Profile of Boston Conservatory at Berklee

Founded in 1867, Boston Conservatory is the nation’s oldest performing arts conservatory to offer fully accredited programs in dance, music, and theater that train exceptional young performing artists for careers that enrich and transform the human experience. Known for its multidisciplinary environment and deep community engagement, the school is internationally recognized as an innovative leader among conservatory programs, focused on elevating and celebrating every aspect of the performing arts. With its groundbreaking programming and its 700-plus annual performances, the institution has established itself as an important voice in the movement to make all forms of performing arts a more visible and valued dimension of communities, both locally and abroad.

In 2016, the Conservatory merged with Berklee to become the most complete and comprehensive performing arts institution in the world. Energized by this game-changing partnership, the Conservatory continues to grow as a vibrant community of artists, educators, and industry leaders, and is paving the way for the future of the arts.

Organizational Structure and Constituents

Boston Conservatory’s distinctive, multidisciplinary structure and world-class faculty are key to its success in training performing artists, pedagogues, and creative entrepreneurs.

The Conservatory’s highly sought-after instructors are distinguished artists and leading practitioners in their fields, holding positions with the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops orchestras, Boston Lyric Opera, Boston Ballet, Prometheus Dance, SpeakEasy Stage Company, and a host of other prominent local and national companies. The practical knowledge, real-life experience, and professional work ethic that Boston Conservatory faculty instill in their students shapes talented performers into multifaceted and confident artists, prepared to take on any role.

Another defining characteristic of Boston Conservatory is its deep commitment to community building, rooted in the institution’s core belief that the arts have the power to transform lives. This social awareness and empathy is vital to developing mature and insightful artists, and is a vital part of the school’s curricula. The Conservatory’s liberal arts courses, for instance, are custom-crafted to complement the work of its young artists, designed to encourage analytical thinking and cross-cultural, interdisciplinary awareness. These rich studies offer both critical vocabulary and historical perspective to develop a performing artist who is also a well-rounded, articulate, and thoughtful citizen. In addition, the Conservatory’s curricula offer opportunities for multidisciplinary and cross-disciplinary work that enhances students’ artistic literacy.

Boston Conservatory believes that the best and most effective training for gifted young artists is accomplished in an intimate setting. For this reason, it has strategically maintained a small and highly selective student body comprising 800 undergraduate and graduate students. At the Conservatory, there is a sense of community that creates meaningful bonds among students, faculty, and staff, which affords valuable opportunities for individualized attention.

To support the development of “whole artists”—talented artists who are well-rounded, culturally aware, and fully engaged in mind, body, and spirit—the Conservatory offers a number of programs and events designed to enhance students’ lives both in and out of the classroom: student government, residence hall councils, time-management and career development seminars, entrepreneurial grants and development opportunities, cultural diversity celebrations, robust health and wellness programs that include on-campus physical therapy and year-round counseling services, a student ambassador program, mentoring opportunities in the Boston Public Schools, and a popular student literary magazine, to name a few. Further, the Conservatory continues to increase the diversity of its student body, which includes artists from 29 countries, as well as students of many ethnicities from across the U.S.

The Dance Division

Voted the leading contemporary dance program in the country for two consecutive years, the Conservatory's Dance Division trains exceptional dancers for a wide variety of professional careers. Integrated training in ballet, modern, jazz, tap, ethnic styles, Pilates, Alexander Technique, and choreography are taught by our acclaimed faculty of professional artists. Small class size ensures personal attention. The Dance Division offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) in contemporary dance performance. The curriculum is performance-oriented, and the Conservatory is noted for presenting both reconstructions of the classic ballet and modern repertoire and premieres by celebrated and cutting-edge choreographers of today.

The Boston Conservatory at Berklee’s renowned Summer Dance Intensive for high-school and collegiate students ages 16 to 20 features an internationally known faculty of professional dancers and musicians. Classes include all levels of ballet and modern, pointe, and variations, Pilates, and Alexander techniques, choreography, and percussive dance.

The Music Division

The value added for young musicians at Boston Conservatory at Berklee is the meaningful exposure to a full range of music, from classical to classical contemporary, to opera and musical theater, to entirely new works that span all genres and styles. In the 2015–2016 performance season alone, the Music Division presented more than 500 concerts and recitals, with 260 new works—an extraordinary volume, in a division with just over 350 total students, both undergraduate and graduate.  

The Conservatory’s specialized music programs offer:

  • Immersion in core music coursework and performance activities that model the real world
  • A community of young fellow artists eager for exploration and involvement with top music professionals
  • A rigorous balance of academic and performance opportunities, mixed with interdisciplinary collaborations
  • Practical preparation, including entrepreneurial opportunities, for a fulfilling career in music.

The Music Division awards Bachelor of Music (B.M.) and Master of Music (M.M.) degrees, as well as a Graduate Performance Diploma (G.P.D.), Professional Studies Certificate (P.S.C.), and Artist Diploma (A.D.). More than 50 degree-granting programs are offered within the division’s 14 areas of focus: brass, choral conducting, orchestral conducting, classical contemporary music, composition, harp, music education, percussion/marimba, piano, collaborative piano, strings, voice/opera, vocal pedagogy, and woodwinds.  

In 2005, the conservatory introduced innovative music education training for teachers dedicated to becoming the best educators possible. Programs offered include a Master of Music (M.M.) in music education with licensure, a Master of Music (M.M.) in music education without licensure, a Graduate Diploma (G.D.) in music education, and—new as of 2015—two first-of-their-kind programs focused entirely on music and autism: Master of Music Education (Autism Concentration), and a Graduate Certificate in Music Education (Autism Concentration). A leader in the field of special-needs music teacher training, the conservatory created these cutting-edge programs, unlike any other in the world.

The Theater Division

Boston Conservatory at Berklee’s theater programs are considered the best in the country, with a distinctive specialization in musical theater and recent expansion into the contemporary theater realm. The Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) degree is awarded in both musical theater and contemporary theater, while the Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) is offered in musical theater.

The curriculum for all theater students includes core components of theater performance training: acting, speech, dance, theater movement, voice, musicianship, directing, stagecraft, and theater history and foundations. Every aspect of the Conservatory's theater training focuses on helping students achieve professional readiness and offers professional grooming and skills for auditions and cold readings, repertoire development, interviewing skills and business skills, including how to manage agents, casting directors, managers, and contracts. Numerous performance opportunities include musicals (both new work and popular pieces), recitals, senior and faculty-directed plays and musicals, and a senior webcase.

Alumni

Boston Conservatory's success is visible not only in our learning environment, but in the professional accomplishments of our graduates.

Boston Conservatory alumni from the Music Division have performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops, Berlin Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica, Singapore Symphony, Kaohsiung City Symphony Orchestra (Taiwan), Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Lyric Opera of Cleveland, Handel & Haydn Society, Chicago Lyric Opera, ConcertOPERA Philadelphia, and at the Kennedy Center.

Dance Division alumni have joined the companies of Alvin Ailey, Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, Jose Limón, Paul Taylor, Elisa Monte, Buglisi/Foreman, Stephen Petronio, Sean Curran, London’s Richard Alston, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane, Hubbard Street, Anna Sokolow’s Players Project, Pilobolus, and MOMIX. In addition, dance alumni have joined ballet companies including Boston Ballet, Metropolitan Opera, Ballet Hispanico, Atlanta Ballet, Les Grands Ballet Canadiens, Alberta Ballet, Eliot Feld, Oakland, Indianapolis, Dayton, Louisville, Arizona, Baryshnikov’s White Oak, National Ballet of Portugal, and Hamburg Ballet. They have also danced in Broadway productions, including Cats, Movin’ Out, Chicago, Ragtime, A Chorus Line, The Wiz, Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, The King and I, and Carousel.

Alumni from the Theater Division have recently been seen on Broadway in Les Misérables, 42nd Street, Mamma Mia, Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Phantom of the Opera, Never Gonna Dance, The Sweet Smell of Success, and Gypsy. They have toured the U.S. in Jesus Christ Superstar, Contact, Beauty and the Beast, The Producers, Saturday Night Fever, Urinetown, South Pacific, Hairspray, Grease, Ragtime, and Miss Saigon. Alumni have performed at Tokyo Disney, the Globe Theater in London, aboard Carnival Cruise Lines, in national commercials, on the hit television shows Mad Men, Orange Is the New Black, Law and Order, Judging Amy, Queens Supreme, Guiding Light, and The Young and the Restless, as well as in feature films, such as Undercover Brother, Idle Hands, Alive, When Harry Met Sally, and Malibu’s Most Wanted. Others are producers, directors, and creators of Broadway, touring, and television productions, such as Forbidden Broadway and MADTV.

Alumni from all divisions also serve as educators in their fields of expertise at Boston Conservatory at Berklee, as well as at New England Conservatory, Boston College, Boston University, Emerson College, Berklee College of Music, Mary Washington College (Virginia), Regis College, Barnard College (Columbia University), New York University, Brookline Music School, University of Costa Rica Music School, Ballet Academy East (New York City), Lincoln Center Institute, and overseas in Portugal, Korea, Greece, Singapore, and Taiwan.

ProArts Consortium and The Boston Arts Academy

Boston Conservatory at Berklee is a founding member of the ProArts Consortium, an association of six colleges that includes Berklee College of Music, the Boston Architectural College, Emerson College, Massachusetts College of Art, and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts.

Students of ProArts Consortium colleges may cross-register for a variety of classes at these schools, greatly extending and enhancing the range of learning opportunities available to them.

In 1998, after 14 years of planning and lobbying, the ProArts Consortium helped to found the Boston Arts Academy (BAA), the City of Boston’s first pilot high school for the visual and performing arts. The Boston Arts Academy acts as a laboratory for developing “best practices” in urban arts education, and has won numerous awards for its innovative programs.

Boston Community Profile

In addition to its commitment to public education through the BAA and its music education teaching-training programs, the Conservatory and its students actively contribute to the life of the city in a host of other ways, large and small. Some highlights of the Conservatory’s work includes:

Conservatory Connections, a community outreach series that offers 150 free performances annually to underserved communities. Service sites include the Susan Bailis Assisted Living Center, Rogerson House, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston Living Center, Boston Public Library, Jewish Memorial Hospital in Roxbury, Morville House, Rosie’s Place, St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, and Center Communities of Brookline. An astounding 38 percent of the Conservatory’s total student population participates in Conservatory Connections, representing both undergraduate and graduate students in all areas of studies across the dance, music, and theater divisions.  

GentleMUSES is a unique partnership between the Conservatory and the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in which students perform therapeutic harp music for patients, creating a calm and peaceful environment conducive for healing. Musical programs are specifically designed for both inpatient and outpatient settings. GentleMUSES performers comprise conservatory faculty, students, and alumni.

The Conservatory presents Autism-Friendly Performances (AFP) annually to community members with special needs and their families. These stagings of popular musical theater shows and contemporary dance productions are tailored to create a safe space for individuals with special needs in which to experience and enjoy the arts.

Furthering the Conservatory commitment to making the arts accessible is its annual Children’s Opera series, which includes presentations of 20–minute operas that have been specially written for children under the age of 12. These well-attended performances provide Boston families with the unique opportunity to introduce opera (normally an adults-only art form) to their school-age children.

In addition, students participate in citywide cultural events, such as The Fenway Alliance’s Open Our Doors Day, and provide countless hours of volunteer service and donations annually to the American Red Cross of Massachusetts Bay and The Greater Boston Food Bank.

Governing Structure

The Board of Trustees, which meets regularly throughout the year, is charged with preserving the integrity of the Conservatory’s mission, setting policy for and overseeing the leadership of the institution, and supporting and promoting the college.

A voluntary Board of Overseers strengthens our ties to the community. Members serve as ambassadors and advocates for the college, and ensure the broadest possible diversity and community representation. Overseers are “on call” advisors to the president and administration, and regularly serve on trustee-led committees.

The Alumni Association enhances communication between the college and the alumni of the Conservatory and provide valued support for the institution.