Back to News Making Music at the Mount

Making Music at the Mount


Filling the Halls (and Hearts) of the Mount with Music Once Again

This story originally appeared in the 2022 Annual Report.

A group of singers dressed in black stand on steps.

When Founders Hall—originally the Administration Building—first opened its doors in 1859, the romantic keys of a piano or hum from the strings of a violin could often be heard dancing down from the third floor. What is now Humanities Hall in the section of Founders Hall called the Academy—named in honor of the College’s roots as an institution—originally served as the Music Hall. Academy students could often be found practicing choral pieces, learning a new instrument, or preparing for performances. However, as the Academy expanded into the College and academics flourished, the space was transformed into advising offices for faculty members and the musical notes faded into a faint decrescendo down the hall.

But, at last, the College is proud to announce that the hills—of Riverdale—are alive again with the sound of music.

Following the announcement of the closing of Concordia College New York in nearby Bronxville in early 2021, the Concordia Conservatory—a center for music education offering programs for musicians of all ages and experiences—began to operate as an independent organization. Mount Saint Vincent recognized the value of the Concordia Conservatory in serving both college students and eager musicians from the local community, and having a conservatory of our own would afford us the opportunity to help students find enriching ways to navigate their individual musical journeys. Under President Susan R. Burns’ leadership—a lifelong musician herself—the Mount was inspired to form its own destination for music education in Riverdale and the CMSV Conservatory had its quiet launch over this past year.

“Founding the CMSV Conservatory will only further enrich arts offerings as part of the College’s robust liberal arts curriculum. Additionally, we can now offer local community members a new outlet to get to know the Right Place on the River and engage with the Mount through music lessons and performances.”

— Dr. Susan R. Burns, President

Keith Kreindler, previously the Program Coordinator at the Concordia Conservatory, joined the Mount in Summer 2021 with the task of launching the CMSV Conservatory as its founding director. Over the past year, Keith has spearheaded the development and growth of the CMSV Conservatory and is supported by approximately 20 talented faculty members who deliver music instruction to enthusiastic students from the Mount’s campus and beyond.

“As we establish the Conservatory, our goal is to elevate Mount Saint Vincent into a destination for students interested in musical growth, as well as establish the College as a destination for arts education and programming for the entire Riverdale community,” described Keith.

Music has, yet again, filled the halls and hearts of those at the Mount.

The CMSV Conservatory can be found in freshly revitalized space on the first floor of Marillac Hall, overlooking the cliffs of the Palisades and the rolling Hudson River. Housed in such a historic location, creativity flows from each studio as inspiration is drawn from views of the castle just across the parking lot. There’s no better place to make music at the Mount.

A pianist plays a piano.

Students of all ages, all learning styles, and all experiences are welcome to join the CMSV Conservatory—and not just those taking classes at the Mount. The Conservatory is open to all, from students to staff members to members of the local Riverdale community. Currently, Conservatory students are able to engage in private lessons with instructors in either voice or a wide array of instruments and CMSV students are even able to gain transcript credits. In the near future, the Conservatory hopes to offer small ensemble groups and a concert series.

“Mount community members have already joined the CMSV Community Choir—under the direction of George Heath—where students, staff members, Sisters, and members of the local community meet Monday evenings and have fun preparing the musical enrichment they bring to campus,” said Keith. “The Choir has performed at several campus events, including at last May’s Commencement exercises and Reunion and Homecoming Weekend.”

Still not fully convinced to get involved with the CMSV Conservatory? Mount Saint Vincent community members and their immediate family can receive an additional 40% tuition discount on lessons.

Just take it from Kristine Strutz ’23, one of the motivated musicians studying voice this semester. After attending a CMSV Conservatory recital for a friend last year, Kristine knew she wanted explore how the Conservatory could help her define and refine her own musical talents. Following a conversation with Keith, she signed up for lessons and was paired with a vocal coach.

“I’ve always been passionate about music,” said Kristine. “I performed in multiple choirs from elementary school through high school. Coming to the Mount, I knew academics would be my main focus—but I could still hear faint music notes playing in the back of my head. Once I learned of the CMSV Conservatory, those notes rang out into the greatest forte and I knew it was something I wanted to take part in.”

Kristine is spending an hour each week of this semester practicing her vocal talent with faculty members in the Conservatory, but that’s not where her musical involvement ends. She serves as co-president of WORDS, a performing arts club on campus. WORDS features performances from both contemporary dance and vocal artists. She’s hopeful WORDS and the Conservatory will be able to collaborate to bring musical programming to her peers in the near future.

A pianist plays a piano as a female student in a red dress sings.

Under Keith’s direction, the Conservatory will soon offer interdisciplinary courses in the visual and performing arts—integrating Conservatory faculty members with those in the Division of Communication, Art, and Media. It’s yet another way the Mount is continuing to grow its academic offerings.

“The Mount serves such a diverse population of students—many come from school districts where music education has all but disappeared. By offering arts education through the Conservatory—from performance training and opportunities to digital and acoustic composition—the Mount is giving traditionally underserved students an outlet to balance the rigors of higher education through transformative artistic expression.”

— Keith Kreindler, Director for the CMSV Conservatory

And while the Conservatory is currently recruiting musicians of all talent levels interested in making music from around the Riverdale community, the hope is for the Conservatory to eventually bring music into the streets and venues of the northwest Bronx through performances at local gatherings and events.

The launch of the CMSV Conservatory is certainly major news and an exciting endeavor for musicians to grow, create, and perform right here in the Bronx. While the programs continue to pick up tempo and new ensembles are formed, the Conservatory is eager to bring together Mount students, staff, alums, and community members alike to cheer for the white and the gold in perfect harmony.

Interested in learning more about the CMSV Conservatory or want to enroll? Explore the Conservatory webpages here, or contact Keith Kreindler, Director for the CMSV Conservatory.

A female student plays a saxophone and looks at a music stand

About the College of Mount Saint Vincent
Founded in 1847 by the Sisters of Charity, the College of Mount Saint Vincent offers nationally recognized liberal arts education and a select array of professional fields of study on a landmark campus overlooking the Hudson River. Committed to the education of the whole person, and enriched by the unparalleled cultural, educational, and career opportunities of New York City, the College equips students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary for lives of professional accomplishment, service, and leadership in the 21st century.