The Innovative Partnership between Carnegie Hall and the Royal Conservatory of Music
Monday, June 18, 2012
Posted by: ISPA
Two ISPA Member organizations have recently been in the spotlight due
the success of their joint arts education venture. Enjoy the below
feature published in the Canadian publication the Globe and Mail on June 18, 2012 about the innovative partnership between Carnegie Hall and the Royal Conservatory of Music based in Toronto.
How do you get to Carnegie Hall? If you’re running the Royal
Conservatory of Music, you go to New York, pitch a well-tested system
of teaching and exams to the venerable concert hall, launch a joint
venture across the United States, and get ready for your enrolment to
double in five years.
At a time when many cultural organizations struggle to stay on their
feet, the 125-year-old conservatory is expanding aggressively, through a
year-old alliance with Carnegie, an ambitious plan for online
education, and an arts-based education program aimed at keeping at-risk
kids in school. The Con, as it’s affectionately known, opened a
much-enlarged Toronto facility in 2008, and a year later launched a
major concert series in a superb new hall, which tonight hosts a
birthday gala featuring pop star Feist and opera soprano Measha
"We think the brand name is very powerful, and we believe we have the
best system,” says Peter Simon, the Conservatory’s president. Simon, a
Hungarian-born Canadian, took over the Conservatory in 1991, and has
since tripled its budget to $36.8-million (70 per cent of which is
earned revenue). He sees the Con’s traditional franchising model –
whereby certified freelance teachers use materials standardized at head
office – as a template for exporting its methods to other countries, new
media and very different teaching situations.
In the past year, he says, 70 music schools and more than 3,000
teachers in the U.S. have signed up for the Carnegie Hall Royal
Conservatory Achievement Program, which will deliver the same kind of
syllabus and graded testing used by 500,000 Canadians annually. The
federal government, under former Con student Stephen Harper, put up
$7.5-million to get the Carnegie partnership started.
The Con opened in 1887 above a Toronto music store. Since then, it
has taught and tested famous performers such as pianist Glenn Gould,
tenor Jon Vickers and jazz musician Diana Krall, as well as people who
have excelled in other pursuits (including film director Norman Jewison,
NHL defencemen Scott Niedermayer and media executive Ivan Fecan).
Brueggergosman was a determined Conservatory student while growing up
in Fredericton, a town where classical music wasn’t easily encountered.
Her piano exams, she says, provided important discipline and meshed
well with her competitive nature.
"Singing is very organic for me, but I’m not a natural pianist, and I
really needed that structure to gauge my progress,” she says. "And
there’s such a cross-section of music in their syllabus. I credit the
Conservatory for my continued love of contemporary music.”
In 2008, Brueggergosman returned to Fredericton to launch the New
Brunswick division of Learning Through the Arts (LTTA), a Conservatory
program launched in 1994 to use creativity in the arts to enliven
subjects such as science and social studies. The program pairs specially
trained artists with classroom teachers – 15,000 across Canada so far.
In 2010, Alberta Justice gave LTTA a three-year, $1.3-million grant
to bring arts-based education into 90 classrooms in Fort McMurray. The
town’s Keyano College has just cut its arts faculty in half, but Alberta
Justice sees the arts as a tool for social cohesion, especially in
troubled aboriginal communities. Spokesman David Dear calls LTTA "an
outstanding success” in Fort McMurray. The Prince of Wales has also cast
a vote of confidence: His Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts
will run LTTA programs in Britain.
Back in Toronto, the Conservatory is trying to eliminate the mortgage
left over from its $143.5-million expansion, and to make its
professional-level Glenn Gould School (GGS) tuition-free. The mortgage
costs about $3-million annually, and turned a $644,000 surplus last year
into a $3.4-million deficit. Simon says that $1-million in budget
trims, plus income from the Con’s expansion abroad, should help avoid a
repeat performance. The Con is almost halfway to its goal of funding 125
four-year scholarships for GGS students, which would save a further
$3-million a year.
Online education is "a big investment area for us,” Simon says. His
goal is to let people study sight-singing or harmony at their computers,
or buy publications from the Con’s Frederick Harris Music Co.
The annual 55-concert series at Koerner Hall, which this year
featured the likes of soprano Susan Graham and pianist Emanuel Ax, has
broken even each year. It provides free admission to GGS students, and
arranges masterclasses with visiting artists, including conductor Valery
Gergiev next year.
"Koerner Hall has really become a musical hub,” says Mervon Mehta,
head of the conservatory’s $5-million performing arts division. Koerner
has hosted concerts by many local organizations, including Esprit
Orchestra, Toronto Jazz Festival and Toronto Summer Music Festival.
Meanwhile, all over Canada, children and adults take lessons,
practise for exams and learn math through programs developed at the
Royal Conservatory. Even if they never get to Carnegie, they’re getting
the message, one note at a time.
To read the article on its origianl website, please click on the following link.