University of Cincinnati – College-Conservatory of Music

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University of Cincinnati
College-Conservatory of Music
Motto Juncta Juvant ("Strength in Unity")
Type Public (state university)
Established 1867
Dean Bruce D. Mcclung[1]
Location Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Campus Urban

The University of Cincinnati – College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) is the performing arts college of the University of Cincinnati and is one of the nation's leading music conservatories.[citation needed] Several departments at CCM have been ranked nationally among university programs for pursuing a graduate music degree, including Its opera/voice program, its conducting program, its clarinet program, its music composition program, and its drama program.[2] In 2011, CCM was recognized as Ohio's first and only Center of Excellence in Music and Theatre Arts by the Ohio Board of Regents.[3]


The Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music was formed in August 1955 from the merger of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, formed in 1867 as part of a girls' finishing school, and the College of Music of Cincinnati, which opened in 1878. CCM was later incorporated into the University of Cincinnati on August 1, 1962. The college is sometimes mistakenly (if not outright intentionally) still called the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music by various publications such as Broadway Playbills and performer biographies. Since Nancy L. Zimpher became UC's president, the various UC colleges, including CCM, have been more tightly integrated under the University of Cincinnati name, including new campus signage and campus publications (including concert programs and calendars) that state the college's full name.

Today, CCM has an enrollment of about 1600, with a relatively even number of undergraduate and graduate students, and it is the largest single source of performing arts presentations in the entire state of Ohio, with over 1000 performances taking place each academic year. Though most performances are free to all University of Cincinnati students, CCM does not offer a music minor, and most classes are restricted to students of the college with the exception of a few music history, music theory, dance, and music appreciation classes.


Converted from a dormitory in 1996, Memorial Hall now houses many of CCM's practice rooms and teaching studios.

CCM Village[edit]

Completed in 1999, the CCM Village was built at an overall cost of $93.2 million. Under the supervision of Henry Cobb, of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, renovated existing structures were merged with an array of state-of-the-art new buildings creating four overall centers: Mary Emery Hall, the Corbett Center for the Performing Arts, Memorial Hall, and the Dieterle Vocal Arts Center.

Mary Emery Hall

The last and hallmark project for the CCM Village, Mary Emery Hall, was completed in 1999 and replaced the former Mary Emery Hall which housed aging practice rooms and classrooms. The new Mary Emery Hall is a confluence of "smart" classrooms, administrative and faculty offices, composition and performance labs, the Electronic Media Division, the Master Classroom, a Starbucks location, and the celebrated Werner Recital Hall.

The three-tiered building's interior has an open face with glass balconies overlooking its atrium. The atrium connects Mary Emery Hall to Corbett Auditorium. So-called "smart" classrooms were quite new to the University of Cincinnati in 1999, each housing high-quality video projectors, computer connections, soundboards, and other high-tech equipment to further facilitate instruction. In addition to faculty offices for the Electronic Media, Music Theory, History, and Composition, and Music Education divisions, Mary Emery Hall is home to a Starbucks location (which replaced the old CCM cafe in 2010). Three practice pipe organs and one performance pipe organ as well as the World Music Lab and Early Music Labs are located on its third level (fifth floor). The Master Classroom is a frequent location for recitals, studio classes, and master classes.

Corbett Center for Performing Arts

Named for its primary benefactors, Patricia and J. Ralph Corbett, the four level facility houses classrooms, offices, and studios for the Division of Opera, Musical Theatre, Drama, and Arts Administration, the Theatre Design and Production Division, the Jazz Studies Division, and the Dance Division. It is also the site of most of CCM's performance venues including Corbett Auditorium, Patricia Corbett Theatre, Cohen Family Studio Theatre, and Watson Hall. Three full dance studios and numerous other rehearsal rooms adorn the ground floor level, as well as a centrally located 10,000-square-foot scene shop. Costume shops, make-up studios, design labs, and offices occupy most of its second level. The lowest floor features Watson Recital Hall, as well as large classrooms used primarily for orchestral rehearsals and lab style courses as well as jazz studios and performance labs.

Baur Room

Added to the Corbett Center in 1999 was the Baur Room, an intimate and ornate room used for small receptions and student meetings such as the quarterly Dean's Forum. It was named in honor of Clara and Bertha Baur, the first two directresses of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.

Memorial Hall

Memorial Hall was converted from a women's dormitory in 1996 to a fully equipped practice and studio facility for the College-Conservatory of Music. Amongst its architectural features, one will find gargoyles splendoured throughout the building's facade and sculptures acting as a memorial to World War 1, such as planes, U-Boats, and tanks. Many of the teaching studios inside the building still have the original fireplaces and mantels. Chamber music rehearsal rooms, reed making rooms, the center for computer music (ccm^2), and a small chamber performance room become a second home for many of CCM's students. All practice rooms and teaching studios feature windows and soundproofing. All piano major practice rooms feature Steinway grand pianos, and roughly 85% of all other practice rooms have a piano as well.

Dieterle Vocal Arts Center

The Dieterle Vocal Arts Center, commonly referred to as DVAC, was originally called Schmidlapp Hall. It was the university's gymnasium and athletic facility prior to the construction of the Armory Field House in 1954 and then was used by the ROTC program. DVAC is now the center of nearly all choral and vocal activity at CCM. Voice studios, coaching studios, accompanying studios, and choral rehearsal rooms are the main occupants of the building. The choral rehearsal room was once the location of the university's indoor pool.

Electronic media facilities[edit]

  • Ralph J. Corbett Audio Production Center
  • Lawrence A. Leser Newsroom
  • Judy and Jim Van Cleave Multimedia Laboratory
  • Jack and Joan Strader Radio Center
  • Walter and Marilyn Bartlett Television Production Center

Nippert Rehearsal Studio[edit]

The Nippert Rehearsal Studio, named for Louise Dieterle Nippert, was originally the site of the University of Cincinnati gymnasium and main basketball court from 1911 until 1951. Its large gallery windows overlook Nippert Stadium, and the hall is typically kept lit for night football games. The building is a common sight during nationally televised football games. Now, the space primarily acts as the main rehearsal hall for all of CCM's mainstage productions.

CCM libraries[edit]

  • Gorno Memorial Music Library
  • CCM Listening Center

Performance venues[edit]

In 2017, all five main performance halls participated in a ~$15M renovation.
Corbett Auditorium

CCM's largest performance venue seating 738. It underwent a $5 million renovation in 1996. Most of the choral, orchestral, and wind concerts, ballet, opera, and musical theatre productions take place here. The hall features a front-of-stage hydraulic system for conversion into an orchestral pit, a series of trap doors mid-stage, a hidden pipe organ, and a large stage shell that can be used to toggle the space between acting as a concert hall and a theatre/opera house. During the 2017 renovation, all seats and carpeting were replaced, the stage floor was rebuilt complete with a new trap door system, the entire electric grid was fully updated, a new lighting system was installed, and all fly rails were automated.

Patricia Corbett Theatre

This 1971 construction seats 380. It is home to many jazz concerts, ensemble performances, ballets, operas, musical theatre shows, and drama productions. This hall features stadium seating, a hidden and exposable orchestra pit, and a retired pipe organ that sits very decoratively on the stage left side of the hall. During the 2017 renovation, all seats and carpeting were replaced and the lighting system was significantly upgraded.

Robert J. Werner Recital Hall

A 280-seat recital hall acting as CCM's main space for degree-required solo recitals, chamber music concerts, and guest artist masterclasses. Completed in 1999 as part of Mary Emery Hall, the venue is very centrally located at the Northwest corner of CCM plaza, directly accessible from CCM garage. The hall is home to two 9-foot Steinway D pianos (one American and one German) and a Bösendorfer, CCM's only non-Steinway piano. The spacious glass lobby peers directly into UC's football stadium. During the 2017 renovation, the hall received an updated lighting and sound system, including LED backlighting on the large wooden panels that climb up the wall behind the stage.

Watson Recital Hall

The renovated 140-seat recital hall contains a Balcolm and Vaughan organ of 44 ranks, a gift of Mr. and Mrs. John J. Strader, IV. Watson Hall also serves as a fully equipped smart classroom.[4] This hall is a popular choice for students who wish to present more intimate recitals. During the 2017 renovation, this hall received all-new seating.

Cohen Family Studio Theatre

Constructed in 1991, this venue is perhaps CCM's most unique space. Though the atmosphere is like that of a black-box theater, a large brick wall in the shape of an arc on one side limits performances to either facing North or South. However, a full and partially removable balcony, as well as a false floor to allow for pit orchestras or very creative sets adds a great deal of versatility to the space. Each year, this space holds a studio season of 2 musical theater productions, 2 drama productions, a fully student-choreographed ballet concert, and 3 operas (one of which is dedicated to undergraduate vocal students). This hall also holds composer recitals, lighting showcases, and the freshman musical theater showcase. During the 2017 renovation, this hall received new seating as well as a completely new lighting system. Originally marketed as "CCM's gift to Cincinnati", every performance in CFST is free to attend for all.

Campus sculptures[edit]

  • Figura-Prima by Magdalena Abakanowicz (1995) outside of Werner Recital Hall [3]
  • Memorial Fountain to Clara Baur by Clement Barnhorn (1914) in the Alumni Garden [4]
  • Light Mast by James Carpenter (1999) outside the CCM Starbucks [5]
  • The Three Muses by Sam Gilliam (1999) in the CCM Atrium [6]



The College-Conservatory of Music offers a wide array of postgraduate, graduate, and undergraduate degrees in music. Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) degrees are offered in all performance, conducting, and academic areas (except classical guitar and jazz studies) including Ph.D. programs in musicology, music history, and music theory. Doctor of Music Education (DME) degrees are no longer offered. Advanced degrees called Artist Diplomas are available in most performance areas as well. Master of Music (MM) degrees are available in all aforementioned programs, including classical guitar and jazz studies, as well as collaborative piano and music education. All undergraduate music programs are performance-based and attain a Bachelor of Music (BM) degree. A general BA degree is offered in music.

Musical Theater

The musical theater program at CCM is the oldest bachelor's degree granting program in the U.S., the most selective program at the University of Cincinnati, and is considered to be one of the top programs in the nation.{{LearnU}} Just a sampling of their alumni is listed below. According to Playbill, CCM is represented on Broadway the second most of any institution for the 2017-2018 season.


CCM Opera and vocal studies is currently ranked second in the nation.[5] The Masters program focuses heavily on stage experience, vocal technique, coaching, and academic musicality to craft a reliable and prepared performer. Masters students and recent alumni are very well represented in the nation's top young artist programs, including the Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, and Opera Theater Saint Louis. Each March, CCM holds the Corbett Competition, a vocal competition eligible to students accepted to or returning to CCM's graduate opera program, featuring 5 prizes including full-tuition scholarships plus $10,000 to $15,000 in cash prizes with each award. The undergraduate voice program is especially focused, with only 6-10 students in each class, ensuring ample nurturement for each young talent. A highlight of the program is the yearly undergraduate opera, which is performed with orchestra, double-cast, and fully supported with lights, sets, and costumes.

Dramatic and Technical Theater

The majority of programs related to the school's theater departments are undergraduate, though a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree is offered in theater design and production. Undergraduate BFA degrees are more specialized in areas such as musical theatre and acting. It is also one of only two schools in the country to offer BFA and MFA programs in Makeup and Wig Design, the other being North Carolina School of the Arts, whose Wig and Makeup program was started by a graduate of CCM.


The dance study at CCM has a ballet-emphasis. The department only offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in dance, though the faculty is of equivalent numbers and standards as other departments.

Arts administration

CCM offers both an MA in Arts Administration and a dual MBA/MA in Arts Administration in conjunction with the University of Cincinnati's College of Business. The program is highly business oriented and is focused on preparing students to lead and manage arts organizations.

Electronic media

The largest and fastest growing program at CCM is electronic media. The program offers a general Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree in electronic media, but students often choose specializations as part of their program including broadcasting, radio production, and television production. Electronic Media student organizations include Bearcast (UC's student radio station) and UCast (student-run campus television station).

Distinctions and chairs[edit]

  • Donna, Ralph, and Julia Cohen Chair in Drama
  • Patricia A. Corbett Distinguished Chair of Musical Theatre
  • J. Ralph Corbett Distinguished Chair of Opera
  • Dieterle Chair of Music
  • Thomas J. Kelly Professor
  • Dorothy Richard Starling Chair in Classical Violin
  • Joseph Weinberger Chair of Acting

Noted faculty[edit]

Noted alumni[edit]



External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°07′47″N 84°31′06″W / 39.12969°N 84.51821°W / 39.12969; -84.51821