Ten years of dreaming for Hannah Holman finally became reality Friday morning, as she helped cut the ribbon for the new Deanery School of Music.

After completing $235,000 in renovations to the historic two-story building at 1103 Main St., Davenport, the new music school next to Trinity Episcopal Cathedral will open for classes on Monday, January 17.

“I am so, so excited and pleased to be here today,” Holman — the Deanery’s founder and artistic director, principal cellist of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra and cellist for the New York City Ballet — said outside the front door Friday. “This dream of finding an exquisite location for music education in the Quad Cities has come true.”

Hannah Holman, principal cellist for the QCSO and cellist for the New York City Ballet orchestra, at Friday’s ribbon-cutting (photo by Jonathan Turner).

The Deanery School of Music is a non-profit organization created to provide an inclusive home for high-quality music instruction, performance, and collaboration in the Quad Cities region. It seeks to enrich and enhance the cultural and social fabric of the community through music and education.

Holman has been a QCSO member for 16 years and principal cello for the last 14. “I noticed there were so many great musical things happening, but thought there was room for more and an opportunity for all that was happening sewn together, so as to make it mutually beneficial,” she said Friday.

She started looking for buildings in 2012, but a year later, started playing in the New York City Ballet orchestra, so put the search on hold.

Holman first looked at the Deanery (which was built in 1930 and had been vacant since 2009) in August 2018. After much research and discussion, she decided to forge ahead.

The Deanery School of Music, 1103 Main St., Davenport, was originally built in 1930 and had been vacant since 2009.

“This building, which impressed me so much on that August day, is for everyone,” she said Friday. “This building is uplifting and inspiring. It allows people to dream, and I want everyone entering these doors to feel they can dream and aspire to be anything they want to be.”

“We have an amazing faculty,” Holman said. “Lots of them have performed all over the globe. They teach at major universities and they know this community.”

They’re offering lessons in Suzuki violin, cello, chamber music, Alexander technique, music literacy, and there will be master classes, lectures and concerts. Eventually, there will be a music tech program, jazz classes and organ instruction. There’s a need-based scholarship program the Deanery is working on, so that everyone can afford to take lessons.

“I really feel like a seamstress, sewing all the great things that are here together – and adding a centralized, gorgeous location and maybe adding a splash of this and that,” Holman said.

Whether or not students become professional musicians, “having had training and exposure to music is known to help in every area and every profession,” she said. “This is for the Quad Cities. Please do not hesitate to come to us with what you’d like to see offered and any suggestions.”

Friday’s ribbon-cutting was attended by Molly Otting, executive director of Hilltop Campus Village, Davenport Mayor Mike Matson, former Hilltop director Scott Tunnicliff, project donors, members of Trinity, and school staff and students.

Reactions from others

Dean John Horn of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral is thrilled to have the Deanery school in the historic building, which is owned by the cathedral. Originally built as a residence for the Episcopal Bishop of Iowa, the diocese had the bishop move to Des Moines in 1945. Since then, the building was occupied by the deans (or senior pastors) of Trinity Cathedral, until 2009.

Trinity Cathedral Dean John Horn speaks at Friday’s event (photo by Jonathan Turner).

“It continues the long commitment, the almost two-century commitment of Trinity Cathedral to education, to the community and to the service of the community, and to musical excellence as well,” Dean Horn said of the music school.

Trinity was responsible for the founding of the former St. Katharine’s School (now Rivermont Collegiate), and St. Luke’s Hospital (now part of Genesis), he said.

One of Holman’s star cello students, North Scott senior Aviana Holst, spoke in support of the new school.

North Scott High senior Aviana Holst, who studies cello with Holman, speaks Friday at the Deanery (photo by Jonathan Turner).

“I have been excited about this ever since Hannah told me this was a possibility, and I can’t believe that it’s finally happening,” she said. “I’ve been a music student in the Quad Cities for 11 years, starting when I was a piano student at tiny 7 years old.”

“What I missed was kind of a centralization that would make it easier for people to come together and make music,” Holst said. “There wasn’t a place where I could access high levels of instruction easily, like I could in Iowa City or Chicago.

“What I think is so amazing about the Deanery is that they’re going to provide that for students here, for the next generations of students who come up after me,” she said.

It’s also difficult to access classical music, especially renting or buying instruments, Holst said. “This can prevent a lot of students from reaching their full potential. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the incredible generosity of so many of my teachers and other people helping out with loaning me instruments, and all the stuff you need to get you where you want to go.”

The main room of the Deanery School of Music, formerly used as a residence for the Episcopal Bishop of Iowa, and since 1945, the deans of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, which owns the building (photo by Jonathan Turner).

“Scholarships are vitally important to help people access classical music, and these are voices we need to the future of music,” she added. “We need more diversity and people from all different backgrounds to take classical music in the future.”

“Even though it’s snowy and cloudy, to us it’s a bright and sunny day,” said Joseph Lohmuller, president of the Deanery board. He’s had Holman perform several concerts at his home, with other QCSO musicians.

Deanery school board president Joseph Lohmuller speaks at Friday’s event (photo by Jonathan Turner).

“We have great aspirations for the future,” he said, noting key Deanery financial supporters are Hubbell-Waterman Foundation, Bechtel Trust, Moline Foundation, Scott County Regional Authority, Trinity Cathedral, Mark and Rita Bawden, the Churchill Family Foundation, and the Wagle family.

“The board is especially indebted to Steve Wiese, with Extensive Services, LLC, who performed the renovation of this outstanding facility and really has brought it back to life,” Lohmuller said. “He has really shared the vision of how we can have a space to serve our students and the community.”

At one time, there was discussion of demolishing the building, he noted. Holman brings extensive expertise and “the highest level of instruction and skill” to the new school.

Wagle, the executive director, “has really done an outstanding job and brings the credentials of his music degree from Brown University, and also is an accomplished vocalist and pianist,” Lohmuller said. “He also is in a master’s degree program at the University of Iowa in music education – which fits perfectly with his role here with our school.”

Plans for the school

Rishi Wagle said the Bechtel Trust gave a $50,000 grant for the project early this month, and school fundraising began in late 2020.

Rishi Wagle, the school’s executive director and a master’s student at University of Iowa, speaks at Friday’s event, flanked by Hannah Holman, Dean John Horn, Ron May, and Joseph Lohmuller (photo by Jonathan Turner).

They hope to host small concerts in the main room, with a beautiful donated grand piano. The 1910s-era piano was given by Ina Clegg of Chicago, who had no prior connection to the QC, but heard about the school through social media, Wagle said.

“I kind of took a gamble on it, in a sense,” he said, adding he hadn’t seen it person before and it was just tuned on Thursday. “It sounds beautiful now.”

The donated grand piano in the Deanery’s main performance room (photo by Jonathan Turner).

One of the Deanery’s teachers (Ben Lorentzen of the QCSO) will host a small student recital (viola and violin) there on Saturday, Jan. 22. Other local teachers include Scott Sund (cello) and Jenn Swift (piano), Wagle said.

The Deanery does not charge its faculty to use the building for private lessons and recitals, he said. “We’re really just wanting to make this an accessible space. We want it to become a centralized home for music education, and I think our faculty members, many of them are excited about the opportunities of collaborations with other musicians, other teachers.”

“This space and the resources we now have as a school, we’re able to offer group classes,” Wagle said. “Many private teachers are teaching from their homes. That doesn’t give them the resources or access for them to host bigger events.”

The school’s library restoration was sponsored by the Wagle family (photo by Jonathan Turner).

Holman said there will be some overlap with the long-running QCSO private lessons program, with instructors, but the Deanery will complement what is offered.

“Some students may hear the same thing, but said in a different way,” she said. “I think, I just love we have a location, and a beautiful location. And they start to feel at home here and make new connections.”

Holman has not taught through the QCSO lesson program, but some faculty are teaching in both. You can find a complete list of Deanery faculty, with bios and costs for lessons, on the school website.