Alberta College Conservatory of Music
Alberta College Conservatory of Music (Alberta College Music Centre 1969-85). The music department of Alberta College, founded in 1903 in Edmonton by the Methodist Church under the principalship of the Rev J.H. Riddell. The oldest non-denominational private school in the province, the college offered a program of private lessons, theory, harmony and history classes, and ensemble playing from the outset. It has grown into one of Canada's largest music schools with an enrolment approaching 3000 students and a staff of 107 in 1989. It has retained its private status and is financed almost entirely by tuition fees, unlike publicly-funded conservatories elsewhere in the province.
Vernon Barford was the first music teacher engaged. Teachers - eight by 1907 - were not salaried, however, but rented studios from the college and taught there on commission. By 1913, full courses in instruments and voice were being offered and by 1920 an orchestral program existed. Other performing groups active in the past have included an 85-piece mandolin, banjo and guitar ensemble and a large accordion orchestra. There was steady growth over the years, but in 1973 the staff was increased in a major expansion and Robert Cook was installed as the first director. In 1977 a teaching faculty of over 50, including Perry Bauman, Audrey Farnell, Thelma Johannes O'Neill, Robert Pounder, and Ranald Shean, offered instruction in orchestral and keyboard instruments, guitar, voice, theory, and history, preparatory to examinations by either the WBM or the RCMT. In 1990 there also were Kodály-based courses for children and special programs for senior citizens. A program for the blind was developed by staff member Anne Burrows. Master classes and workshops in collaboration with the University of Alberta and the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra were introduced in the 1970s and funded partly by Alberta Culture. Malcolm Smith succeeded Cook as director in 1975 and in turn was succeeded in 1983 by Dennis Prime - b Rosetown, Sask, 1949, DMA (Wisconsin) 1983, clarinetist and conductor - who established a large program of ensembles, including a structured choral program under the direction of the Swedish soprano Eva Bostrand. Over the years facilities and administration have been improved, the centre's prestige has increased, and several bursaries have been established by Edmonton citizens.