The School of Music has 22 full-time faculty members, all of whom are active scholars, performers or composers. Together with a handful of highly qualified professional musicians in the St. John’s region, this cohort assures a full coverage of the principal branches of professional musical study. In the Fall of 2000, the School was awarded a Canada Research Chair which has led to the development of graduate programs in ethnomusicology and an international research centre for Music, Media and Place (MMaP).
The School also has notable strengths in a wide range of performance areas. Counted among its faculty are numerous active performers with national and international reputations. The faculty in the areas of piano (three full-time positions) and voice (two full-time, one part-time position) manifest not only strength, but breadth of approach. The three conductors on faculty have depth of experience not only in conducting, but in the teaching of conducting. There are accomplished professionals teaching guitar and nearly all orchestral instruments.
The M. O. Morgan Music Building was opened in 1985 and hailed as a state-of-the-art facility at the time. Noted for its impeccable acoustics and dramatic design, the D. F. Cook Recital Hall is the finest performing facility for music in the province. In the fall of 2006 a two-phase renovation was completed, providing Cook Hall with upgraded digital equipment to support professional calibre audio recording, flexible acoustic engineering and a sophisticated aesthetic environment. Suncor Energy Hall, opened in 2005, is an exceptional venue for rehearsal, performance, recording and webcasting. Teaching and rehearsal studios are spacious and well-lit. Practice rooms are plentiful, and pianos are well maintained. In 2012-15, the School is embarking on an extensive project to rejuvenate our inventory of pianos by replacing more than 30 of our older pianos with brand new Yamaha grands and uprights. Sound isolation in the building is exceptionally good.
The School of Music is served by books and reference materials housed in the Queen Elizabeth II Library, as well as a collection of scores and recordings housed in the Music Resource Centre in the M.O. Morgan Music Building. The library provides the full-time services of a music librarian and excellent access to a variety of electronic resources.
Schools of music have much more deeply integrated relationships with the surrounding community than many other units within universities. While it is true the community often looks to the university school of music to provide leadership, as well as a focus and a locus for much of its musical activity, the school, in turn, looks to the professional community which surrounds it for support. As a regional centre and a provincial capital, St. John’s offers a unique profile in this regard and boasts a complete musical infrastructure rare in a city of its size. Professional organizations, including the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra (and the numerous ensembles which cluster around it like the NSO Sinfonia, the Youth Orchestra, the Atlantic String Quartet, and the Philharmonic Choir) offer a breadth of professional and semi-professional experience. Major national cultural organizations have full operations here, including the CBC and Heritage Canada. Provincial arms of industry, professional and advocacy groups are active here, including MusicNL and the Registered Music Teachers’ Association. The principal agencies of provincial support are based in St. John’s, including the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council, and the Arts and Culture Centres of Newfoundland and Labrador. This mosaic of cultural infrastructure makes St. John’s a microcosm of the cultural tapestry of the country – an ideal lab environment for the cultivation of professional musicians in Canada.
St. John’s is, as well, the home of two major international music festivals held in July in alternate years: Festival 500 – Sharing the Voices and Sound Symposium. The School of Music hosts these festivals in its facilities and offers unique special topics courses for its graduate students in conjunction with both of them.