This is such an exciting time for the Glee Program, here at the Music School! Darby Mills, from the Darby Mills Project, will be taking on the Artistic Director position for the upcoming Glee performance of Elton John’s “Rocketman”. We are so grateful to Darby for her enthusiasm and willingness to take on this role, and we are VERY excited to see this next performance transform and inspire the audience. Bravo!
This won’t be news to Vernon old-timers, but newer arrivals to the City may be surprised to learn that Vernon has the biggest music school in the B.C. Interior. The school, a registered charity, is housed in 2 beautiful heritage buildings up 32nd Ave. in East Hill, where 22 professionally trained teachers provide individual and group classes to around 500 students each year.
This level of serious (but fun!) classical training has produced some of ‘Vernon’s own’ performance artists, sent students off to musical university education across the country, provided members to the Okanagan Symphony, and helped keep a music culture alive in the city.
The public school system can’t provide this level of musical education, so young students come for lessons after school and into the evening. Daytime is busy with pre-school and home-school kids as well as with adult programs.
Programs are available for piano, violin, cello, guitar, voice, saxophone, harp (and other instruments).
Some programs are geared to community performances. The sold-out GLEE presentation in December at the Powerhouse was sponsored and directed by the school, and included past and present students.
For such a large school operation, the costs are held to a minimum. Our philosophy is that no serious student should be denied classes for financial reasons. The school runs with a single paid administrator, and a volunteer board of directors, with the teachers operating as contractors that provide a reasonably small portion of their student fees to provide for Society costs. Equally important is keeping our outstanding teachers happy!
Financial support to students has been well-funded by benefactors, over the years and today. We have a healthy bursary fund, and offer scholarships to strong students. As students graduate to a higher level each spring, they are adjudicated in a performance recital. The quality of music is beautiful, coming from this young talent.
Our buildings provide the happy home for all this activity. The main house is the Smith House, a beautiful 4-story heritage home with about 15 rooms for classes, a performance area, and administration. The foundation was recently completely rebuilt about 10 years ago on a large community fund raising program, the roof is relatively new, and the interior brings back the architectural glory of the city’s early days.
The second house is the Carriage House. Once actually a garage for carriages, it was completely rebuilt from the ground up, to heritage standards, (another community fund raiser) and has 3 floors, 2 used for classes and a loft that can seat up to 70 people for performances.
But heritage buildings take lots of upkeep, and this is a concern of the directors today. Both buildings should last for decades given regular TLC, but we have an intimidating ‘to do’ list. Roof drains have been leaking, there is some exterior wall decay, and a variety of birds, mostly flickers and doves, have taken up residence under the eaves and in the attics. We have the plans in place, just not enough money to keep up. We beat the bushes for grant money, but this is hit and (often) miss.
So, we are seeking benefactors or community groups that would like to partner with this valuable Vernon asset by contributing to an infrastructure fund. We’d be happy to talk with you, and give you a tour of the facility.
And, our dedicated and cooperative Board of Directors can always use new members!We have a meeting monthly, support performances and events, and work with the administrator and teachers to keep things running smoothly. Interested? Phone us and we’ll arrange for a chat.
Our school provides a meaningful way to contribute to Vernon’s music culture now and for generations to come. Contact us for more information.
THANK YOU SO MUCH! Because you continue to bring your Natures Fare receipts in to the Music School, we have received a total of $1,537.86 to go towards our various music programs! Please keep bringing the receipts in, we are so grateful for every penny received!