Vancouver Academy of Music | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Vancouver Academy of Music

Vancouver Academy of Music (Community Music School of Greater Vancouver 1969-79). Founded in 1969 as the result of a five-year study of Vancouver's expanding needs by the non-profit Community Arts Council.

Vancouver Academy of Music

Vancouver Academy of Music (Community Music School of Greater Vancouver 1969-79). Founded in 1969 as the result of a five-year study of Vancouver's expanding needs by the non-profit Community Arts Council. Situated at first on West 12th Ave, the school moved in May 1976 to the Music Centre in Vanier Park, a former RCAF warehouse, reconstructed at a cost of $1.8 million. The centre comprises classrooms, practice studios, a library, rehearsal rooms for orchestra and choir, 36 teaching studios, and the 284-seat Koerner Recital Hall. The rehearsal facilities and auditorium are shared with other performing groups. Administered by a board of trustees and an advisory committee of leading Vancouver musicians, the school is funded by foundations and federal, provincial, and civic grants, individual donations, membership fees, and tuition fees.

The Vancouver Academy has two divisions: the Preparatory Division for preschool and school-age students as well as adults, and the College Division for students wishing to study towards a career in performance.

The school began with Orff, Suzuki, and Kodály classes for young children and was a pioneer in the development of the Suzuki and Kodály concepts in Canada. Following the appointment in 1971 of Jerold Gerbrecht (b New Orleans; B MUS Louisville, M MUS Louisville, principal trumpet with the Vancouver Brass Quintet and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra) as music director, a full non-degree program of private instruction was added, covering all band and orchestra instruments, piano, composition, history, theory, chamber music, voice, and ballet. The Academy Strings and Academy Wind Ensembles for advanced students, the Academy Symphony Orchestra (which gives three concerts each year), the Kodály Choir, master classes in violin, voice, and piano, and teacher training in the Kodály method are also features of the program. The Academy Symphony Orchestra performs under notable guest conductors in the Orpheum Theatre, home of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. In addition to private lessons and class instruction, the Vancouver Academy offers master classes, technique classes, opera workshops, and public recitals of solo and ensemble music.

High-school graduates can work towards a performer's certificate. For those students who hold a Bachelor of Music degree, the Academy offers a program leading to an artist diploma. The S.K. Lee College Program, offering a four-year diploma course for potential professional musicians, was established in 1987; areas of study are: major instruments, practices and traditions of music theory and history, and ensemble performance. The curriculum contains both practical and academic studies. The first two years constitute a degree-transfer program; academic courses are given by Simon Fraser University (Harbour Centre). The program leads to a Bachelor of Music degree through the British Columbia Open University.

The Vancouver Academy's philosophy has been to improve the quality of music training in Western Canada.


Some of Canada's leading instrumentalists and singers have taught at the Vancouver Academy, including Camille Churchfield, Roger Cole, Robert Creech, Lee Duckles, Wes Foster, Ronald de Kant, Jacob Hamm, Ian Hampton, Kum-Sing Lee, Phyllis Mailing, Leslie Malowany, Christopher Millard, Norman Nelson, Audrey Piggott, Kathleen Rudolph, Gerald Stanick, Steven Staryk, and Gwen Thompson. In 1979 there was a faculty of 70. Enrolment grew from 50 students in 1969 to 1500 in 1979. Between 1990 and 2005 there were 83 faculty, 6 administrative personnel, and over 1500 students. A newsletter, Keynote, was issued jointly with the Junior Symphony Society of Vancouver until 1980. Another periodical, Academy News, was issued three times a year.

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