Through sorrow, a healing idea took root for Mesa resident Christi Worsley who developed that idea and founded Consolari—a concert hall based on the belief that music has the power to heal.
The idea for Consolari was born when Worsley and her husband Bob lost their grandson due to a stillbirth. After the loss of her son, the Worsleys’ daughter joined a choir and found healing through her involvement and thus, the idea of Consolari as a concert hall and the power of music to heal was born.
Worsley said the loss of a child is the personal experience by which she began the Consolari project in the first place.
The concert hall, which is slated to open in 2021, has been in development for the past five years and is projected to be built in downtown Mesa on Main Street. Worsley has a strong connection to Mesa since she and her husband raised their children in the city.
“Mesa was something that was not obvious, I just felt in my heart it was the place to be.”
Worsley said she and her husband, Bob, have been working closely with Lincoln Center’s campus—Ballet, Opera and Philharmonic and Juilliard in New York over the last two years by visiting and meeting with leadership and drew inspiration to model Consolari after those physical structures and educational programming.
“With the Mesa Arts Center being one of the finest in the Southwest, it became obvious that we should try and expand that campus over with an acoustic hall, which would complete the fleet of venues that we needed to create a kind of a mini Lincoln Center West,” Worsley said.
She said it was fortunate that the AutoNation property was available. Pending funding, Consolari is projected to be built in downtown Mesa on Main Street, potentially at the site of the former Brown and Brown Chevrolet—a complementary facility to the Mesa Arts Center.
Consolari’s 10-acre campus will have a large concert hall for full choirs and orchestras, two intimate performance spaces for smaller chamber ensembles and an outdoor lawn with a projection wall for broadcasts of concerts and events. In particular, the Millennial Choirs and Orchestras will be one of the choirs in residence at Consolari. In addition, there will be an amphitheater for outdoor concerts. As part of the educational component, there will be classrooms built with an acoustic design to stimulate learning. Patrons from the community can also enjoy restaurants and view the rose garden.
The rose garden, which was inspired by the Worsleys’ loss of their grandson, Peter, will be a place of healing and remembrance for those who have lost a child.
“My daughter said to me when I handed Peter to her after he was stillborn: ‘I never got to hear his song’…this (the rose garden) was the manifestation of that comment—to plant rosebushes.”
“I want this to be a place of joy and remembrance… We have a lot of people who find peace in the process of planting that rose bush for their child.”
A large aspect of Consolari’s purpose includes education. They plan on having programs for youth to learn about music, in addition to conducting research regarding best practices for healing through music and advocate to raise awareness of the connection of music and its ability to heal.
“Consolari is not just a concert hall, it is based on the power of music to heal and the medium by which we will do that will be through educating,” Worsley said.
According to Consolari’s website, the concert hall will achieve its educational goals by engaging the community to “cultivate a network of youth performance groups to promote positive behavior.” In addition to extending their reach to classrooms by providing “teacher training resources and facilitating educational opportunities for public and private schools.”
Consolari will also have pre-professional training for those committed to Consolari’s vision and will have faculty offering evening and weekend private lessons in person or remotely; it will also give young musicians a chance to perform professionally. Consolari is furthering its connections in the community by working in collaboration with Mesa Public Schools, according to the website, to advance the future of arts-based education.
“Education is probably the most important part of this because brick and mortar aren’t going to do anything unless we educate and give our children opportunities to be a part of this kind of a building,” Worsley said.
This goal aligns with one of the city of Mesa’s core values: education. Mesa Mayor John Giles said the city’s educational values help them continue to look for opportunities to support additional educational facilities in downtown Mesa.
Giles said he thought Consolari would be a great addition to downtown Mesa and a complementary facility to the Mesa Arts Center on Main Street.
“We are very anxious to cultivate and nurture a downtown entertainment district that includes things like movie theaters and restaurants,” Mayor Giles said. “The arts community in downtown Mesa is growing and becoming stronger and that’s a great economic engine for downtown. So Consolari would certainly make a major contribution to that.”
Worsley said Consolari will take four years from the beginning of design to opening. She said hopefully by 2017 they will obtain funding and by December 2021, they will be able to open Consolari with a grand community gala.
“All of this is dependent on if we can convey the heartfelt message of healing,” Worsley explained. “People are not going to put money into a brick and mortar, they’re going to put money into knowing that they can transcend sorrow and pain and conflict resolution…we need to have a message unilaterally across the world that there is the power of music to heal.”
She said when she started to reach out and fundraise, she thought it would be relatively easy to get funding, but Worsley said she’s grateful they haven’t gotten all their funding yet, as it has helped her develop Consolari and formulate strategies to achieve the purpose of Consolari—to heal individually, in families, and collectively, the community.
“We now have a much more comprehensive idea of how important the work is that we’re doing,” Worsley said. “Its been a beautiful, difficult journey. One that I wouldn’t want to repeat, but one I would never trade and I’ve grown through this process.”
Worsley said she came up with the idea for Consolari and has taken progressive steps so it can begin to take on a life of its own and feels the concert hall is very close to doing that.
“Consolari is finally going to take its first breath and we’re going to have phenomenal access to our state and world as we create a global campus for the power of music to heal.”
Worsley is determined to see Consolari take progressive steps forward to open in 2021 with the vision, efforts and power of music to heal brought to stunning reality.
To learn more about the concert hall, visit Consolari.org.
– Mesa resident Alyssa Tufts is a freelance reporter for MyNewsMesa.