Montreal

McGill Conservatory of Music to close by the end of the summer

While there were over 550 students before COVID-19 hit, predictions showed that fewer than 100 students would sign up in the coming year.

The century-old institution is no longer financially viable, university announced

A lone piano sits on stage at McGill University's Pollack Hall. The school's famed Conservatory of Music has announced that it will be shuttering at the end of the summer. (McGill University)

After more than a century of teaching young aspiring maestros, the McGill Conservatory of Music is singing its swan song.

The university announced Tuesday that the Conservatory will be closing for good at the end of the summer.

The Conservatory, which was run by the university's Schulich School of Music, was open to the greater Montreal community, giving courses to students of all ages and offering teaching space to instructors, free of charge.

According to the school, the pandemic showed that "the Conservatory is no longer financially viable nor sustainable." While there were over 550 students before COVID-19 hit, predictions showed that fewer than 100 students would sign up in the coming year.

Meanwhile, operating costs have increased, and the university has been expanding its post-secondary music programs, meaning space on campus is at a premium.

"The trend is as clear as it is unfortunate," the announcement read, calling the conclusions "sobering, yet unavoidable."

Those who have already started their courses will be allowed to finish, but no new students will be allowed to enrol before the school's doors close for good.

The Conservatory was founded in 1904, and since then has seen thousands of students pass through its halls.

Among them is Raya Badran, who now works as a piano teacher in Montreal. She started at the conservatory when she was just eight years old and said it had a "huge, huge impact" on her life.

"It was part of my development, part of my music and my music journey. Hearing that [it was closing] really saddened me," she said.

Badran said many Canadian musicians were propelled to follow a career in music after taking lessons there, as she did. 

"[It feels like] we're going to be losing a lot of talent who will have less access to this kind of program," she said. "It's closing many barriers to a lot of people."

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