Boston Conservatory and Berklee Exploring Merger that Reimagines 21st Century Music and Performing Arts Education

By 
The Offices of Media Relations (Berklee) and Marketing and Communications (Boston Conservatory)
June 26, 2015
Berklee and Boston Conservatory banners on campus

Two of the nation’s most prestigious performing arts institutions have announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that paves the way toward eventual merger. The presidents and trustees of The Boston Conservatory and Berklee College of Music have been exploring the benefits of an affiliation that would create the world’s most dynamic and comprehensive program for music, dance, and theater education. Earlier this month, the governing boards voted unanimously to approve the MOU, which calls for a broad-based, summer-long process of discussion and planning with important stakeholders. A merger agreement could take effect in 2016.   

The MOU was pursued as leadership from both schools realized that, together, they could create a visionary response to the rapidly evolving needs of 21st century artists. The two presidents agree that their combined institutions could offer students a truly unique environment in which to build the foundation of their life’s work and discover their authentic voices.

Within a new Berklee organization, The Boston Conservatory’s highly regarded programs in music, dance, and musical theater would retain autonomy, while giving Berklee students access to a uniquely-designed curriculum—especially in dance and theater. Similarly, Conservatory students would have access to Berklee’s pioneering studies in jazz and contemporary music, technology, music business, music therapy, sound design, production, film scoring, and online education. Conservatory faculty will have the opportunity to develop courses for Berklee Online, the largest non-profit online music school in the world. Both schools are committed to expanding online education as a component of addressing college affordability.

“Increasingly, our Conservatory students live in a global community. They want access to the rich performance traditions of other cultures and other genres, as well as access to industry-standard digital infrastructure,” said Conservatory President Richard Ortner. “Berklee offers exactly that global outlook and that range of opportunity, right here in our shared four-block campus. Together, we form an unbeatable incubator for student and faculty creativity.”

“Our goal is threefold,” said Berklee President Roger Brown. “We want to attract the most talented, creative, and motivated students in the world; offer them a challenging, cutting-edge experience; and give them the best possible chance to succeed as professionals in a variety of careers.”

Both schools have undergone significant evolution in the past decade, building new facilities and performance spaces, strengthening community partnerships, and enriching academic programming. Both Berklee and The Boston Conservatory are reporting record enrollment for fall 2015. Berklee has expanded its curricular offerings with online courses and degrees, multidisciplinary institutes, graduate programs, an increased focus on technology and entrepreneurship, and a campus in Valencia, Spain. Its alumni have won more than 300 Grammy and Latin Grammy Awards, while The Boston Conservatory’s contemporary dance program was just named “best in the country” by OnStage. The Conservatory’s musical theater program has long been considered one of the best in the nation and its music programs—including its opera studio—are renowned across the globe.

The combined campus would also provide new opportunities for academic collaboration: a first-ever program in jazz dance, allowing Conservatory dancers to work directly with the gifted students of Berklee’s Global Jazz Institute; songwriting and new-theater-works programs that take advantage both of Berklee’s expertise in contemporary song and the Conservatory’s depth in theater and stagecraft studies; and more fluid boundaries among ensembles that perform everything from Beethoven to Bollywood, from Monk to Mahler—all at a level that sets the bar for worldwide excellence. It is also anticipated that new programs for summer study and study abroad would be developed at Berklee’s European campus in Valencia, Spain, which is housed in the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, the city’s iconic opera house.

The Boston Conservatory and Berklee have had a decades-long history of collaboration. Founding members of the Pro Arts Consortium, the two institutions helped create the Boston Arts Academy and currently share some administrative and academic services. With the signing of a far-reaching MOU, the stage has been set for creation of a truly pre-eminent international training ground for 21st century leaders in music, dance, and theater.  

About The Boston Conservatory

Founded in 1867, The Boston Conservatory is an independent private college with fully accredited programs in music, dance and theater that train exceptional young performing artists for careers that enrich and transform the human experience. Known for its multidisciplinary environment and deep community engagement, The Boston Conservatory is internationally recognized as an innovative leader among conservatory programs, focused on elevating and celebrating every aspect of the performing arts, presenting more than 600 performances each year. The institution has established itself as an important voice in the movement to make all forms of performing arts a more visible and valued dimension of communities locally and abroad. For more information, visit bostonconservatory.edu.

About Berklee College of Music

Berklee College of Music, a non-profit educational institution, was founded on the revolutionary principle that the best way to prepare students for careers in music is through the study and practice of contemporary music. For 70 years, the college has evolved to reflect the current state of the music industry, leading the way with baccalaureate studies in performance, music business/management, songwriting, music therapy, film scoring, and more. With a focus on global learning, Berklee’s new campus in Valencia, Spain, is hosting the college’s first graduate programs, while Berklee Online serves distance learners worldwide with extension classes and degree-granting programs. The Berklee City Music Network provides after-school programming for underserved teens in 47 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. With a student body representing more than 100 countries and alumni and faculty that have won more than 300 Grammy and Latin Grammy Awards, Berklee is the world's premier learning lab for the music of today—and tomorrow.