Fiddler Katy Boc
by Beth MacLeod Largent
A few years ago when we presented our first American roots concert at our Duxbury campus, the audience just loved it and were amazing at the depth of music they were hearing. When they arrived at the concert, they didn’t know what to expect, so when they heard everything from early fiddle tunes to the familiar pop and country music of our country today, they were very excited.
The feedback from this performance was so positive, that we knew we needed to share it with our Hingham audience as well. So, with the help of fiddler Katy Boc, on faculty here at South Shore Conservatory (SSC) since 2003, we have put together Made in America, a concert that features SSC’s jazz/rock/pop (JRP) department performing the tunes and songs from the vast and varied landscape of American roots music.
Katy, who had played classical violin for many years, discovered how much fun it is to use her violin as a fiddle a few years ago, when she found herself at an Irish pub listening to a session of talented musicians chew through their improvised tunes with great gusto. Katy knew this was something she wanted to be a part of, and that she needed to step outside her classical comfort zone. As she tried to improvise and stumble through some jigs and reels for the first time, she was struck by not only the beauty of the music but also by the sheer fun that these musicians were having. They weren’t rehearsing for an upcoming performance or a concert of any kind. They were simply a group of musicians, having a great time, making great music together. Since that time, Katy has focused her music-making on American roots music.
Instrumentation for this concert is a little different from other JRP department performance. For one thing, there’s no winds or brass. Made in America features a combination of fiddle, guitar, bass, mandolin, pedal steel (this is a guitar and not a percussion instrument), percussion, banjo and voice. Audience members can expect lots of fun improvisation and trading fours, and leave knowing that they have just seen a one-of-a-kind performance. With improvisation, the music is never performed the same way twice. The quality and uniqueness of this type of performance is rare to find anywhere south of Boston.
Now, I would be dishonest if I didn’t divulge the fact that we actually did try to present this American roots concert last February in Hingham. But as we all know, Mother Nature threw a monkey wrench into everyone’s plans last winter, and the performance was cancelled. Our Made in America concert needed to wait a year before we could find a date that worked for all the musicians, so we could try it again. I’ve got my fingers crossed that it will not be snowed out again this year. It’s a great concert with surprises for the audience. Did YOU know that the country music of today is actually pop music? Come and find out for yourself!
South Shore Conservatory’s Made in America concert, on Sunday, March 13, 4 pm at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham. It is the fifth of six Conservatory Concert Series concerts, funded in part by Boston Private. Admission to the performance is free. To learn more about this and other Conservatory Concert Series concerts, please visit http://www.sscmusic.org/concert_series.html.
Beth MacLeod Largent is South Shore Conservatory’s Director of Performance and an active member of the voice faculty.