The Don Wright Faculty of Music offers our students an extraordinary music education at one of Canada's most prestigious and picturesque university campuses. Nationally recognized scholars, composers, administrators, teachers and performers – leaders in Canadian music – engage students in a learning environment equaled by very few institutions. The Faculty offers a broad range or programs (undergraduate, graduate, diploma and certificate), a challenging learning experience, a collegial atmosphere, and outstanding facilities, including one of North America's top music libraries.
With more than 500 undergraduate students, 110 graduate students and more than 100 teachers, the Faculty is small enough to foster the development of close-working relationships with professors and colleagues, yet large enough to support a full symphony orchestra, fully staged opera and musical theatre productions, prize-winning choirs and a top-notch wind band program. We produce more than 300 concerts each year, most of which are free and open to the public.
Music followed a unique path in its affiliation with Western, evolving into a Faculty in 1968, and today is one of the top centres of musical excellence in Canada.
The journey began in 1903 with the formation of the Conservatory of London. In 1919, the Institute of Musical Art opened to teach "the art and science of music, voice, culture, and expression." The institute operated under the auspices of the University of Toronto and Toronto Conservatory.
Summer classes in music were offered by Western in 1934; in that same year, the Institute was incorporated as the Western Ontario Conservatory of Music.
The Sunday Nine O'Clock Series was launched the following year, generating interest in music education at the university.
In 1938, the principal of the four-year-old Western Ontario Conservatory of Music was appointed Director of Music for the University. When the McIntosh Gallery opened in 1942, the conservatory offices were moved into the building. During the 1943-44 academic year, 12 students were allowed to take a music course for academic credit.
The Music Teacher's College was set up in 1945 and three levels of instruction were established: the Department of Music in University College; Music Teachers' College at the collegiate level; and secondary level instruction at the Western Conservatory.
Music continued at the McIntosh Gallery, but space became increasingly cramped. In 1957, when the Business School moved, the Music Teachers' College relocated to "Goodholme," later known as the Silverwood Building. The name of the college was changed to College of Music in 1961 when it became part of the Faculty of Arts and Science.
On July 1, 1968, the College of Music became a separate Faculty as a result of the reorganization of the Faculty of Arts and Science. This also marked the beginning of a period of great expansion that led to the construction of the Music Building on campus in 1971.
The Faculty of Music was renamed the Don Wright Faculty of Music in October 2002 following a generous donation by musician and philanthropist Dr. Donald J. Wright. Today, Western's Faculty of Music is one of the largest in the country and is experiencing another phase of growth. Renovations to Talbot Theatre were completed in August 2009 and the hall was renamed in honour of retiring University President Paul Davenport. Plans for a renovation to von Kuster Hall, a 1200-seat concert hall and expanded teaching space throughout Talbot College remain on the horizon.