Ron Castonguay, an innovative music educator and accomplished musician, composer, conductor and performer, has been named Director of the Arts at The Gunnery, effective August 1, 2019. In his new role, Castonguay will be responsible for the leadership and development of the school’s Visual and Performing Arts programs and will champion the growth and integration of the arts and community with the opening of the new Thomas S. Perakos Arts and Community Center in January 2020.
“We are excited to announce that Ron Castonguay will be the Director of the Arts at The Gunnery,” said Emily Gum, Assistant Head of School for Teaching & Learning. “As a school, we have been working collaboratively to develop a new, comprehensive vision for arts and community at The Gunnery. As Director of the Arts, Ron will ensure that future development of the arts at the school is integrated with this vision such that the program continues to grow in both intentionality and quality. With our new resources, we also recognize the potential to expand our arts curriculum and our institutional partnerships for the benefit of the community. Ron’s leadership will be vital to the success of this process as we usher in a new era for the arts at our school.”
For 23 years, Castonguay served as Department Chair for the Performing Arts and Music Director for grades 9 through 12 at Gulliver Preparatory School in Miami, Florida, a co-educational, private, college preparatory day school with an enrollment of more than 2,200 students in PreK‒3 through grade 12 and facilities that span four campuses.
He created and directed the school’s String Ensemble and Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Combo and Vocal Ensemble. His ensembles have performed at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, the Strathmore Center for the Performing Arts and other notable venues, and consistently earned top marks at district, state and national music festivals. Castonguay taught AP Music Theory, Jazz Theory and Improvisation, as well as standard level and higher level music in Gulliver’s International Baccalaureate (IB) program.
Castonguay holds a bachelor's degree in music theory and composition from the University of Miami (Florida) and has maintained his state certification in music education for kindergarten through grade 12 since 2004.
In addition to his music education career, Ron is a professional saxophonist, experienced conductor and published composer. He conducted the professional run of “Into the Woods” at the Adrienne Arsht Performing Arts Center in Miami in 2015 and performed an alto saxophone solo with the Miami Symphony on Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” One of his choral works, “Trust In The Mercy Of Your God,” was debuted by the University of Miami Chorale under the direction of Jo-Michael Scheibe, and a concert of Castonguay’s compositions and arrangements were presented at the University of Miami’s Gusman Hall in 2009.
At The Gunnery, Castonguay will be responsible for serving as Performing Arts Chair and will work closely with the school’s Visual Arts Chair to ensure excellence in all arts programming. He will teach two or more classes per term, participate in co-curricular programming, manage concerts, recitals, private music instruction and adjunct faculty. He will serve as a member of the administrative team, Curriculum Committee and as a student advisor. Castonguay also will be responsible for the scheduling and use of the new Arts and Community Center, both during the academic year and in the summer months, through partnerships between the school, the community and local arts organizations.
“The arts have been an important part of the student experience at The Gunnery from the time of Frederick Gunn, who incorporated theatrical entertainment and singing into the curriculum,” said Head of School Peter Becker, who recently shared with faculty and students The Gunnery’s vision for the arts and community. “We invite our students to be creators and makers, challenge them to see things in new ways, and encourage a kind of risk-taking that is at the heart of creation. It is our hope that this risk-taking in art will extend to other disciplines or endeavors, whether that means studying a new subject or trying a new sport. We recognize that this practice of trying something new and sometimes failing requires both fearlessness and perseverance, two qualities that Mr. Gunn exemplified as a teacher, headmaster and individualist.”
Castonguay said he was impressed to learn that the school’s vision is to align the arts with the mission established by Mr. Gunn in 1850, and make it relevant for today. “The program is already strong but I can’t wait to build on the arts program and the new center is kind of like a Field of Dreams. ‘If you build it, they will come.’ I’m excited to see what that brings not only to The Gunnery but to the community and beyond,” he said.
Born in Ohio and raised in Massachusetts, Castonguay said he also is looking forward to returning to New England. He will join The Gunnery community with his wife, Melissa, a native of Miami, and their two daughters.
The Arts and Community Center will offer students and faculty access to 32,000-square-feet of space dedicated to the arts, including a state-of-the-art, 415-seat theater where the entire school can gather for meetings, guest speakers, performances and events. The theater will be named The Tisch Family Auditorium in honor of Jonathan Tisch ’72 and Steven Tisch ’67. The center’s art wing, which will be named in honor of Richard C. Colton, Jr., ’60, will feature gallery spaces, classrooms and studios. Additionally, the center will offer community and event spaces, choral and instrument practice spaces, including a drum room, and a technical shop for building and assembling sets.