Music Conservatory of Sandpoint opens newly renovated Little Carnegie Concert Hall By Jillian Chandler | Photo Courtesy of The Music Conservatory of Sandpoint
“From the very beginning, we wanted to create a Juilliard of the Wild West,” recalls Karin Wedemeyer, director and co-founder of the Music Conservatory of Sandpoint. “We never lacked ambition nor dreams or imagination, nor desire to work hard no matter what sacrifices it took. Yet, looking back, it also took a good number of miracles for this dream to come to life!”
It has been 13 years since the idea of establishing a music conservatory in Sandpoint began. Over a decade ago, the school opened its doors to musical hopefuls, with just a handful of students in the cold back room of a dance studio, in September of 2009.
Today, it has grown to be more than anyone could ever have envisioned. Guided with international flair, by German-born opera singer and archeologist, Karin Wedemeyer, along with 24 professional musicians and staff, the Music Conservatory of Sandpoint is poised to take flight. In 2010, MCS moved into the historic landmark at 110 Main Street (formerly the old City Hall and fire station) on the corner of 2nd Avenue in downtown Sandpoint. In 2019, MCS acquired the building, making it their permanent home.
“When we came into ownership of this historic building, it was what we had dreamed about and worked on for years. Yet, it was unbelievable to us when it actually happened,” shares Karin. “And now we are on a journey of discovery as we have opened some of its old walls, uncovered its history and found its original rooftop bell. This building has become our best friend, and we are taking care of it with great love.”
The conservatory has fulfilled its mission by expanding opportunities for performing arts. MCS classes follow semester-based enrollment and a rich and vibrant Summer Academy, which attracts students from the Inland Northwest and beyond.
As an accredited school of performing arts by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the staff pays great attention to their curriculum. “Aside from our instructional material, we have shown our innovative side by creating the Music Matters! Symphony—a curriculum that takes a child through early childhood Little Mozart classes, into pre-orchestra and beginning private lessons, all the way to becoming an established musician,” states Karin. “It is a one-of-a-kind set of classes that interlink and give an extraordinary opportunity of skill-building. Since it is grant supported, Music Matters! is highly affordable and accessible.”
MCS has two goals and aspirations: first, working to become a leading school in the performing arts with international connections; second, to become a prototype of creative placemaking and create awareness of the wonderful things the conservatory and its students are capable of doing.
MCS’s Little Carnegie Concert Hall officially opened June 3 of this year with a grand gala opening and concerts. The concert hall and its stage allow students, staff, and invited musicians from across the world the opportunity to share their music with the outside world.
“Naming our stage the ‘Stage of Dreams’ came to me when I saw students flocking to it the moment the paint was dry. I was not the only one dreaming—everyone was!” Karin smiles.
The opening of Little Carnegie will have a significant impact on the conservatory’s many music ensembles, as well as provide ample space for early childhood programming and the first dedicated rehearsal space for the Youth Orchestra and Musical Theater in the school’s history.
For Karin, Little Carnegie Concert Hall is the realization of a long-held vision of nurturing a vibrant culture in Sandpoint. “We invite the community to participate, so that our students can dream up their musical future in Little Carnegie,” she says. “The stage honors that we are not just consumers. We are poets and painters, mathematicians and musicians, and so much more.”
MCS’s historic renovation is made possible through the generosity of community partners, the Avista Foundation, Confidence Foundation, Idaho Forest Group, Idaho Pain Clinic, Idaho, Heritage Trust, Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation, and STCU, plus private support. The conservatory’s superlative design, creative and construction team includes Architecture 311.5, Seven Bee Interiors, and Winterhawk Construction, among others.
The events calendar is beginning to fill up, according to Karin, but she promises “there will be room for spontaneous music making, theater performances, opera, you name it—you will hear it!”
Through the years, MCS has stayed true to its vision, following the path it has led them on. And as Karin affirms, “We are not done!”
Music Conservatory of Sandpoint
110 Main St. Sandpoint, ID 208.265.4444