Reflections on South Shore Conservatory

With this weekend’s Chase Away the Winter Blues gala taking place on Saturday, I started thinking about what makes South Shore Conservatory so unique.  Five years ago, when we celebrated our 40th anniversary, they put out a call for possible lyrics for a commissioned piece commemorating this milestone.  Here’s one submission that speaks to our uniqueness:

On Inspiration
This place we call home
to families and experiences,
to discoveries and dreams,
to possibilities and opportunities,
this place we call home
South Shore Conservatory;
explore without bounds.

Each note takes us further along the path
of uncovering what makes us whole,
of understanding and giving others joy
only the arts can bring.

Each movement, heartfelt and meaningful,
a wordless expression of emotion and perception,
viewing the world in leaps, turns and gestures;
freedom from structure.

Each improvisation, created in the moment
helps us reveal our true spirits
allowing what’s just below our surface
to joyfully escape.

Won’t you join us tomorrow night?  Chase away your winter blues.


Four Nominations for “Fifty Shades of Blue”

Anthony Geraci 1

photo by Denise Maccaferri

By Anthony Geraci
When you see the title of this blog, you may think of a certain popular steamy novel that was made into a steamy movie. Well, who wouldn’t? But this title for me, is the name of a CD I released in October, which has received an astonishing amount of accolades, and most recently, pushed me to the forefront of the blues world. It’s been an amazing ride.
I started this project about a year ago with some original songs that I wanted to record. I knew exactly who I wanted to play and sing them. At that time I was doing all the writing and arrangements, recording them on Garage Band, and sending out MP3’s to the various blues musicians I hoped would be interested in performing on what eventually became Fifty Shades of Blue.

I booked three days of studio time at Keep the Edge Studio in Quincy, because it’s a great studio, has a great engineer, and most important to me, a very nice grand piano. There were no rehearsals for the recording, but these were musicians I had worked with in the past, and knew I could trust them to deliver their all.

All of my fellow bandmates in Sugar Ray and the Bluetones, a band for which I’ve played piano for over 35 years, are on the recording. Former Texan Darrell Nulisch, who I was in the Blues Monday Band with at the original House of Blues in Cambridge, sings and plays harmonica on three songs. The reigning Queen of Boston Blues Toni Lynn Washington, who is 78 years young sings on a song, and Michelle “Evil Gal” Willson” sings on two songs. Marty Richards, on drums, has played with everyone from Gary Burton to Aerosmith!

Sugar Ray Norcia and Michelle Willson sing the title track “Fifty Shades Of Blue” which has been nominated for Song of the Year from the Blues Music Awards/ Blues Foundation in Memphis,TN. This song is a playful duet between Sugar Ray and Michelle with shades of the “Grey novels” thrown in throughout.

Other nominations for the recording include: Album of the Year, and Traditional Album of the Year. I have also been nominated for the prestigious Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year Award – something about which I am especially proud.

Delta Groove Records out of Los Angeles, CA signed me early last summer, and they have done an outstanding job promoting the recording worldwide. I have done interviews with correspondents from Uraguay, Italy, Croatia, and many here in the US. The recording has received very positive reviews from Blues publications all over the world, and is reviewed in the recent issue of Downbeat, long been known as the premier jazz magazine. It is also currently #3 on the Living Blues Radio Chart which measures airplay on radio stations worldwide. The Blues Music Awards ceremony will be held Thursday May 5 in Memphis, TN. I certainly hope to hear my name called.

If you’d like to hear my style of blues, I’ll be playing at South Shore Conservatory’s (SSC) Chase Away the Winter Blues fundraiser along with other SSC faculty members. For more information about the January 30 red carpet event, visit

Anthony Geraci of Marshfield has taught at South Shore Conservatory since 2012. He is a member of the piano and jazz/rock/pop departments.

Transformations and the Conservatory

Judy Lin Lynch and Hank Lynch, Carolyn Kaplan

By SSC Volunteer Mary Donius
During its annual Chase Away the Winter Blues event, the stunning transformation of South Shore Conservatory’s (SSC) Hingham campus, from a warm and welcoming center for the arts, to Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras, or a 1920s speakeasy, or nightclub on the Left Bank in Paris, is nothing short of extraordinary. I’m sure this year’s Red Carpet-themed event, celebrating the Blues’ tenth anniversary on January 30, will be no exception. All this is in the name of scholarship.

At the risk of sounding corny, I see the physical transformation of the Conservatory, and the Blues event itself, as a metaphor for the magic that happens when children (and adults) have music and music education in their lives. They get to take some risks, learn a little more about themselves and, yes, get a little wild. At least that’s been my family’s experience at SSC.

It all started for us when my daughter Maggie, now a high school senior, began asking… okay, begging … for private voice lessons in fifth grade. I really had no idea what those weekly, thirty-minute sessions would lead to. Fame? Riches? A starring role in a Broadway show?

How about increased confidence? Happiness and pride about an improving skill? An opportunity to connect with some fantastic people she never would have met otherwise? It all started with Emily Browder Melville, a gifted voice teacher who has trained Maggie’s lovely singing voice. Emily has consistently encouraged and challenged Maggie to be her best and, if you will, find her unique voice.

But it’s gone much further than that. Emily co-leads SSC Community Voices, Too, a choir for adults with developmental disabilities. Because Maggie has an interest in music therapy, Emily invited Maggie to be an assistant in the group. So on Wednesday nights, after her lesson, Maggie stays for Community Voices. What a joy it has been to watch Maggie share her love of music and singing with others. The group’s holiday concert is always a highlight of the Christmas season for our family.

Maggie has also participated in Conservatory-sponsored singing competitions, and always joins in the Performathon held at Barnes & Noble at Derby Street to raise money for the Conservatory’s scholarship fund. Later this month she will perform alongside friend and pianist Jenny Boyd for the annual With a Little Help from My Friends concert that pairs voice and piano students for a magical night of music.

A couple of years ago Maggie won the annual Westerbeke Scholarship for an essay she wrote about the joy she finds in singing and performing. The confidence she has gained from these experiences has led her to try out for local musicals and join a well-established community choir and volunteer in Emily’s Music Together® classes for toddlers and their caregivers. Maggie is heading to college next year, and while she couldn’t be more excited, leaving her life at the Conservatory, at least for now, will leave a little hole in her heart.

Which brings me back to Chase Away the Winter Blues on January 30. The annual event gives me an opportunity to give a little something back to the Conservatory — which has given my family, especially Maggie, so much. It’s also a lot of fun. I’m not sure how I’m going to top my flapper outfit from last year’s Gatsby theme, but I’m sure going to try.

To learn more about SSC’s Chase Away the Winter Blues, or to purchase a ticket, visit or call 781-749-7565, ext. 30. South Shore Conservatory is located at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham.

Hingham resident Mary Donius has been volunteering for Chase Away the Winter Blues, which raises over $130,000 annually for scholarship and financial aid, for three years.

Hot ‘Chase Away the Winter Blues’ Auction Items

We’re really excited about our Chase Away the Winter Blues fundraiser on January 30.  The entire night is devoted to supporting arts education for our South Shore community.  There are many ways to support the cause, including this terrific silent auction.  Amongst the auction highlights, are a fun-in-the-sun getaway to Key West, a Downton Abbey lover’s dream pack which includes a Season 6 DVD and tour of WGBH studios for 10 friends, two VIP tickets to a live taping of Late Night with Seth Meyers, and so much more! Take a peek at the items below.


This year’s Blues event celebrates 10 years of transforming lives through scholarships in the arts. Annually, Chase Away the Winter Blues sells out to over 350 guests enjoying an evening of magnificent music, performed by SSC faculty and the fabulous rhythm and blues band, In the House. This year, the ‘Blues’ goes glamorous with a Red Carpet theme. SSC’s Hingham campus is transformed into several night clubs including the Hollywood Bowl, the Tony Club, Rick’s Café, the Grammy Lounge, and the Vanity Fair After Party. The evening includes a raw bar and hors d’oeuvres, buffet dinner, dessert and beverages. Food and beverages are underwritten by Derby Street Shoppes, b.good, Burtons Grill, Kate’s Table, Legal C Bar, and White’s Bakery.

Tickets purchased through January 15 are offered at a $25 discount, at $125. For tickets or more information, visit, call Eileen Puzo at 781-749-7565 ext. 30, or email

‘Twas the Month After Christmas

JRP Faculty



SSC’s JRP faculty offers new adult programs this semester.

By Su D’Ambrosio
‘Twas the month after Christmas and fall sports were done,
everyone’s bored and longing for fun.
I look at the schedule to see if there’s time,
to add in some things that will strengthen our minds.

I want to find something exciting and new,
a class about something we all love to do,
something to help us all open our minds,
activities certain to help us unwind.

In school my kids focus on reading and math,
they need time to follow a creative path.
For me, I am looking for new friends and fun,
now that a shiny new year has begun.

The arts! That’s it! The arts will provide
a chance to spread all our creative wings wide.
The arts feed our souls like nothing on earth,
and all of us have them within us since birth.

But where can I turn to find such a thing?
A place where we all can let our hearts sing?
Classes that help us to learn and explore
a side of ourselves hardly noticed before?

Then what to my wondering eyes should appear,
but a newspaper article written with care,
That told me of options in music and dance,
drama and concerts – so now I can plan!

SSC is a place where performing arts thrive
and it’s on the South Shore – not too far to drive!
They provide us all access to arts education,
among the top schools of its kind in the nation!

My daughter loves singing: Pure Treble for her,
Stage Club is what my teen son would prefer.
I think that Rock Band will help me to bring out
the rock star inside me that’s longing to shout!

We will gain confidence and self-esteem,
while we are learning and living our dream
For all of us have a true artist inside,
that yearns to be nurtured and shown off with pride.

You too can have fun while you try something new,
to learn more about us here’s what you can do:
Call us or email or visit our site.
Happy New Year to all and to all a good night!

For more information on lessons, classes, creative arts therapies and performance at South Shore Conservatory (SSC), please visit or call 781-749-7565 ext.10.
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 is starting his own doggie dance class, Hip Hop for Hounds, featuring the music of Snoopy Dogg.

Our New Year’s Resolutions

Beth from Joyful Voices

Beth MacLeod Largent resolves to spread glitter and sparkle (a.k.a. joy) in 2016

by Elaine Sorrentino
New Year’s resolutions are often full of good intentions to live healthier, save more, be more charitable, stop procrastinating, and keep the holiday spirit alive all year long. In the past, many of us have broken our resolutions within the first week. But our 2016 resolution, here at South Shore Conservatory (SSC), is to keep our resolutions until they become a part of our permanent routine. While it’s doubtful we’ll all succeed, we can certainly try. Here’s my prediction:

The person I believe will have the best luck keeping her resolution is Beth MacLeod Largent, our Director of Performance. She resolves to spread more glitter and sparkle throughout the New Year. Basically what this means is that she’s spreading joy, which she believes the world needs more of. Just one look at Beth’s office, and you’ll find yourself smiling at her fun, inviting sparkly décor. She’s had strangers stop as they go by her office to tell her how happy her office space makes them feel. They never say “too much glitter.” Clearly here is a happy vocalist who is comfortable being who she is, and wants others to be happy too.

Another successful resolver will be our new Institutional Advancement Associate Emma Snelling, who resolves to go to as many concerts and performances as she possibly can. She feels it’s a great way to learn about the wide variety of music that SSC is involved in. If you check out our website calendar you’ll see student recitals every month, Conservatory Concert Series performances showcasing our faculty, Bay Youth Symphony concerts, summer concerts in the amphitheater, and Hingham Jazz Festival, which showcases SSC’s jazz/rock/pop faculty. Yes, Emma will have a busy 2016 and will learn a lot about us!

Su D’Ambrosio’s resolution is to involve more people in our ensemble and adult programs to bring people from different communities together to share their love of and passion for the arts. As the Director of Programs and Curriculum, she’s already got some fun, inviting adult programs lined up. In the New Year, jazz lovers can learn the story behind the songs with Tuesday Night Records; adult students on any “bluegrass” instrument, such as dobro, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, and upright bass will find a home with Bluegrass Jam; and those interested in improv can try it out with Intro to Drama Improv.

Director of Annual Giving Eileen Puzo resolves to tidy her desk at least once a month…or at least condense the sprawl into a visually appealing pile. With the busy development schedule Eileen keeps, and with Chase Away the Winter Blues coming up January 30, I predict that the first part of her resolution has little chance of being kept.

However, Hingham Campus Manager Sharon Bohan, who generously gives of her time whenever there’s a need, may have the most difficult time. Her resolution is to take vacation day every month to rejuvenate and take time for herself. Where the month of January is the busiest at the Hingham campus, with its preparation for the start of the spring semester, plus our annual Blues event on January 30, I hear Sharon saying “I’ll just take two days in February to make up for January.” In my book, that’s breaking your resolution right off the bat!

Happy New Year to all, and if your resolution is to do something nice for yourself in the New Year, check out our arts-based program offerings and concerts at or find us on Facebook.