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Open-letter: McGill Conservatory Closure

Montréal, July 9th, 2022

Dear Brenda Ravenscroft and Sean Ferguson - Dean and incoming Dean of the McGillUniversity Schulich School of Music,

On behalf of the McGill Music and Music Education Undergraduate students, we would like to express our profound disappointment regarding the decision to close the McGill Conservatory. We find ourselves shocked and blindsided by this news. As musicians and future music educators, our goal has always been to ensure that the next generation of musicians has access to the tools required to gain inspiration and grow. The McGill Conservatory had fulfilled that goal for over a century and offered invaluable opportunities to the music education students at the Schulich School of Music. It provides a great space for music education students to begin their teaching journey with young musicians in a familiar and safe environment. We are saddened to see such a long legacy of incredible community-building music instruction come to a close, especially at a time when music education is most needed.

The relationship between the faculty of the McGill Conservatory, the SSoM, and the Montreal community is one of great importance. The undeniable positive impact of this sense of community is deeply rooted in the McGill tradition. Musicians of all ages gather under the same roof to interact and create valuable music together. We have always firmly believed that McGill University’s values put community and the arts at the forefront — but this recent decision seems to suggest otherwise.

On page 12 of its Strategic Plan for 2020-2025, the SSoM outlines its goals for partnership and outreach. This plan emphasizes that these goals align with SSoM’s “values of collaboration” — specifically with regard to expanding knowledge and opportunities to the broader Montreal community. On the agenda is not only an assertion to strengthen connections between McGill and the community but also to “develop new opportunities for community engagement through the McGill Conservatory”. Understandably, this plan was written before the unforeseeable aftermath of the pandemic took its toll. Regardless, it stresses the integral role the Conservatory holds within SSoM’s community values, opportunities for students to engage with the broader community, and SSoM’s direction for the future. Such access should be a priority.

As members of the Schulich School of Music community, we think that transparency is vital for our organization’s development. As such, we would like to see a progress report on the 5-year plan published in 2020, including the structure and justifications for the Conservatory closure. Sharing such information with the SSoM community would be unifying for all SSoM stakeholders, as we will be able to find a solution together and move forward. MUSA and MEdUSA, representing the undergraduate students of the SSoM, remain committed to the continued development of our vibrant community. We remain open to collaboration and would like to directly participate in the discussion.

If the SSoM wishes to claim values of community partnership, more effort can be made to keep the Conservatory open, or at the very least, SSoM has a responsibility to offer alternative solutions to the many students who still want to learn and music education students to teach. Like much of the Montreal music community, MUSA and MEdUSA are profoundly disappointed regarding the decision to close the conservatory. We hope this letter will bring transparency, collaboration and action to the situation surrounding the closure of the McGill Conservatory. Collaboration from the administration with the Montreal music community and SSoM stakeholders such as faculty, students, and partners is crucial in finding a solution.

Transparency and collaboration will enable the Schulich School of Music to bring music to life.

MUSA Executive Council

Chenuka Lakwijaya, President

Chloe Martin, VP Internal

Cailin Walsh-Estabrooks, VP Administration

Ticana Andrulat, VP Finance

Marie-Alice Naud, VP Communications

Patricia Danielidis, Co-VP Events

Ashley Hudson, Co-VP Events

Sophie Coleman, VP Equity & Wellness

MEdUSA Executive Council

Andrew Ma, President

Jasmine Han VP Academic

Liz Andresen, VP Communications

Laura Clark, Co-VP External

Raphael Longo, Co-VP External

Lisa Matsugu, Co-VP Professional Development

Zoë Mercier, Co-VP Profesional Development

Jeanne Bransbourg, VP Social

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