Concordia Conservatory: Mission-Based Community Outreach

By Marilou Yacoub, Concordia Conservatory

June 1, 2022: Concordia Conservatory has established new music outreach and will continue its mission-based music & art programs in 2022-23. When we think of Concordia Conservatory, what may come to mind is an institution that is the best place to study private lessons and chamber music, while not being aware of its more extensive mission: to inspire, instruct, and enrich lives through music, offering excellence in education and performance. And because of this mission Concordia Conservatory's focus on outreach programs embraces vitality and the development of artistry at every age, phase, and level, and helps each student realize his or her full potential in music regardless of age, ability, ethnicity or financial situation.

Concordia Conservatory established long term music outreach programs at ANDRUS (formerly Family and Community Services) and with the South Bronx Educational Foundation with Project Music Achievement at the Rosedale Center with over 2,000 students receiving music education.  In 1999, it began its scholarship program in Bronxville and expanded to its Stamford campus with the advice and leadership of Conservatory Board member, long-time Bronxville resident Peter Stace, Fordham University’s Senior Vice President for Enrollment and Strategy. Concordia Conservatory annually administers over 100 individual scholarships, funded through leadership gifts from Zlata and Greg Gleason, the Mary C. Hoch Endowment and the David Jacobson Endowment.

The Conservatory administers additional outreach in the community at The Wartburg, a senior living campus in Mount Vernon, the Bronxville After School Club, the Davenport Ridge Elementary School in Stamford, and The Chapel School, an independent K-8 school in Bronxville. The newest outreach was our partnership with The Garvey School, a private, co-educational PK-8 school in the Bronx where the Conservatory teaches early childhood music, group violin and general music classes through the support of Hoke and Laurie Slaughter.

In September 2019, Arts for Healing merged with Concordia Conservatory.  Arts for Healing was known as the finest provider of creative arts therapies to people of all ages with special needs in Fairfield County. With similar missions, organizational goals and priorities, it was clear the community had much to gain from the pairing of these organizations within a higher education setting. 

Arts for Healing continues its mission to elevate awareness around the importance of arts therapy, and its effect on the lives of special needs individuals of all ages and the Conservatory currently provides weekly music & art therapy classes in 19 public schools (elementary, middle and high schools) in Stamford and Norwalk through 2027.  This elevates and advances the music and arts for this population offering mood, stress, cognitive function enhancement and gives students with physical and cognitive disabilities an interactive music series designed specifically for this cohort.  

As Covid significantly impacted our not-for-profit world, Andrus, the South Bronx Educational Foundation and Concordia College closed, thus paving the way for the Conservatory’s next chapter and mission-based partnerships.

The Conservatory continues to bring musical performances to enrich the community’s cultural life.  These outstanding programs include the Hoch Chamber Music Series, the Conservatory’s annual tuition-free Holiday Community Musical, More Than Music Faculty Series, and the Musical Adventures Family Series and the new UNIQUE Series for special learners which continues its alignment with the mission -based work.  Since 1999, the Conservatory’s annual tuition-free musical has been both a beloved community institution and an effective theatre arts outreach program, supported by generous donors who have given over $900,000. In its 21-year history, the musical has seen over 1,600 performers and crew entertain over 20,000 enthusiastic audience members.

The sense of community and outreach rallied during this year of transition as Bronxville Mayor Mary Marvin opened the path for the 22nd annual Concordia Conservatory tuition-free holiday community musical, PAGEANT!  presented in partnership with Superintendent Dr. Roy Montesano at the Bronxville School Auditorium for a true community effort, outreach and engagement. 

And the plans for new outreach programs for Concordia Conservatory in 2022-23 include weekly music classes and Suzuki strings program in their universal pre-kindergarten for the Tuckahoe Union Free School District and weekly music therapy services/classes in the Waverly School in the Eastchester Union Free School District.

Kathleen Suss, Executive Director of Concordia Conservatory since 1997, was the recipient of the 2021 National Guild of Community Arts Educators’ prestigious Milestone Award recognizing individuals who have provided long-standing, exceptional service to the community arts education field. Over the years, the Conservatory’s commitment to supporting the arts along with masterful community building skills has allowed the Conservatory to create many programs - all with the goal of making music and art accessible to everyone.