Inspiring Joy through the Arts
We believe the Arts are the heartbeat of life. Through music, dance, art and drama, we thrive individually and collectively. For this reason, the Conservatory has always been and will always be committed to providing the highest caliber arts education possible. We are equally committed to making the arts more accessible to students of all ages and being a continual source of inspiration—inside the classroom and out in the community.
View a video slideshow of how we Inspire Joy through the Arts!
Over Five Decades of Excellence
Founded in 1956, the Conservatory has celebrated both its silver and gold anniversaries with an artistic flair. In 2010, we merged with the Cape Symphony to form the largest arts organization on Cape Cod. The synergy between the two arts organizations brings unparalleled educational and entertainment opportunities to Cape Cod and beyond
Careful faculty selection and thoughtful program development have contributed to the Conservatory’s success. More than 60 outstanding individuals comprise our faculty of teaching artists. Each one has an exceptional educational background along with extensive teaching and performing experience.
Today more than 1,200 students of all ages and skills levels participate in over 60 programs, as well as private and group vocal and instrumental instruction, including instruction under the Suzuki Method. In the dance studios, the bar is set high with a full suite of classical ballet classes and, for those who move to a different beat, we offer jazz and contemporary dance classes. Creative art and photography offerings enhance our program, and our arts-infused, academically inspired preschool opens the door for little ones to develop a life-long interest in and love for the arts.
Ensemble and Performance Opportunities
Ensemble opportunities are key to young musicians, who will find unique and exciting experiences within our Youth Orchestra and Instrument Group and Mixed Instrumental Ensembles. In Repertoire Class, ballet dancers of all ages and skill levels apply what they learned in their Technique classes to perform steps and phrases from story ballets such as the Nutcracker and Dances in a Secret Garden.
Performance experience is also an important part of a complete arts education. Workshops, master classes, recitals and concerts—on campus and in various venues throughout the community—form the fabric of each year. Each one brings rich and rewarding opportunities for students to refine their skills and showcase their talents.
Community Minded, Community Connected
To help keep the Arts alive in the school systems, we offer several key outreach programs in partnership with the Cape Symphony.
In the nationally recognized MusicWorks! Everyday education program, children at more than 27 schools now listen to classical music for five minutes at the beginning of each school day and learn about the featured composer and composition. In the Music Memory program, students from participating schools study 16 pieces of the world’s great music then compete in a Name That Tune style contest, supported by a forty-piece live symphony orchestra.
We also host a Young People’s Concert for middle school students each year and bring Lesson Plans for the Classics, a companion multi-media lecture series to the Cape Symphony's Masterpiece Concert Series, to participating schools.
We are a member of the National Guild for Community Arts Education and also partner with other local Arts organizations and artists to sponsor programs, exhibitions and events that enrich our community.
A committee of citizens interested in starting an arts institution on Cape Cod, hired Dr. Paul Giuliana, a member of the association of music teachers, to investigate the possibility. Giuliana had received an A.M from the New England Conservatory of Music and an A.M.D. from Harvard University. He also attended Union Theological Seminary. After Guiliana determined the project was feasible, the committee appointed him its president. Artist and teacher Marsden Lore and Rosario D. Celentano are also mentioned as co-founders in the Conservatory’s history.
On April 5, 1956, The Commonwealth of Massachusetts granted a charter to the Cape Cod Conservatory of Music and Arts. Although a non-profit school from its first days, the Conservatory charged tuition to all except a limited number of scholarship students until 1964. At that time, the Board voted unanimously to commit more funds to scholarships and make the Conservatory programs more accessible to the public.
The first building to house the Conservatory was the Massachusetts Maritime Academy Building, now the Barnstable Town Hall. In 1960, the old Barnstable Village Schoolhouse on Cobb’s Hill became the Conservatory’s home.
After Dr. Guiliana’s sudden death, the Board of Trustees selected Bill Sexton, the Conservatory’s Business Manager, as the Director pro-tem. During his short tenure, he created the organization’s newsletter, From a Conservatory Window. He was succeeded in 1967 by Leslie Moore who worked to increase the Conservatory’s presence in the community.
The Seventies, Eighties & Nineties
For three decades, the Conservatory experienced significant growth in terms of programs, enrollment and real estate.
In 1971, Julliard graduate Richard Casper assumed the directorship and broke ground for the present West Barnstable campus. A year later, the Conservatory hosted a fundraiser and Arthur Fielder and the Boston Pops Orchestra performed for the first time on the Cape to a sold-out audience of 2,500 at the Cape Cod Mall. In 1973, Van Cliburn performed at the inaugural concert for the new Conservatory campus.
To accommodate students from the Upper Cape, the Conservatory established an extension in Falmouth by renting Highfield Hall, a large Southern plantation-style mansion built in 1875.
In 1972, upon learning of a plan to develop 500 homes on the Highfield Estate, benefactors Josephine and Josiah K. Lilly purchased the 487-acre estate and gave it to the Conservatory which used Highfield Hall as a studio for lessons. (A thrift shop, appropriately named Encore, occupied a front room.)
In 1975, the Conservatory decided to erect a new building on the property, and a year later the new Center opened on its current Highfield Drive location. Because Highfield Hall was no longer needed, it sadly endured two decades of neglect. A group of volunteers, Friends of Historic Highfield, worked to save and preserve the historic building, which is now owned by the town of Falmouth. Highfield Theatre is still owned by the Conservatory and has been used for 60 years by the Falmouth Theater Guild and the College Light Opera Company. Volunteers with The Highfield Theatre Restoration Project (HTRP) have spearheaded numerous fundraising and renovation projects over the years.
The New Millenium
Many talented people have served at the helm of the Conservatory and made significant contributions to its reputation and longevity. In 2009, Kevin Howard, President of the Board of Trustees, became the Executive Director and helped ensure the Conservatory’s exciting merger with the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra in 2010. Stephanie Weaver was then appointed Executive Director in January 2011.