Sharing Holiday Favorites

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By Holly Marshall
The holiday season is a busy one for all of us.  From planning big family dinners to baking holiday cookies and finding that perfect gift, to hiding that gift somewhere the kids will never find it, it’s easy to lose sight of what the holiday season is all about until it’s already passed by.

Holiday time has a very special meaning for me this year.  I’m getting married!  With my wedding happening just a week before Christmas, losing sight of what the holiday season is all about has proven especially true for me this year. So when given the opportunity to take a break from planning a white wedding to sing about a white Christmas—I jumped at it!

My holiday playlist is usually on repeat as soon as the Halloween decorations come down each year, and I can’t wait to bring some of my favorite holiday tunes to life for our concert!  I’ll be dusting off my classical chops for a Messiah duet with Beth MacLeod Largent, and I, of course, couldn’t resist throwing in a little Broadway Christmas amongst the more traditional Christmas carols.  My favorite SSC holiday tradition is the post-concert sing-along, so get ready audience! There’s nothing better than a room full of people making music together.

For the last few years, the holiday concerts at SSC have been standing room only, so I was thrilled to hear we would be moving to Derby Academy’s lovely (and large!) performance hall for Holiday Favorites on December 11.  I recently saw two of my students take to the Derby stage in James and the Giant Peach, so I’ll be following in their footsteps for this performance!

With Thanksgiving being my fiancé Adam’s favorite holiday, and my family being of mixed faith, our celebration of the holiday season and practice of counting our blessings goes well beyond the 12 days of Christmas.  For as long as I can remember, we’ve sung a special version of The Dreidel Song during Hanukkah written by my grandfather.  Each verse is about a different member of the family, and I can’t wait to hear what my grandfather has written for Adam this year!

Making music has been my way of life, but making music for the holidays is a gift.  It’s a chance to pause, reflect on what matters most and the many blessings in life. Sharing music with others is how I can delight in all the little things that make the holiday season truly bright. On December 11, I hope you’ll take some time to revel in the holiday spirit with us!

South Shore Conservatory’s Conservatory Concert Series presents Holiday Favorites on Sunday, December 11, 4 pm at Derby Academy’s Larson Hall, 56 Burditt Street in Hingham.  Admission to the concert is free, and audience members are invited to join the performers for a reception following the performance.  For more information, visit sscmusic.org.

Holly Marshall is a member of South Shore Conservatory’s voice department, and a teacher in SSC’s ImagineARTS program which brings arts and literacy to kindergarteners in the Brockton school system.

Many ways to give the gift of music and the arts!

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Have you been searching for a gift bag large enough to hold a Music Together class or a rock ensemble?  There’s an easier way to give the gift of music. South Shore Conservatory (SSC) gift certificates are a fussy-less way to give the gift of music over the holidays. These certificates may be redeemed for SSC classes, lessons, concert or event tickets.

Here are just a smattering of what these certificates can buy:

  1. Tickets to our exciting Chase Away the Winter Blues event on January 28  at The River Club in Scituate
  2. Music Together classes for baby  (with a parent or caregiver)
  3. Tickets to next summer’s Wacky Wednesdays family concerts
  4. Hip hop dance lessons for a child/grandchild
  5. Tickets to the Hingham Jazz Festival brunch
  6. Curtain Going Up drama workshop
  7. Tickets to any of 12 Duxbury Music Festival performances next summer
  8. Admission to a Bay Youth Symphony concert
  9. Tickets to an Evenings Under the Stars outdoor concert
  10. Adult Jazz Workshop
  11. Participation in Pure Treble chorus
  12. Rock Band

For more gift ideas, please visit www.sscmusic.org.  To purchase a holiday gift certificate, call 781-749-7565, ext. 10 (Hingham) or 781-934-2731, ext. 10 (Duxbury) by December 20.

SSC student wins Russian Music Competition

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Heartiest congratulations to SSC piano student Jenny Boyd who recently was awarded grand prize in the Talented Young Musician Association’s 13th annual Russian Music Competition held in Boston in early November. We are so excited for Jenny who will perform her winning piece, Tchaikovsky’s “Dumka” at Carnegie Hall in New York City on Sunday, December 11!

Boyd, a junior at Notre Dame Academy in Hingham, has studied at South Shore Conservatory since 2010 and is a student of piano instructor Mark Goodman. She has participated in competitions in the past, placing first in the high school division of South Shore Conservatory’s 2016 Piano Competition, and being named overall winner of the 2015 Concerto Competition. Boyd was also the recipient of the Hui Min Wang Scholarship award.

Boyd is also the accompanist for SSC Community Voices, Too!, South Shore Conservatory’s chorus for developmentally delayed adults, and has studied with Xixi Zhou, Regina Yung, and Margaret Li at South Shore Conservatory.

Best wishes to you Jenny!

 

 

A day in the life of a preschooler…

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By Su D’Ambrosio
Parent: “What did you do in school today?”
Teen: “Nothing.”

Twelve years ago this conversation might have sounded like this:
Parent: “What did you do in school today?”
Preschooler: “I played with the blocks, and painted a picture and sang some songs and played dress-up and read some books and played with play dough and went on the playground and had a snack and danced with my friend and saw a butterfly and counted to 100 and learned about the letter C…”
Parent: “Did you have fun?”
Preschooler: “YES!”

When adults think of preschool they often remember these kinds of fun activities and playtime. You might be surprised to learn that to preschoolers all this fun is hard work. Every experience in a preschool curriculum is designed to foster learning specific skills such as gross motor and fine motor coordination, sequencing tasks, language acquisition, reading, math, science, creativity, imagination and interpersonal skills.

In the example above the child was learning fine motor skills with their paintbrush and play dough; gross motor skills through dancing and playground activities; interpersonal skills on the playground, at snack, through dress-up and with their friends; creativity through art, music, dancing, play dough, blocks and dress-up; science through observing a butterfly; language through reading books, dialogue with friends and teachers, and direct instruction on the alphabet; and math/geometry by counting and building with blocks. Amazing that “child’s play” can be so productive. No wonder they need a nap when they get home!

At South Shore Conservatory we recognize the value and importance of play in learning, and the tremendous impact of early childhood education.  In our arts-integrated Preschool/Pre-K/Kindergarten programs we see our students grow every day as they participate in a variety of activities all designed to help them learn and become confident, creative, successful people.  We incorporate music, dance, drama, visual art and yoga, because through fun, engaging activities, they strengthen many skills at once. Students have no idea they are learning so many things as they have a great time!

When you see young children participating in the arts, the benefits are immediately obvious.  This is why, starting in December, we are inviting families in on the first Friday of each month to take a peek into our arts-integrated classrooms.  These monthly Take a Peek open houses allow families to see this amazing process in action and learn more about our program.

To reserve your spot, contact Preschool/Pre-K/Kindergarten Director Rachel Gellis at
781-749-7565, ext. 36 or email her at r.gellis@sscmusic.org.  To learn more about SSC programs, visit sscmusic.org or find South Shore Conservatory on Facebook.  South Shore Conservatory is located at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham.

Su D’Ambrosio is Director of Programs and Curriculum for South Shore Conservatory.  She lives in Plymouth with her daughters Maria and Rosa and her dog Bernie who enjoys strengthening his gross motor coordination by playing “chase me” and his jaw-eye coordination when he plays “catch.”

Choral Singing—For Life!!

broad-cove-holiday-50By William S. Reardon
I grew up in a large family with a father who loved singing and played piano well. Dad would always accompany the family Christmas carol fests with grandparents and cousins and, of course, we’d rehearse before fest day. But it was washing dishes with siblings (no dishwasher!) that launched my choral singing life; we’d literally cover our ears so that we could carry our own part while other family members sang theirs. From there it was only logical that I took up choral singing with a conductor in Chapel Choir and Glee Club at Thayer Academy.

Once I was accepted at Harvard, I decided my principal extra-curricular activity would be singing four years with the Harvard Glee Club. In 1967, I was fortunate to join the Harvard/Radcliffe eleven-week, eight-country world choral tour with 88 other singers.  We performed at Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia and Edinburgh, Scotland Music Festivals. Through that incredible experience I met my wife Kathy and we’ve been singing together ever since in some chorus wherever we have lived. Next April, a majority of that group will gather in Cambridge for a 50th reunion, where we will sing some of our original repertoire, hold a memorial service for lost members, and perform a new piece jointly with the current student singers. Harvard also has an alumni chorus that has now done nine ‘home and home’ exchange singing weeks with Kyoto University Glee Club Alumni in Tokyo/Kyoto, Japan and New York/Boston in the States, as well as special concert visits to Nagasaki and Pearl Harbor.

What has singing and music meant for me through over 50 years of performing? In my professional life I was a busy partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, a large public accounting firm. They say that math and science mesh well with choral singing – something about the left brain/right brain split. But, for me, that one night of rehearsal each week was a total diversion from days filled with analyzing financial statement numbers, and worrying about that next new client. It is impossible to focus on choral singing – notes, rhythm, dynamics, language and blend – and worry about anything else in your life. Your brain is simply too busy processing all these different parts of the choral experience to focus on anything but the music in front of you.

After graduate school, before deciding what I would do in my work life, I took a series of aptitude tests with a Boston firm that advised you on career choices. They believed that, if you had strong aptitudes in music and related skills, your life would be ever so much happier if you found ways to involve as many of those strong aptitudes as possible in your work and play life.  It then made sense that, in addition to singing with Kathy, I should seek out ways at South Shore Conservatory (SSC) to expand both my business and musical interests.

Over the last 45 years, my family has dedicated two memorial rooms at SSC for family members who equally embraced music in their lives. In 1982 I followed my dad, a founding member of the SSC Board of Directors and treasurer in its early days, joined the SSC Board and served as its treasurer for many years.  I also served as president for one term. At this year’s Annual Meeting on November 16, I will step down from my board role, after 34 satisfying years, to allow others to share in SSC’s future.

But singing? That continues, of course!

To learn more about South Shore Conservatory programs, visit www.sscmusic.org or find South Shore Conservatory on Facebook.

South Shore Conservatory would like to thank Hingham resident Bill Reardon for his many years of financial guidance and for his friendship.  He will always remain a dear part of our SSC family.

Getting in touch with your inner gypsy

Mark Goodman 2012 (002)

By Mark Goodman
Everyone has some inner-gypsy in them – the desire to sing passionate songs around a campfire and dance wildly into the night. Since this isn’t always possible on the South Shore, our program Gypsy Caravan on November 20 offers the next best thing.

The gypsies were a nomadic culture, originating in Northern India. As they migrated across Asia and into Europe they took root in Spain, Poland and Hungary, having a profound effect on the folk music of these countries. Many of the great composers were seduced by the virtuosity and fire of the gypsy musicians of the time. When they ventured into this style, the results were always exciting and seductive, a guilty pleasure for performers and listeners alike. Our South Shore Conservatory (SSC) program features music of Haydn, Brahms and Ravel, all of whom tried their hand at capturing the gypsy style.

Haydn’s Capriccio in G for piano, performed by piano faculty member Eugene Kaminsky, is based on the deeply profound Hungarian peasant song Acht Sauschneider mussen sein, which roughly translates to “it takes eight men to castrate a boar (!)”   You will also hear Haydn’s famous Gypsy Rondo performed by a talented student trio, Sarah Calme, violin, Francesca Corrado, cello, and Jennifer Boyd, piano. I can’t wait to hear the youthful energy these high school performers will bring to this joyful piece.

Brahms’s association with gypsy music began in 1850 when he met the refugee Hungarian violinist Ede Remenyi, with whom he toured Germany and Austria. Remenyi introduced Brahms to the wide range of Hungarian folk and gypsy music, and from that time on it permeated his music. Vocalist Beth MacLeod Largent and I will perform his Zigeunerlieder (Gypsy Songs). Here are Beth’s thoughts on the piece:

”I first learned these fiery songs for my senior recital at NEC and have kept them in my rep over the years, as they just get better and better over time! I’m attracted to their passionate technical decrees – they expect the voice to be flexible, sustain long phrases, and yet the German language can make both of these things challenging. Now that I speak German, the language has more nuance and meaning to me than ever before.”

Maurice Ravel was fascinated by the exotic music of other cultures, a true cosmopolitan of the music world. His music incorporates elements of jazz, flamenco, and the Far East, so it is natural that he would be drawn to the gypsy style as well. In his Concert Rhapsody, Tzigane for violin and piano, he comes as close as anyone ever had to recreating the virtuosic improvisations of the gypsy violinists. A true tour de force, it will be performed by Aleksandra Labinska, violin and Eugene on piano.

Our concert concludes with Brahms’s Piano Quartet No. 1, one of his most beloved chamber music works. The piece is permeated by Hungarian flavors, but they come to the fore in the Finale, Rondo alla Zingarese (Rondo in the Gypsy Style).  As the music whips itself into frenzy, the wild passion of the old gypsy performers is vividly invoked. Our gypsy band includes Aleksandra on violin, Cassie Sulbaran, viola, Sassan Haghighi, cello, and myself on piano.

South Shore Conservatory’s Conservatory Concert Series presents Gypsy Caravan:  The Fire and Passion of Hungarian Style on Sunday, November 20 at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham.  This free performance is sponsored by The Harold and Avis Goldstein Trust.  Gypsy Caravan will also be presented at our Duxbury campus on Sunday, November 13 at 4 pm.  We hope you will hop on the caravan for this afternoon of thrilling music. Egeszsegere!

Pianist Mark Goodman has been with South Shore Conservatory since 1981.  He is a Hingham resident.

The powerful impact of music on our lives

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By Michael Busack

Pause.

For a moment consider your core memories. There are times, good and bad, that affect the individuals we become. Often the joy or pain of these times are as fresh as when we were living them.

Now pause again.

Consider the role music has played during your memories. Perhaps you remember the song playing on the radio when you first discovered you were going to be a parent. Maybe it’s the song you danced to at your wedding, or the one that makes you weep thinking of a loved ones’ funeral. No matter the shape and weight of the memory, chances are you can connect it to a song.

I grew up in a large extended family. My maternal grandparents had 11 children, and a small army of grandchildren. My grandparents’ house was full of love, laughter, and people! My grandfather, a man of few words, led a simple life. He believed in working hard, having compassion, valuing generosity, and cherishing family. He led with actions, and his example has been the most meaningful inspiration in my life.

Our large family regularly gathered for big dinners with everyone together around the table, and at counter tops, and anywhere else where you could keep a plate of my Memere’s amazing dinner steady.  Following the meal my grandfather would quietly head over to his recliner, tired from a long days’ work and full from a great meal. Often he would pull a small case from his pocket. Everyone recognized the cue that Pepere was going to play his harmonica.  As a child on his family farm in Canada, he had picked up the harmonica and taught himself to play a million old folk and country western songs by ear. I vividly remember him tapping his feet as he played one of his favorites, Hank Williams’ “On the Bayou.”

The grandchildren had roles too. Some of us would grab pots and spoons to drum, others would slide a finger between two spoons to create a makeshift instrument to beat along. It was simple and admittedly silly, but it was time to spend with our grandfather and experience his passion for music.

When I entered college in 2002, our family noticed that my grandfather’s hands became less steady. The strongest man we’d ever known began to shuffle and shake. He soon was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. He fought for a decade as his mind and body slowly declined. Remarkable, however, he continued to play the harmonica until near the end. The musical connections and muscle memory ran so deep for him that though the disease decimated his mind and body, music lived on.

My grandfather died on June 12, 2013. Not a day goes by without him entering my thoughts. Sometimes I still ache from the loss, but usually I’m filled with joy from all the memories of time spent together. And no matter my mood, I can always turn to the songs that filled my childhood moments in the kitchen with my Pepere.

Earlier this month I became the Senior Director of External Relations at South Shore Conservatory. I’m beyond thrilled to use this role to share my story and the stories of many others that demonstrate the powerful impact of music on our lives.

 

Advocating for the arts

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Here at SSC, we clearly see huge value in the arts.  We watch in amazement as our students – all ages and all abilities – come to life when they participate in music, dance and drama.  We marvel at the unique ways they tell their individual stories, using the arts as their paintbrush. We are working hard to make sure everyone continues has this opportunity.

On Arts Matter Day, Friday, October 28, South Shore Conservatory, along with hundreds of other Massachusetts creative community organizations, celebrates the arts and culture online, advocating for our legislators to recognize the value of the arts and support the arts in their communities. Not only are the arts are an integral part of what makes us human; they help define our humanity and provide a structure for understanding, they drive the economy, enhance education, build community and embrace diversity and inclusion.

So, check out South Shore Conservatory on Facebook and Twitter as the SSC community (students, faculty, staff) tells the world why the arts matter to them.  Or, stop by one of our campuses and share why the arts matter to you!

 

 

It Takes a Musical Village

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By Su D’Ambrosio

Last week I attended the Massachusetts Music Educators Southeast District meeting. As I looked around the room it occurred to me that the South Shore is blessed with many dedicated educators who work hard to build and maintain strong music programs in our public schools. There was a mix of familiar faces and new teachers, with chorus, band, orchestra, jazz band and general music represented.  We reviewed plans for our upcoming Junior and Senior festivals, which bring students together from all over the South Shore for a weekend of rehearsal and performance.  In order to participate, students must audition.

Last year over 1000 students auditioned for each festival.  Just over 400 were accepted at each level. The competition is strong and students often feel the pressure at their audition. To prepare, students spend hours at school working with their band, chorus, orchestra and jazz band teachers. Many also study with a private teacher who helps them in their weekly lessons. In addition, some students participate in groups or classes outside their school, such as South Shore Conservatory’s Bay Youth Symphony (BaYS), chamber music or Mezzo Voice Class. The most successful students are those who had strong music education experiences before they even touched an instrument or joined a chorus. Elementary general music teachers set the foundation for all of the learning that takes place later, by helping students understand rhythm, tonality, musical form and reading music notation.  Teachers at all levels of a student’s musical journey contribute to their success in the audition room.

Through my own children, I have had the great privilege of observing this process firsthand. They both participated in Junior and Senior District ensembles as well as the All-State Festival. My daughter Maria was accepted into the All-National Honor Band. Both were immersed in music as babies and had the great fortune of having excellent music teachers (too many to list!) at all levels of school.  Suffice it to say that between my two girls, there have been eight public school music educators, nine private teachers on four different instruments, and fourteen group instruction teachers and conductors.  Their success in the audition room was the result of this talented village of music and arts educators. This musical village was also responsible for shepherding my daughter Maria along the path that led to The Boston Conservatory.

At South Shore Conservatory, with private instruction, group classes and small and large ensembles, we are honored to be part of so many students’ journeys through the arts. On October 30, from 12-3 pm, we are hosting a free Festival Audition Workshop at our Hingham campus to help prepare students for their Junior and Senior District festival auditions. This event is open to any student on the South Shore.  During this workshop, students have an opportunity to play their audition pieces for faculty and receive valuable feedback to help them do their best on audition day.  We are proud to be part of the outstanding village of music educators that support young musicians in our communities.

South Shore Conservatory’s Festival Audition Workshop is free to SSC and non-SSC students by reservation.  Students interested in reserving a spot, should call 781-749-7565, ext. 10 before October 26. For more information, visit http://sscmusic.org/festival_audition_workshop.html.

Su D’Ambrosio is Director of Programs and Curriculum for South Shore Conservatory.  She lives in Plymouth with her daughters Maria and Rosa, and her dog Bernie who wants to thank Lisa at PetSmart for shepherding him on his journey through doggie obedience school.