Thayer Conservatory began as the music department at Atlantic Union College, founded in 1882. From the very beginning, music was integral to the curriculum; archival photos show choirs and orchestras filled with young students. As the music department grew in size, it took residence in Founder's Hall, which is the oldest Seventh-day Adventist educational building. In 1972, the music department outgrew Founder's. It was relocated to Thayer Hall, under the direction of the head of the department, Jon Robertson (the first African American to obtain a doctorate from The Juilliard School). The department flourished in the Thayer mansion; many excellent concerts were performed in the beautiful Red Room. Not long after, Mark Churchill, a young cellist with a heart for music education, started a preparatory music department in the building. The Thayer prep department was modeled after the prep department of New England Conservatory, the oldest music school in the country.
Since 1972 thousands of students have studied music in the inspiring Thayer Hall. Our former Thayer students hold faculty and performance positions in prestigious conservatories, chamber ensembles, and orchestras including the New England Conservatory of Music, the Longy School of Music, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, to name a few. Today, Thayer Conservatory's faculty is committed to providing expert instruction and outstanding performance opportunities for their students. Through a performance-based curriculum, students’ passion, skill, and determination result in an extraordinary musical experience for all ages and abilities.
After Atlantic Union College closed its doors in 2018, the Youth Ensemble of New England leased the Thayer Mansion and continued running the music school until the building was sold in 2021. Currently, the school is located at the College Church with encouragement from church leaders. Although our venue has changed, the music continues. The faculty and staff at Thayer Conservatory are dedicated to teaching music. Music brings people from diverse backgrounds together and is of critical importance in building the minds and abilities of young people. We believe that perseverance, diligence, and dedication learned from studying music result in accomplishment and service in many other areas of life. Our mission extends beyond our school to enrich our broader community through music and the arts.