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McGill University campus is seen in Montreal. McGill University says it's decided to wind down the school's century-old music conservatory amid rising operational costs and falling attendance.Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

McGill University says it has decided to wind down the school’s century-old music conservatory amid rising operational costs and falling attendance.

The university says it reached “sobering, yet unavoidable” conclusions that made clear the Conservatory was “no longer financially viable nor sustainable.”

Since it was founded in 1904, the Conservatory offered free space to aspiring young musicians through its music school, with private lessons to McGill students and the local community.

But the university pointed to a significant drop in attendance in recent years.

It says before the pandemic there were more than 550 students taking private lessons, and now those enrolments are projected not to exceed 100 students for the coming year.

Last year, those numbers had already started to drop, with online lessons seeing fewer than 300 students.

For years, McGill’s Schulich School of Music provided the Conservatory with free administrative and teaching space, but the university says those resources are now at a “critical premium” as the school expands its university-level programs.

McGill says the Conservatory will wind down by the end of the summer with current students finishing their courses.

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