Wheaton College Conservatory of Music

Conservatory of Music
Wheaton College
Wheaton, Illinois
Coordinates 41°52′07″N 88°05′58″W / 41.868679°N 88.099570°W / 41.868679; -88.099570Coordinates: 41°52′07″N 88°05′58″W / 41.868679°N 88.099570°W / 41.868679; -88.099570
Type Department and Professional School of Wheaton College
Dean Michael D. Wilder
Campus Suburban
Website homepage

The Conservatory of Music at Wheaton College is a music conservatory located in Wheaton, Illinois. It is both a department and professional school of Wheaton College. It currently has 21 full-time faculty members and approximately 200 undergraduate music majors, and is fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music. The Conservatory also operates a Community School of the Arts, serving the music and arts education needs of the surrounding community.


The Conservatory offers both the Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Music Education degrees. Majors for the Bachelor of Music include composition, history/literature, pedagogy, performance (orchestral instruments, organ, piano, and voice), and elective studies in an outside field. The Bachelor of Music Education degree offers emphases in choral or instrumental music.

The Conservatory seeks to train its students in four broad areas: composition, performance, teaching, and scholarship. All music degrees require a core of music theory, ear training, and music history. Performance studies are an integral part of the curriculum: all degrees require regular jury examinations on major instruments and participation in large ensembles. This broad approach reflects the liberal arts context of the whole of Wheaton College, of which the Conservatory is a constituent academic unit.

The Conservatory also offers a Bachelor of Arts in Music program, which combines 40 hours of music classes with the liberal arts general education track. A music minor is also available.

Administration and faculty

In 2008, Dr. Michael Wilder was appointed Wheaton's Dean of the Conservatory, Art and Communication. Upon his arrival, the administrative structure of the Conservatory was reorganized to reflect its duality as both a department of the College and a professional school. Reporting to the dean, in addition to the chairs of the Art Department and Communication Department, are a tier of directors managing the Conservatory's programs.


Full-time faculty:

The Conservatory also employs about thirty-five adjunct faculty members, and a support staff of secretaries, piano technicians, and business and operations managers. The Community School of the Arts has its own faculty and support staff. Facilities are maintained by the College's facilities management department.


Ensembles are the most visible part of the Conservatory, and provide students an opportunity both for application of their musical training and for fellowship and social involvement.

Large ensembles

The Conservatory has several large ensembles that are open to any Wheaton College student with sufficient skill. Each maintains an active performance schedule of home concerts, run-outs, and tours. Membership of each ensemble is established by an annual audition.

Chamber music

The Conservatory also has an extensive chamber music program. Standing chamber groups include the percussion ensemble, under the direction of Dr. Kathleen Kastner, which presents a fall and spring concert; Opera Music Theater, under the direction of Dr. Sarah Holman; piano ensemble, under the direction of Dr. Karin Edwards; and the trombone choir, under the direction of Mr. John Mindeman. Other groups of traditional and non-traditional instrument combinations are formed on an annual basis. The annual Chamber Music Competition is a showcase of these ensembles. A recent, related addition to the program are the jazz combos.


The Conservatory complex consists of three buildings on Wheaton's main campus in Wheaton, Illinois. Plans are currently underway to develop new facilities for the Conservatory within the next decade.[1]

Edman Memorial Chapel

In addition to holding undergraduate chapel services and numerous large special events such as Commencement and the annual Talent Show, Edman Memorial Chapel is the Conservatory's primary large ensemble performance venue. The auditorium seats 2400 and houses a handcrafted Casavant organ. A backstage addition was completed in 2009 including a new instrumental rehearsal hall and instructional space for harp, harpsichord, percussion, and string bass.

McAlister Hall

Built in the 1960s, McAlister Hall houses classrooms, practice rooms, the department offices, and many teaching studios, as well as common areas where students can relax together between classes and rehearsals. The Harris Rehearsal Room is used for choral rehearsals and conducting classes.

Pierce Chapel

Built in the 1920s in a joint venture between Wheaton College and College Interdenominational Church of Christ, Pierce Chapel now serves as the Conservatory's recital hall. The building's lower level houses organ practice rooms, teaching studios, the music technology lab, and two large classrooms, and the upper level, above the recital hall, houses offices for the Community School of the Arts. In addition to serving as the venue for student and faculty performers, the recital hall is also used for student prayer and worship services throughout the year. In 2011, a two-manual, seventeen-rank mechanical-action organ built by Charles Hendrickson was donated to Wheaton and installed in the rear of the chapel.

Notable alumni

Living emeritus faculty

Special programs

Wheaton College Artist Series

The Artist Series brings professional performing arts groups to campus, with several events spaced throughout the school year. Orchestras, dance companies, soloists, and world music ensembles are all included in the Series' offerings. Recent guests have been as varied as Bobby McFerrin, Canadian Brass, the King's Singers, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Russian National Ballet. Most years include one event featuring Conservatory ensembles performing a choral-orchestral masterwork or joining with other special artists.

Arts in London

Arts in London is a month-long study program occurring at the beginning of alternate summers. Faculty from the Conservatory, as well as the Theater and Art Departments, teach courses in art, music, and theater on-site in London's museums, theaters, and concert halls. The program also includes a weekend trip to Paris to further explore the European arts tradition.

Music and Ministry in the Great Cities of Europe

Music and Ministry in the Great Cities of Europe is the Conservatory's international missions program. MMGCE is a three-week trip occurring at the beginning of alternate summers. A group of students, formed into a choir and joined by a student brass ensemble, travels and performs in such cities as Budapest, London, Moscow, and Vienna, among others, depending on the year.


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