In a move that further cements its place at the heart of the Greater Red Bank Green’s cultural life, the Count Basie Theatre plans to merge the borough-based Monmouth Conservatory of Music into its existing suite of musical training and performance programs.
In a statement released Wednesday, the theater’s board of directors detailed a plan to assume operations of the 53-year-old MCM as a component of the Basie’s slate of specialized instruction programs in jazz, classic rock and Broadway-style performing arts.
“Adding the Monmouth Conservatory to our repertoire of musical and vocal offerings at the Count Basie Theatre is a dream come true,” Basie CEO and president Adam Philipson said in a statement. Citing a “shared vision” between the two organizations regarding musical education, Philipson said the pact “complements other programs offered at the Basie, from jazz to rock to Broadway vocals, which inspire and illuminate students while promoting the discipline required to succeed.”
Plans call for the conservatory to be housed on the Basie’s Monmouth Street campus upon completion of a $20 million expansion, detailed here in a 2015 posting on redbankgreen. Construction is slated to begin this summer.
Meantime, MCM continues to accept enrollments for its 2016-2017 session, and recently added its first-ever modern guitar course.
“We gift our non-profit classical music school and its over 50-year legacy to the Count Basie Theatre knowing that we can trust this historic cultural center to continue the conservatory‘s mission of excellence in teaching, performing and the life-long learning and appreciation of great classical music,” Vladislav Kovalsky, the conservatory’s executive director since 1998, said in a news release. “This union is significant not only for our two organizations but for the entire community.”
Founded by the late Felix Molzer — a former director of the internationally renowned Vienna Boys Choir — and his wife, Jeanette, in 1964, the conservatory has instructed several generations of young musicians in techniques for piano, violin, voice and more. The MCM operated from a second-floor Broad Street space until early in the new century, when it relocated to the facility once rented by Red Bank Charter School at the rear of Trinity Episcopal Church on White Street, where it now holds classes and concerts.
“We believe that the Count Basie Theatre is destined to become one of New Jersey’s premium cultural centers,” said MCM associate director Irina Kovalsky.
Yvonne Scudiery, who runs the education programs for the theater, called the occasion “an exciting time for the Basie.”
In addition to its partnerships with Rockit!, Jazz Arts Project — whose annual Talkin’ Jazz lecture series continues at the Basie’s Performing Arts Academy annex on April 17 and 24 — and the theatrical company Phoenix Productions, which inaugurates a new season on April 29 with the Disney musical Beauty and the Beast, the famous Vaudeville-era auditorium is a primary venue for large-scale presentations by such Red Bank arts entities as the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra and Monmouth Civic Chorus, as well as the Company of Dance Arts and bandleader Bobby Bandiera’s Jersey Shore Rock ‘n Soul Revue, which returns with a tribute to All Five Traveling Wilburys on April 22.
In addition, the building’s upstairs rehearsal space will host the grass-roots stage troupe Dunbar Repertory Company in a two-weekend engagement of Butterfly Confessions that begins April 21 — and the ground-floor office at the theater’s western end houses both the nonprofit Monmouth Arts Council and the Red Bank Visitors Center.
Students of the Rockit!, Jazz Arts Academy and Count Basie Theatre Voices programs are set to be among those paying tribute to the husband-and-wife Kovalskys during a special community concert event on the evening of Wednesday, May 3.
Tickets for the May 3 concert, dubbed “A Night to Entrust,” are priced at just $5, and can be reserved here. All proceeds and donations will assist the Count Basie Theatre in establishing a classical music scholarship.