Celebrating 150 Years

Photography provided by the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music

During 2017-18, one of Cincinnati’s oldest cultural institutions will celebrate a major milestone. Established nearly 30 years before the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, more than 50 years before the Cincinnati Opera, and almost 100 years before the Cincinnati Ballet, the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) traces its origins to 1867. That year, a 31-year-old woman named Clara Baur founded what was then known as the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music in a one-room studio in Walnut Hills. From those humble beginnings, CCM has grown into one of the world’s premier performing and media arts institutions.

“We are among the oldest continuously operated conservatories in the country,” says CCM Interim Dean bruce mcclung, a musicologist who specializes in American music. “During the next 12 months, we will be celebrating our proud history, and we are inviting the entire community to join in the festivities.”

Today CCM has more than 1,350 students enrolled in nearly 120 different degree programs. Housed on UC’s campus, the “CCM Village” includes four major performance venues, rehearsal and recital spaces, a state-of-the-art theatre production wing, television and audio production centers and more. Although much has changed since 1867, mcclung asserts that CCM has been “on the cutting edge” of arts and media education for most of its 150 years.

CCM claims an impressive array of famous firsts. In 1927, CCM became the first conservatory in the United States to offer formal training in ballet. Its Dance Department is now one of the top five programs in the country. CCM’s Electronic Media Division is the product of another first. “In 1936, we established the first collegiate department in radio instruction, working with the staff of Cincinnati’s WLW radio station,” mcclung says. In 1968, CCM established the country’s first Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program in musical theatre, essentially writing the rules for how future Broadway stars would be trained. “CCM has an unparalleled musical theatre program,” he says. “This year we auditioned 738 high school seniors for 18 spots.” With that 2.4 percent acceptance rate, it is easier to get into Harvard Medical School than CCM’s musical theatre program.

Considering the talent that CCM has drawn to Cincinnati through the decades, it is easy to see how the school has helped fuel the future of the performing arts. It could be argued that Cincinnati has enjoyed such a dynamic arts scene in large part because it has had a world-class conservatory embedded in the community for 150 years.

For the students, faculty and staff at CCM, the Sesquicentennial is a chance to celebrate a major milestone with the community. “We are the largest provider of performing arts events in the state of Ohio, holding over 1,000 concerts and theatrical events a year,” says mcclung. “We have several special events planned for 2017-18, which will make this a truly remarkable season.”

Anniversary events will be held throughout the year, and CCM will announce its complete schedule of performances in July. Several events will celebrate the achievements of alumni. For example, CCM will present the popular musical Seussical, which was composed by distinguished CCM alumnus Stephen Flaherty and his lyricist writing partner, Lynn Ahrens.

Other highlights of CCM’s Sesquicentennial Celebration include an anniversary-themed “Moveable Feast,” on January 19, 2018. The event transforms the entire CCM Village into a four-hour party with 15-minute performances, drinks and dinner by the bite.

The school will celebrate 150 years of CCM and UC love stories with “Con Amore: From CCM with Love” on February 18. The concert will feature classical and popular love songs and will celebrate couples who met during their time on campus.

“Our longevity is ultimately due to the talent and dedication of the people who teach, study, and support the arts in CCM Village,” says mcclung. “Our Sesquicentennial Celebration will culminate with a concert on April 21 featuring famous alumni from the college performing with our premier student orchestra, the CCM Philharmonia. Audiences will get to see some of today’s finest talents performing alongside our ‘stars of tomorrow.’”

Mark your calendar, and come help celebrate one of Cincinnati’s oldest – yet cutting edge – cultural institutions. 

University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music is located at 290 CCM Boulevard, Cincinnati, OH 45221. For more information, call 513.556.6638 or visit ccm.uc.edu.