Fine Arts

Love the Arts – Appreciate the Arts – Create the Arts

Welcome to the Montverde Academy Fine and Performing Arts page! Montverde has a diverse and dynamic Fine Arts program including vocal music, theatre, band, orchestra, piano, crafts, ceramics, two-dimensional art, sculpture and photography. We offer 5 AP level fine arts classes and we have a strong record of sending students to some of the top Fine and Performing Arts college programs in America including Berklee College of Music, Columbia, Otterbein, University of Central Florida, Stetson University, Rollins College, Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, and Savannah College of Art and Design.

Our programs are hands on and all levels of students participate in the arts. Freshmen through seniors earn roles in our high school theatre productions and our top music groups feature a mix of talented, well trained performers. Each school division has its own fine arts programs for music, theatre, and visual art but Montverde Academy also encourages cooperation between all three levels. At least one full stage musical a year is open to students at every grade level and our Service of Lessons and Carols, the Holiday Stroll, and the Fine Arts Fest are all cooperative activities.

We are very proud of our Fine Arts Fest, a unique festival which is held every year in the spring. Students from all divisions and all areas of the arts come together to produce a fest celebrating the arts. We have hands on displays, performances, interactive games and an international food court which fills the outdoor space in front of our fine arts buildings. The carnival-like atmosphere is fun for students and families as well as invited community artists who demonstrate their skills and tutor children in their field of expertise. The day turns to night and the fest moves inside to the auditorium with a concert featuring works of theatre and music produced by Montverde students and celebrity guests.

Our auditorium is the Sandra O. Stephens Fine Arts Center which has a 450 seat, acoustically balanced theatre where we produce all of our main stage shows and concerts. The building also houses our dramatic and technical theatre programs as well as our visual art rooms, ceramics studio, and photography labs. Immediately beside the theatre is the newest Fine Arts building, the Performing and Media Arts Center. This state-of-the-art building contains a large band and orchestra suite, choral rooms, a music theory computer and listening lab, TV production facility, numerous practice rooms and a piano lab.

Our piano lab is actually one of the best in central Florida – high school or college – housing 20 Kawai digital pianos, 3 acoustic console pianos, a Steinway spinet, a 5 foot Chickering Grand, and our newest addition, a 9 foot Estonia concert grand piano. In fact, our top notch facilities are often used by the school and by the central Florida community to host small and large arts events including choir retreats, solo and ensemble contests, Florida MPA choral contests, and music and theatre master classes.

Montverde believes in bringing in the best talent from our community and across the nation to help enrich our fine arts programs. Some of our past visiting artists and master class teachers have included New York conductor, director, and composer T.O. Sterett, visual artist Parker Sketch, Rollins College Theatrical designer Lisa Cody-Rapport, renown choral composer and conductor Dr. David Bruner, and Metropolitan Opera finalist Ben Gulley.

Mr. Gulley was also our guest performer at the first “Tenor’s Tradition” concert which Montverde Academy sponsored at the 3,000 seat Bob Carr Auditorium in downtown Orlando. On stage with Mr. Gulley was the 200 voice Florida Voices choir, organized and directed by our Fine Arts Department Chair Aubrey Connelly, and the 60 piece M.A.Y.S. Orchestra, another of our partners in fine arts education, under the baton of Maureen Mays.

Our Fine Arts instructors are experienced teachers and artists in their own rights.

aubrey-connelly-candelario-100   Mr. Aubrey Connelly – Fine Arts Department Chair, Upper School Choral, Piano, AP Music Theory
  • Bachelors of Music from Rollins College, Florida
  • Montverde Academy Upper School Teacher of the Year
  • Presidential Award for High School Musical Excellence
  • Memberships include:
    National Association for Music Educators, National Association of Teachers of Singing, Florida Vocal Association, Winter Park Musicale, National Federation of Music Clubs, Tri-M Music Honor Society Club Sponsor
hanrich-claassen-100   Mr. Hanrich Claassen – Instrumental Music, Orchestra and Band, all three divisions
  • Bachelor of Music in Piano and Cello – University of the Free State, South Africa
  • Master’s Degree in Chamber Music – University of the Free State, South Africa
  • Teacher’s Licentiate with Distinction – University of South Africa
  • Conductor of the Asian Pacific Activities Conference String Orchestra Festival
cyndi-cunningham-100   Ms. Cyndi Cunningham – Lower School Theatre and Dramatic Arts
  • Bachelors of Theatre Arts from Florida State University
mary-mincy-100   Mrs. Mary Mincy – Music Instructor & Accompanist
  • Bachelors of Science, University of Evansville with a Florida Teaching Certificate for K-12 Music
  • Memberships include:
    Music Honor Society, Women’s Jazz Ensemble, National Association for Music Educators, Music Teachers National Association, Central Florida Music Teachers’ Association, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia
joshua-neel-100   Mr. Joshua Neel – Visual Arts Instructor, Upper School
  • Bachelors Fine Arts, Savannah College of Art and Design
  • Masters Fine Arts, Florida International University
lori-pollock-100   Mrs. Lori Pollock – Lower School Visual Arts
  • Bachelors of Art in Marketing and Management from the Ray College of Design in Chicago, Illinois
rhonda-ross-100   Ms. Rhonda Ross – Upper School Crafts and Ceramics
  • Bachelors of Elementary Education from University of Central Florida with a certification in Art Education
kathy-weibe-laplante-100   Mrs. Kathy Wiebe – Director of Technical Theatre and Special Event Coordinator
  • Authorized Philips Strand and Lightolier field service technician and Leviton technician
  • Specialist in architectural and theatrical light design

Our performing arts groups at Montverde regularly put on more than 50 concerts and theatrical productions each year. These include choral, band, and orchestra concerts, piano recitals, plays, musicals, talent shows, senior showcases and festivals. Our groups also love to travel into the community and constantly perform at other schools and colleges, competitions, theme parks, community festivals, community centers and retirement villages. The Performing Arts are a living art and we have a core belief that students must continually perform before an audience to improve. We also think that while the arts are for everyone, for those who choose the arts as a vocation, there should be more arts education.

The VPA (Visual and Performing Arts) degree program began at Montverde Academy in 2007 and is designed to educate and promote arts for students with special talents. Young artists who complete this rigorous program graduate with a special diploma that lets colleges know that students have been well trained in their chosen field. This extra training is reflected in the student’s ability to earn roles, compete in competitions and festivals, and be actively recruited by arts colleges. This highly competitive program requires the students to take a strict regime of arts classes over their four year high school career as well as their regular academic core classes. Students must also participate in school and state sponsored evaluations, performances and contests and they must present a senior showcase. The showcase is the culmination of everything they have learned from the VPA program and is present to the school body and faculty.

Students enrolled in the music arm of the VPA diploma program must also take additional private lessons. To that end, Montverde has several contracted music teachers who come after school and teach voice, piano, strings, brass, woodwind, and percussion lessons. These lessons are also available at cost to the general student population.

Finally, we want our students to make global connection to the arts so we sponsor three arts societies on campus: International Thespian Society, National Art Honor Society, and Tri-M National Music Honor Society. All three societies are for students who thrive in the arts and want to enrich themselves and the world through community service that centers around theatre, visual art, and music. Our national charters allow us to participate in local and national conventions and create a spirit of community for our students.

Love the Arts – Appreciate the Arts – Create the Arts. This is Montverde’s philosophy. We want all of our students to love coming into the fine arts buildings. We want them to learn and appreciate the varied and wondrous offerings that are in the arts. We want them to create their own art, music and theatre. We hope that through this creative process they will deepen their appreciation and move through the thoughtful to an emotional love of the arts that lasts a lifetime. As our headmaster, Dr. Kasey Kesselring has said “I enjoy learning and sports are exciting, but the arts are my passion”.