Symphony House

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Brief History

A Brief History of the Northern Conservatory of Music, established in 1929, was a state approved, nonprofit, professional school located in Symphony House at 166 Union Street, Bangor, Maine.

Founded as a degree granting college of music for men and women, the Conservatory offered a number of study programs. The Bachelor of Music Degree in Music Education prepared individuals to become music teachers and music supervisors in public schools. The Bachelor of Music Degree in Music Theory required 133 credit hours of instruction for graduation. The Applied Music Program granted a Bachelor of Music Degree with a major in piano, organ, voice, violin, woodwind, brass, or percussion. The Diploma Course granted a similar music degree.

Symphony House, home of the Northern Conservatory of Music, was designed in 1833 by Richard Upjohn, Architect of Trinity Church in New York City. The Greek Revival residence in Bangor was the first commission of Upjohn, who later founded the American Architectural Society. Built in 1843-45 by pioneer Maine lumberman Isaac Farrar. as a present to his second wife, the residence served as the Farrar residence for many years. It was later owned and renovated in Victorian style by Isaac Merrill, founder of the Merrill Trust Company. Under the name Stewart Hall the building became the University of Maine College of Law from 1911-19, as the result of a $20,000 bequest in the will of attorney Levi M. Stewart, a-native of Corinna. Purchased in 1929 by the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, and named Symphony House, the building served as quarters of the Northern Conservatory of Music until the school closed in 1972. Symphony House also accommodated the Music Branch of the Bangor Public Library. The Conservatory building was given to the YWCA by the Curtis Hutchins family in 1973 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Isaac Farrar Mansion. Remodeled and furnished with mid-19th century antiques, the mansion is used for YWCA functions, public exhibits and private receptions.

The Conservatory is remembered for its emphasis on small classroom settings and one to one student-teacher instruction, thereby allowing the close interest of faculty members in the individual identity of each student. Phi Delta Omega honor society acknowledged students who attained an A or B grade point average during their first two years at the Conservatory. Student Chapter 428 of the Music Educators National Conference represented the Conservatory at state conventions, programs, and musical demonstrations sponsored by the Maine Music Educators Association. The Conservatory was affiliated with the Bangor Theological Seminary and Husson College in Bangor.

Performing-music groups at the Conservatory included chorus, madrigal singers, concert band, brass ensemble and jazz band. All students were required to register for chorus. Stringed instrument majors played in the Bangor Symphony Orchestra.

Directors of the Conservatory during its 43 year existence included A. Stanley Cayting, 1929-69; Lawrence Siegal, 1969-70; and William R. Mague, 1970-72.

The Northern Conservatory of Music, with an enrollment of 80 students, officially closed after the final graduation ceremony in June 1972, thus ending the mission and proud tradition of the music training school.

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