UPDATED JUNE 14

Midcoast Music Academy founders to leave

By Dagney C. Ernest | May 17, 2017
Courtesy of: Anne Bardaglio Tom Ulichny and Anne Bardaglio stand in front of Rockland’s downtown Midcoast Music Academy.

Rockland — The downtown Midcoast Music Academy, which has grown from a one-lesson-room space and 30 students to a 2,100-square-foot suite with a faculty and more than 120 students (plus 40 on the wait list), is looking for a new hand at the wheel.

Founder/director Tom Ulichny and his wife, Anne Bardaglio, MCMA’s programs and operations manager, announced May 16 that they will be relocating to Ithaca, N.Y., this summer to be closer to their families.

“This has been an incredibly difficult decision, but … it's the right next step for us at this time,” Ulichny wrote in the MCMA spring newsletter.

In the time since MCMA opened its doors in 2012 — those doors being above E.C. Moran Insurance on Main Street — the music school has expanded exponentially. In 2014, it moved into the multi-tenant building at the corner of Main Street and Park Drive; and in 2016, it expanded that space to almost double in order to accommodate a growing faculty and student base.

Last year, the small business also began the process of becoming a nonprofit — a logical step for an organization with a mission “to provide excellent, accessible music education to any committed student” and a policy of never turning one away. From its first year, the school has fundraised to provide scholarships for some of its private students, who have ranged from age 4 to 70-something and study classical to jazz, rock, pop and blues. This year, MCMA has awarded more than $25,000 to deserving scholarship recipients.

Berklee College of Music graduate Ulichny and his faculty also have partnered with 14 schools and organizations throughout the state to provide workshops, seminars and supplemental programming. Since its founding, MCMA has delivered lessons to more than 700 students and forged partnerships with North Atlantic Blues Fest, Maine Lobster Festival, Strand Theatre, Island Institute and RSU 13.

The need to provide support and presence for their family members brought the couple to their unexpected decision.

“It's amazing how the universe can change things on a dime,” Ulichny said.

This spring, the couple started to realize their priority is to be close to family, he said. And they realized something else, too.

“The school can continue to grow and thrive without us — we've laid the foundation, and we've modeled it as a community music school, and therefore, it really belongs to the community,” he said.

Ulichny and Bardaglio plan to make a gift of the school and all of its assets to an individual or organization willing to continue the mission and spirit of the school. Facilities include six lesson rooms and one large ensemble room, all professionally equipped and soundproofed. There is a secured lease with Main Street frontage and the ability to expand.

The newsletter indicated the couple are currently in discussions with several nonprofit organizations (interested parties may request a summary of total assets and liabilities by contacting Ulichny). And they promised to remain actively involved throughout the upcoming transition. Their personal transition will include putting their beloved St. George house — “a lovely old fixer-upper that we've done a ton of work on over the past five years” — on the market.

Bardaglio, an adjunct professor at Unity College the past two years, has been offered a good position at a charter school in Ithaca doing curriculum development, as well as teaching. And Ulichny is slated to perform his soon-to-be-released EP in coming weeks on WCLZ in Portland. Opening an April 14 concert at the Strand, he previewed a trilogy from the EP that documents the wrenching process that brought him and his wife to their decision.

The three tunes encompass anger, acceptance and gratitude. The latter is reflected in a song titled “Other Hand” and includes the lyrics: “I won't hold on/Just 'cause I built it/I don't own it/It's just borrowed to give away.”

UPDATE FROM JUNE 14 MCMA NEWSLETTER (FROM ANNE BARDAGLIO):

Tom and I have decided to stay in Maine and reevaluate our decision to relocate at a later date. Our decision comes down to this simple fact: we are torn between the school we have founded and the community we love in Maine and our family in New York. Tom and I began this process with clear options on the table for the school -- options we felt excited about and confident in. As the spring has progressed, we have realized that it would be preemptive for us to step away from MCMA at this time -- the school is in an active growth period, which would make any transition, regardless of how well-intentioned or well-managed it might have been -- difficult at best. We promised each other -- and many of you -- that we would not step away unless and until there was a responsible exit pathway.


Comments (1)
Posted by: Maggie Trout | May 17, 2017 17:13

Just something - Cornell has a Gamelan  ensemble that accepts people from the community https://seap.einaudi.cornell.edu/cornell-gamelan-ensemble  And there is not a shortage of African music and multiculturalism.  But this stinks.  Be well.



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