Less than three months after signing a lease and choosing its name, the new Deanery School of Music has its first executive director, Rishi Wagle of Bettendorf.
A 2016 graduate of Pleasant Valley High School and a 2020 graduate of Brown University, he will work with the board and Hannah Holman, the school’s artistic director, to address many initiatives associated with the start of this new and unique cultural organization serving the Quad-Cities.
At Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, Wagle majored in music with minors in theatre arts and computer science. He has played piano and violin since he was a child. As an AmeriCorps fellow, he created and taught a math curriculum for tutoring high school students of low-income and under-privileged background through a company called Saga Education.
At Brown, Wagle served as Technical Director of Alumnae Hall, was a Coding Club instructor for the French American School of Rhode Island, and taught students in piano technique, coding skills, music theory, and music composition. Among his tasks for the Deanery will be assisting the board and its volunteers in raising money for building restoration and renovation, program development, faculty recruitment, and development of a needs-and-talent driven scholarship fund and an instrument library.
The Deanery School of Music is at 1103 Main Street, in Davenport, at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, and officially incorporated as the nonprofit Quad City Music Academy. The building -- a 90-year old stone and concrete facility, whose original use was as a residence -- has been vacant over 10 years. It is about 5,500 square feet and will offer multiple-sized areas for instruction and performances. In December, the nonprofit entered into a 15-year lease with Trinity Cathedral for the property.
As a music school, it will be a venue for high-quality music instruction, performance and collaboration. Private and group lessons will be offered, initially in cello, violin, viola, and bass for students seeking advanced training in preparation for careers in music.
Wagle – whose mother is on the educational committee of the Quad City Symphony board – wants to foster a collaborative relationship with the Symphony, since it has its own private lessons program. Holman is principal cellist with the QCSO.
“We don't want to be seen as competitors, necessarily, to the Quad City Symphony. We want to be seen as collaborators with the Quad City Symphony in bringing and increasing the opportunities for music education here in the Quad-Cities.”
The Deanery wanted to add his position because Holman is very busy with her faculty positions, teaching, and performing schedules.
“Ultimately, it's just been a lot, I think, for her to balance, building this organization from the ground up with her already existing duties.”
Wagle says it’s a really good fit – for Holman to handle the artistic vision and faculty for the school and he'll handle administration, logistics, fundraising, and building maintenance. He wants to partner in a positive way with the symphony.
“I think the most important element to this is transparent communication between the two groups and constant open communication, because, you know, we don't want any ill will to be happening in either organization based on like rumors about feelings for the other organization, if that makes sense.”
He hopes the Deanery will serve a need for students who can’t afford lessons and want to play music other than classical, while encouraging them to take part in the symphony’s youth ensembles.
“One of the things we’re potentially looking at, at the Deanery School of Music is offering music courses that are not necessarily fully classically focused, which also ties back to one of our other goals, which is increasing our offerings with diversity and music students that we see here in the Quad-Cities and giving opportunities to people who may not be able to afford these lessons.”
“Unfortunately, as much as I love classical music and I'm a classical musician myself. But it has a history of elitism, which can be sort of off-putting many times to students of diverse backgrounds. Something I think you might be looking at is offering music course and music education outside of just classical music as a way to increase the diversity of music students as well as to support students from backgrounds and also differentiate our program as more from what the symphony might be offering with the private lesson program.”
With faculty from around the country, the school can offer virtual lessons, as well as serve students outside the Quad-Cities. Music lessons will be available on a sliding fee scale based on economic need. Wagle is focusing on raising money for the $200,000 building renovation; half has been raised so far.
For more information on the school, visit www.quadcitymusicacademy.org.