In 1985, Dr. Paul Blaney (a member of Coral Gables Congregational Church and administrator at the University of Miami) initiated a Summer Concert Series composed primarily of up-and-coming local artists. The historic Coral Gables Congregational Church (CGCC)–with its central location, Spanish-revival style architecture, and acoustically pleasing and uniquely intimate environment–became an immediate attraction for audiences and concert artists. The success of initial concerts catapulted the Series into a yearly roster of world-renowned classical and jazz artists who appear in major concert halls around the world.
In 2002, current Executive & Artistic Director Mark Hart formed the Coral Gables Congregational Church (CGCC) Community Arts Program (CAP) to (a) engage greater community outreach initiatives and (b) implement Young Musicians’ Summer Master Classes that provide professional insights and coaching, to young musicians, by renowned artists appearing on the CGCC Community Arts Program Summer Concert Series.
In 2003, the CGCC CAP Conservatory for the Arts was established. The primary focus of the Conservatory for the Arts is to offer affordable (sliding-scale tuition based on need), superior music training to all youth, despite their circumstance. This award-winning program (winner of the Artist Impact Award from the Children’s Cultural Coalition), provides high-quality after-school curricula for children, ages 8-18. Saturday Music Classes encompass weekly instrument lessons in tandem with music theory, recital performance and juried evaluations. Thursday evening performance ensembles include the Young Musicians’ Junior, Intermediate and Advanced Orchestras and the Young Musicians’ ALL-STAR Jazz Ensemble.
In 2011, an additional teaching tool was added to the CGCC CAP Conservatory for the Arts learning experience: CAP Records. The CAP Records label provides a platform for young musicians’ recording projects. With this, CGCC CAP Conservatory for the Arts students learn the art of studio musicianship, recording production and marketing in the 21st century. The first CAP Records project was completed and released in summer 2011. This initial CAP Records release features the work of the CGCC Community Arts Program ALL-STAR Jazz Ensemble in a CD titled With a Swing!