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Music on the Mount

Mount de Chantal Conservatory of Music to open at Wheeling Jesuit University

November 10, 2013
By KIM LOCCISANO - Staff Writer ( , Times Leader

" of faith, hope and love. The greatest of these is love."

The beloved buildings of Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy were such a place as was filled by those sharing such educational and creative gifts.

The love of the arts fostered for more than 150 years at the now absent school is again being made available to those in search of an arts education and those seeking opportunities to share their personal and professional passions for the arts with hopeful students.

Article Photos

The bell once housed in the tower at Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy is soon to be installed as the centerpiece of an outdoor display on a section of the grounds between the former Mount de Chantal grounds and WJU’s Continuing Educational Technologies building (seen here on the left) which is home to the new Mount de Chantal Conservatory of Music.?The Conservatory’s grand opening will take place on Sunday, Nov. 17.

Creative spirits in search of a nurturing environment will now have a new niche in which to grow as a unique arts education resource is to be unveiled on Sunday, Nov. 17 as the Mount de Chantal Conservatory of Music at Wheeling Jesuit University opens its doors for a private tour at 2 p.m. and a subsequent public open house event that begins at 3 p.m. that same day.

A Mass at Wheeling Jesuit's Chapel of Mary and Joseph will be held at 11 a.m. and a luncheon for Mount de Chantal Alumnae will be held in an adjacent area of the Center for Educational Technologies Building, home to the new conservatory.

Mount de Chantal Alumnae and Wheeling Jesuit University students will enjoy private tours of the conservatory between 2 and 3 p.m.

An official ribbon cutting has been planned for 3 p.m.

Expected to take part in the opening will be Sr. Joanne Gonter, of Mount de Chantal, whose own high school graduation was as a member of the Mount de Chantal Class of 1952. She later became a member of The Sisters of the Visitation, a graduate of what was then Wheeling College, and has also served as The Mount's Superior and as head of its religious community. She has also continued to serve in key advisory posts with the college.

Public tours of the new conservatory will be available from 3 until 5 p.m. Throughout the opening, musical performances will be offered by several Mount graduates, among them internationally known vocalist Mollie O'Brien.

Key items from the former school will be featured in the architecture of the conservatory, including one of the iconic scalloped windows from the art studio, a chandelier from the Parent's Parlor and the unmistakable beveled glass door of The Mount's main school entrance itself.

Visitors entering through the main entrance will be struck by the stark beauty of the backlit window frame.

"Holding a place of honor in the Mount's front hall for years, the senior class photo composites have been donated to the Conservatory by the Sisters of the Visitation. They will be displayed in the Sisters of the Visitation Gallery in the Conservatory, along with Sr. Joanne Gonter's own piano," offered WJU's Kathryn Kelly.

The seven-foot-high painting of St. Cecilia, patroness of music, which hung in the Music Hall at Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy for decades, is back in Wheeling as a recent donation to the Mount de Chantal Conservatory of Music at Wheeling Jesuit University.

The painting, and a plaster bust of composer Franz Liszt, were donated to the University by 2004 Mount graduate and Washington, Pa., native Michele Dufalla, who had purchased the items during an auction.

The Rev. James J. Fleming, S.J., president at Wheeling Jesuit University, is looking forward to sharing the open house event with those holding ties to Mount de Chantal, as well as those being introduced to it through the new conservatory resource.

He believes the new resource will not only expand the music program at Wheeling Jesuit University, but he has noted it offers a new educational dimension for WJU students.

"For the community, it provides local residents and visitors with a cultural destination for music, drama, art and Wheeling history," Fleming said previously about the project. "The University is making a significant investment in the space dedicated to the Mount. The Sisters of the Visitation, several benefactors, many Mount de Chantal alumnae, and longtime friends have shown tremendous generosity. We invite others to partner with us as we continue to develop this cultural gem."

Samantha Herrington of Bethel Park, Pa., recipient of the first Mount de Chantal Music Scholarship at Wheeling Jesuit University, will be part of a musical program to be presented.

The public is invited to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony and take part in the open house tours beginning at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 17 at the Center for Education Technologies Building, Wheeling Jesuit University, 316 Washington Ave., Wheeling.



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