RED BANK: CONSERVATORY AT HOME AT LAST

red bank nj monmouth conservatory of musiciThe Monmouth Conservatory of Music’s new home, at 65 Chestnut Street, features a giant mural on the facade. Below, violin teacher Bettina Forbes in the new building. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

bettina forbes, red bank nj monmouth conservatory of musiciHaving completed its absorption of the Monmouth Conservatory of Music, the Count Basie Center for the Arts gave the classical-music school its own home in  Red Bank Monday.

With the opening of a converted building at 65 Chestnut Street, the not-for-profit community music school now has its first-ever home of its own, officials said at a dedication ceremony.

In 2017, the Basie announced plans to assume operation of the 55-year-old MCM on the retirement of Vladislav Kovalsky, its executive director since 1998.

MCM now takes its place as a component of the Basie’s slate of specialized instruction programs in jazz, classic rock and Broadway-style performing arts — the umbrella known as the Performing Arts Academy. The Jazz Arts program shares space with MCM in the building.

“It’s really exciting and wonderful to have a home of our own,” said Bettina Forbes, a violin instructor, as she showed visitors one of the new classrooms equipped with an upright piano. The large space will “foster communication amongst the teachers and students, allow for more ensembles, and really bring classical music out to the public, which is our biggest goal,” she said.

Originally, plans call for the conservatory to be housed on the Basie’s Monmouth Street campus upon completion of a $25 million expansion  now underway. But Basie spokesman Jon Vena said the Chestnut Street facility will now be the conservatory’s home “for the foreseeable future.”

The school, launched in 1964 by the late Felix Molzer — a former director of the internationally renowned Vienna Boys Choir — and his wife, Jeanette, operated for most of the past two decades in borrowed space at Trinity Episcopal Church on White Street.

Here’s a video about the Basie’s decision to bring the conservatory under its wing.