed through its doors since the institution was founded in 1904.

“This has been an extremely difficult decision, and one made only after careful consideration and analysis,” the announcement reads.

The university says students who are currently registered with the Conservatory will be able to complete their courses, but no new registrations will be taken beyond the summer.

Meanwhile, the union representing some of McGill’s professors is vowing to fight the closure. Raad Jassim with the course lecturers and instructors’ union described it as very “sad news.”

“We will not let that just simply shut down like this,” Jassim said. “We’re going to make noise.”

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Closing the Conservatory also hits close to home for former students and lovers of music.

Raya Badran, an independent music instructor, spent several many years at the Conservatory to help hone her talents and practice what she loves. The institution opened a “huge door” for her to start teaching music, too.

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“I was honestly very emotional and quite disappointed and sad about it,” she told Global News.

While shuttering the Conservatory is “extremely sad” for staff, teachers and the city’s music community, the deans wrote, “We will always be proud of the generations of pre-school to adult learners who have furthered their musical education through the Conservatory — and of the generations of instructors who made those educations possible.”

with files from Global News’ Tim Sargeant


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