A large band of music lovers cut the ribbon Friday on a unique new home for high-quality music instruction, performance and collaboration.
A few dozen supporters gathered in the snow to celebrate the opening of The Deanery School of Music at 1103 Main St., Davenport, and realize a dream that was years in the making.
Classes officially begin Monday, Jan. 17, in the historic, beautifully remodeled 90-year-old building. The nearly 5,000-square-foot limestone-clad structure is perched atop a hill overlooking Main Street on the edge of Palmer College of Chiropractic.
It was built to serve Episcopal bishops, but when those leaders were relocated to Des Moines, it became the home of deans and senior pastors of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, according to the Rev. John Horn, dean of Trinity Episcopal.
The renovated structure boasts a beautiful performance hall and multiple teaching and performance spaces. The Deanery’s programs will include private lessons, chamber music offerings and group music classes.
Rishi Wagle, The Deanery’s executive director, said the former residence had been empty for at least a decade and needed repair. As Trinity Episcopal leaders struggled to determine its future, they were approached by the dreamers from The Deanery who had been looking for a home for their new school. It was a perfect match. Trinity Episcopal agreed to lease the building to The Deanery for $1 a year, and The Deanery raised funds to repair and renovate the structure, Mr. Wagle said. The Rev. Horn said Trinity Episcopal was thrilled to welcome The Deanery.
Standing at The Deanery’s entrance at Friday’s ceremony, Dr. Joseph Lohmuller, president of the music school’s board of directors, added, “To think that there was talk of demolishing this structure.”
The dream for The Deanery dates back to 2012, Artistic Director Hannah Holman said.
That’s when she began thinking about building a music school in the Quad Cities. Mr. Wagle said Ms. Holman was inspired in part by the Preucil School of Music in Iowa City. She wanted to bring something similar to the Quad Cities which boasts a wealth of talent but not enough avenues for education, he added.
For years, however, life got in the way for the busy performer and instructor. Ms. Holman has been a cellist with the Quad City Symphony Orchestra for 16 years, and principal cellist since 2018. She also is a cellist for the New York City Ballet. According to her biography on The Deanery website, “Her career has encompassed orchestral and chamber music, solo performances, and teaching. In a review of the second CD she recorded with pianist Rene Lecuona, Fanfare magazine declares, ‘her tone and technique are the stuff that cello legends are made of. Holman’s cello sings with a lustrous tone that’s hard to resist.’”
Through it all, the idea for a school never went away, she said. And then a friend told her about The Deanery in 2018 and set the wheels in motion. The school was founded by Ms. Holman in 2019 as the Quad Cities Music Academy.
The Deanery’s mission statement says it “seeks to enrich and enhance the cultural and social fabric of the community through music and education.” For now the focus of the school is on teaching strings and organ. And Ms. Hollman is among 13 experienced and accomplished musician-teachers whose bios also are prominently featured on The Deanery’s website.
Mr. Wagle said The Deanery hopes to branch off into other areas of instruction. For now, private hourly lessons for strings are offered. Scholarships also are available thanks to a trio of generous donors, he said. Groups and individuals are welcome to register for one-hour classes, and The Deanery plans to offer performance and masterclass opportunities throughout the semester.
“This building is for everyone,” Ms. Holman said.
The school features original woodwork, especially in the music library, as well as large fireplaces, beautiful tilework and a stunning central staircase. Pianos, which were donated, can be found throughout the facility.
Hilltop Campus Village Executive Director Molly Otting Carlson said she is pleased that The Deanery has located in this historic neighborhood, as “engaging with music and education is essential to the human experience.”
A year-long capital campaign and contributions from grant organizations, including the Hubbell-Waterman Foundation, Moline Foundation, Scott County Regional Authority, and Bechtel Trust, paid for the estimated $250,000 in renovations.
The Deanery also would not have been possible without the support of its board of directors, the Rev. Horn; and philanthropists in the Quad Cities area, Ms. Holman and Mr. Wagle said.