City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

Incredible Cast of Characters Behind the Colorado Springs Conservatory

​​​​​​​Viva Las Vegas, Polish Nuns, Piano and Ballet Add up to an Influential Institution

Article by Kristian DePue

Photography by Jeff Grady & Colorado Springs Conservatory

Originally published in Colorado Springs Lifestyle

After spending summers at the Aspen Music Festival, the talented Linda Weise fell in love with the mountains — and eventually transplanted to the Centennial State in 1992. As a trained opera singer, Weise could live anywhere as long as she was near an airport. Initially, she considered Denver, but drove down Interstate 25 to explore southern Colorado.

“I stopped in Colorado Springs and there was a symphony concert that night,” Weise says. “I attended the performance and thought, ‘A city this size that has an orchestra that good has so much potential.’”

After moving to the region of “purple mountain majesties,” she performed a few gigs and was quickly approached by parents to teach their children. She began instructing out of a house, but soon founded the Colorado Springs Conservatory in ‘94 with 14 students.

In the 28 years since, the Conservatory has grown into an integral element of Colorado Springs’ culture—and nationally recognized. The Conservatory provides premiere training in the performance arts. Now, more than 40 mentors motivate and challenge students in film scoring, instrumental music, theory, theater, recording and much, much more.

When Weise was only a child in New York, her parents recognized she had an inclination for music, and her mother started teaching her piano at age three. At five, her parents drove her to Buffalo to study piano under the Felician Sisters at Villa Maria.

“Those beautiful Polish nuns were total badasses,” Weise says. “I didn’t start singing until high school when I had a band doing covers of Fleetwood Mac, Blondie, Pat Benatar and Carole King. I also joined choir and participated in musicals. I started studying voice around 16, and realized that I had a big, operatic voice. I later went to Oberlin Conservatory for piano and voice”—and later, Juilliard for performance arts.

Weise is the founder of the Colorado Springs Conservatory, but has trusted leadership to Scott Marble after a quarter-century—Weise has decided to focus on other endeavors. Marble is the Conservatory’s Interim CEO, with years of trained experience in both performance arts and hospitality.

A Springs resident since the millennium, Marble is well-known through years as a manager at Garden of the Gods Resort & Club and a director at Cheyenne Mountain Resort. Before Colorado, Marble earned a degree in hospitality while discovering a passion for classical ballet. After study at The Boston Ballet School, Marble danced professionally for a decade across the States, including Sin City. Retiring from stage, he moved from Vegas to Colorado Springs with his wife: a Springs native and ballet dancer, herself.

Since ’99, Marble admired the Conservatory—a believer in the importance of art progressed onward. With years of experience, Marble knew the arts were applicable and invaluable. Now, he advances the arts’ important impact as the Conservatory’s interim CEO. At the helm, Marble continues the Conservatory’s ongoing impression upon Springs’ culture.

“What I appreciate most about our students is their courage and resiliency,” says Adam Haas, program director and lead music mentor. “Our students participate in hundreds of performance and outreach events every year, many require them to step out of their comfort zone. It's through these experiences they gain a tremendous amount of self-confidence, and I'm so proud how they respond with courage and determination.”

A former student and now mentor, David Musante, says: “Transitioning to a mentor was seamless; I was already acclimated to the Conservatory’s values. Students feel at home when they walk in. That feeling of home opens the kind of vulnerability being an artist requires. Students aren't afraid to make mistakes. Our environment fosters growth for young creatives.” 

Meredith Benét, a student, concurs: “Everyone at the Conservatory is welcoming, kind and uplifting. It frees students to feel comfortable to create, and the music showcases that.” 

The Conservatory provides performances across the community, including shows at the novel Epiphany and the culinary collective, COATI Uprise. Benét is an upcoming graduate who has performed multiple times at the downtown boutique hotel Kinship Landing. Benét’s future goals are to be a professional songwriter and performer. This fall, she will be attending Belmont University in Nashville—the school of her choice.

“I’m grateful for the opportunities to perform around town,” Benét says. “The Springs is expanding and the music footprint will grow with it.”

Benét continues: “The mentors have impacted my life, providing the opportunity to pursue music. Linda Weise has given countless students a place where they feel both heard and loved. The Conservatory is a place of joy, where music moves. For me, Linda’s work is just the start of a powerful legacy that I’m very grateful to be a part of.”

The Conservatory is currently working toward a monumental move into the 99-year-old Colorado Springs City Auditorium. Also, Weise—along with her talented singer-songwriter daughter, Christina “CC” Wells of CC and the Silhouettes—is producing a Rocky Mountain PBS show, Simple Gift Series, which in 2022 has quickly expanded nationally.

Simple Gift Series is a lifetime project,” says Wells, who attended Webster Conservatory’s prestigious musical theatre program. “It’s been teaching children from every background for nearly 30 years. The values and education instilled are priceless, which is why we decidedly put it on public broadcasting. My mom is truly fulfilling her purpose.”

With regards to the pedigree of students the Conservatory mentors, Interim CEO Scott Marble says: “Some students will go on to be engineers or dentists, but only minor in music. However, they’ll always have that invaluable discipline from the Conservatory. Music is not only an opportunity for scholarships but an understood cognitive discipline that benefits several other spheres. Our institution sets up students with skills for success.”

Facebook and Instagram: @csconservatory