One on One—Weise's calling is nurturing the arts
Linda Weise leads a troupe of instructors that train the Mozarts and Shakespeares of tomorrow.
She founded the Colorado Springs Conservatory in 1994, a preparatory school for young performing artists, and many of her graduates have attended some of the nation’s most esteemed performing arts schools.
For Weise, finding her current career in the arts meant finding herself as well.
She took time recently to tell CSBJ about herself and her business.
- Organization: Colorado Springs Conservatory
- Position: Founding director
- Hometown: Buffalo, N.Y.
- How long have you lived in Colorado Springs: Since 1992
- Education: Bachelor’s of music and master’s of music from Oberlin Conservatory, Oberlin, Ohio, piano and vocal performance. Post graduate studies at The Juilliard School, vocal performance/opera studies. Summer studies at Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, N.Y., and Aspen Music Festival, Aspen, Colo.
- A few words about your company: The Colorado Springs Conservatory is a preparatory school for the performing arts. Youth, ages 3 through 19 come from a 60 mile radius after school and on the weekends to study music and theater and all classes and curriculum involved.
Graduates of the conservatory gain entrance to many of the finest arts universities, conservatories and colleges across the nation, including Oberlin Conservatory, New England Conservatory, Berklee School of Music, New York University Tisch School, Boston Conservatory, Stanford University, Columbia Univer-sity and American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Faculty members are some of the region’s finest performing artists and educators. The conservatory has become a second home to visiting faculty from Juilliard School and many professional organizations.
- Recent accomplishments: Each spring the graduating class is accepted to some of the nation’s top tiered arts upper learning institutions.
- Biggest career break: After my studies at Juilliard, I was recruited as a trading assistant for Citicorp Investment Bank on Wall Street and worked there for almost three years.
I have always felt that the day I walked away from a Wall Street career and an all expense paid MBA was a turning point/career break for me, because I had come to know that my life would never be complete without music in it every day.
My biggest “career break” was when I unexpectedly founded the Colorado Springs Conservatory and found my true passion in performing arts education and community involvement.
- The toughest part of your job: If I were to truly think about it, the toughest part emotionally is accepting the enormous amount of trust that each student and his or her family gives me as I, along with the faculty and staff of the conservatory, guide them toward achieving not only their personal best, but the goal of the best continued education.
Logistically speaking, the toughest part of operating the conservatory is funding.
- Someone you admire: I would have to say, my parents. The more I deal with children and their parents, the more I realize how much I learned from my own.
They taught me very simple things like never say “I can’t,” “always do your best,” and “you will never know until you try.”
- About your family: I am the oldest of four girls, and we now all reside along the Front Range.
My parents recently moved to Monument, leaving their roots and families in Buffalo. My husband, Keith Wells, runs the backside of the school, Web site, financials, legal, etc., and is a 22-year Marine veteran.
We have two beautiful daughters, C.C., 11, and Kelsy, 7.
- Something else you’d like to accomplish: I would like to see my own children through to some of the learning institutions that so many of the conservatory students are accepted to.
- How your business will change in the next decade: I see the conservatory in its own building in downtown. The students will be close to government and the core of their city and they gain an even better understanding of the role arts play in a community.
- What book are you currently reading? “The Heart Aroused, Poetry and Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America,” by David Whyte
- What is the one thing you would change about Colorado Springs? I would place more attention and work to heighten awareness of Colorado Springs citizens towards the “core” of our city, our downtown-the need to define ourselves through our city center.