To celebrate its move to 821 Commercial St., Midcoast Music Academy is hosting a virtual open house on Friday, Nov. 20, at 5:45 p.m. MCMA will be streaming live while giving a virtual tour of the new facility, hosting live student performances, and interviewing the director.

To finish off the open house, MCMA will be hosting a virtual performance from 6:30 to 7 p.m. by the Clockworks Ensemble, an electro-acoustic trio composed of two faculty members, Tom Luther on keys/guitar/processes and Abi Nash on violin/viola, and Mike Whitehead on bass/flugelhorn. They will be performing brand new works for trio and computer. These pieces are electronic "sandboxes" for improvisers, spaces for the human musicians to explore and create in, with changing walls. Composer Tom Luther used tools in Ableton Live, and designed some in Max, to create active environments for the musicians to work with.

This concert is intended as a fundraiser to kickstart the "Fill Our Halls with Music" Campaign as MCMA works to raise $50,000 to assist with renovation costs. If you wish to donate to the campaign or purchase tickets to the concert, please visit midcoastmusicacademy.com/fill-our-halls-with-music.

Midcoast Music Academy was founded in 2012 by Berklee School of Music alum Tom Ulichny and his wife, Anne Bardaglio. What began as a single instructor in one room above a Rockland Main Street business quickly grew into three instructors working with dozens of students. In 2015, MCMA moved to its current home at 279 Main St. in Rockland, and quickly outgrew its space once again.  After receiving a Community Development Block Grant in 2016, the school was able to expand its studios to more than double their size. In 2018 the school achieved 501c3 non-profit status, developed its board and launched a new era. In July of 2019, Jen Feldman joined the MCMA team as executive director. The school now serves more than 180 students of all ages among six instructors, as well as offering community programming and performances throughout the Midcoast.

When COVID-19 closed the Midcoast community in early 2020, MCMA quickly adjusted to an online format for lessons and ensembles. Part of the academy's mission is to remove all barriers to music education, so the decision to acquire and learn the necessary technology to make the shift to remote teaching was an easy one.

One lesson that the pandemic and all of its repercussions has taught us is that it is extremely important to stay connected. MCMA’s instructors heard repeatedly during Maine’s Stay Safe at Home period that weekly online lessons provided one of the few opportunities for students to be able to communicate in a meaningful way with someone outside of their household, and that the music allowed them to focus and escape into creativity and even joy for a time.

This summer, MCMA began to offer limited in-person lessons and ensembles, thanks to the generosity of Maine Boats Homes & Harbors Magazine in allowing MCMA to use their event space on Winter Street, which afforded adequate square footage and ventilation. This fall, MCMA gratefully accepted the hospitality of The Strand Theatre in order to continue in-person ensembles. It became clear quickly that their current studio space would no longer suit their needs in a post-pandemic world, and the search for a new home began immediately.

That new home was eventually found at 821 Commercial St. in Rockport. Formerly the offices of Dr. Robert Merrill, the building suits the music academy’s needs perfectly. Exam rooms have become lesson studios and larger office and meeting spaces have become lab and ensemble spaces. The space is light, open, warm and comfortable, and stands on its own within the Oakland Commons office park. The brand new HVAC system and additional filters provide excellent ventilation, and each lesson space has exterior windows. The building gives MCMA room to continue its expansion while providing COVID safety, accessibility to students of all ages, dedicated parking and a convenient Route 1 location.

While the school is sad to leave Rockland’s Main Street, the opportunities that their new building provides are simply too good to ignore. In addition to its enhanced physical space, MCMA will continue to offer online lessons to any students, anywhere in the world.

Midcoast Music Academy opens its new doors and welcomes families Nov. 30.