Welcome Conductor Phaedre Sassano!

Phaedre Sassano

Conductor Phaedre Sassano

By Su D’Ambrosio
As spring slowly makes its way to our community, bringing new beginnings for our gardens, trees and lawns, we are enjoying some new beginnings at South Shore Conservatory (SSC).  Throughout the year we always have new students taking on an instrument or class for the first time and, like watching new plants sprout in your garden, it is gratifying to see the joy and sense of accomplishment that these students of all ages exhibit as they begin to sprout and grow as new musicians, dancers and actors.  As roots of knowledge take hold through a strong foundation of education, sprouts emerge and ultimately blossom as students become new creative artists.  Sometimes, we have the opportunity to observe a new faculty member begin to plant roots in our community. This spring we are happy to welcome Hingham Public School music educator Phaedre Sassano to our SSC family as she joins our faculty as conductor of our Bay Youth Symphony (BaYS) Symphony orchestra.

This process of integration is usually gradual as a new faculty member joins our team and starts building a studio.  But Phaedre hit the ground running.  Rehearsals began immediately after BaYS’ February 28 concert, and instantly our students started to benefit from her many years of experience as a musician and music educator.  As an admired teacher in the Hingham Public Schools, Phaedre came to us with deep roots in the community.  She worked to grow the Hingham string program in many ways, including establishing special ensemble opportunities for high school string players to perform for high school musical productions, and then extended this to middle school students for their musical production. The string program in Hingham has blossomed as a result of her commitment and expertise.

We are excited about the fresh ideas and energy that Phaedre brings to our youth orchestra program, which is the only one of its kind on the South Shore. One of the reasons we chose Phaedre for this position was that an important part of her teaching philosophy is to create community, which is very much in line with our mission here at SSC. Making meaningful connections with students is another main goal. This was apparent in her conducting audition with the group. When we saw her capture their attention immediately we knew she would be an effective teacher and leader. As she guides our students forward, we can already see new shoots and branches growing, and the great possibilities for expanding in new directions in the future.  Students are rising to the challenge of new repertoire and the new perspective that Phaedre brings. Transitions can be tricky and scary for groups such as BaYS, and we are so happy to see this new beginning look like a metamorphosis. We can’t wait to see the beautiful butterfly emerge at their first concert!

Please plan to join us for our BaYS Spring Concert on May 1 at 3 pm at the Duxbury Performing Arts Center at 73 Alden Street, Duxbury, and hear for yourself. Auditions, for students interested in joining BaYS for the 2016-2017 season, are Tuesday, May 24, from 6-8 pm at SSC’s Duxbury campus; and Tuesday, June 7, 5-7 pm, at SSC’s Hingham campus at One Conservatory Drive. For more information on BaYS, visit http://www.sscmusic.org.

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 looking forward to the possibilities of digging up the fresh, new spring lawn!

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Battling Audition Anxiety

DSC_0090

By Su D’Ambrosio
Your heart is racing, your palms are sweating, your mouth is dry and your hands are shaking. We have all been there, putting ourselves out in front of others who might be judging us. Sometimes, when we are performing, it is our perception that others are judging us, but the audience is usually just hoping to be entertained.  However, to the person on stage, every move or word is under scrutiny. At other times we are being judged as in a job interview, a try-out for a sports team or, in the arts, at an audition.

In the performing arts world there are two basic kinds of audition. One is the all-or-nothing kind where one person is chosen for one spot in a band, orchestra, chorus, dance troupe, play, etc. The other is called a “placement” audition. This one is more “warm and fuzzy” as it is used to organize students into ability groups or choose proper material for an ensemble or class, not to eliminate participants. Everyone gets in, we just want to know the level of the students in the group or class. If everyone gets in, the pressure should be low. No need for nerves, right? WRONG!

At South Shore Conservatory (SSC) we see this all the time. No matter what we call it or how we explain it, students become very panicky when they are put on the spot in an audition. We are conditioned to fear any experience that could result in what we think of as failure, instead of embracing failure as a vehicle for learning and growth. An audition isn’t fraught with peril, but rather a chance to show what you can do. If you make a mistake, just keep going. And, in a placement audition, there is no dire consequence. It is truly just a chance for the listener to get to know you as a performing artist.

When students ask, “What can I do to be less nervous at an audition?” I answer, “Take lots of auditions!” I remind students that we learn through repetition and trial and error. We typically learn much more through our “failures” than our successes. How many times did you fall off your bike before you mastered riding? How many curbs did your teen driver hit before learning to judge a turn? I think I baked 100 lasagnas or so before I concocted one that resembled my grandmother’s.

As a young musician, I would play a piece over and over until I could play it with no mistakes and I learned something from each imperfect attempt. The same is true with the audition experience. After the first few where the beating heart, sweaty palms and shaky hands get the best of us, we learn to apply techniques, such as breathing and positive thinking, to become more relaxed and comfortable in the audition room, resulting in better performance. I wish the best to all the students auditioning for our Summer Music Festival, Summer Vocal Institute, Bay Youth Symphony (BaYS) and Pure Treble chorus this spring!

Remaining dates for placement in SSC’s Summer Music Festival are Saturday, April 30 and May 14.  The placement audition date Summer Vocal Institute is Saturday, May 21.  For more information on SSC programs and upcoming auditions for summer and fall, please visit http://www.sscmusic.org.

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 almost blew his interview for Doggie Daycare by mistaking a chair in the lobby for indoor plumbing…

Reaching all populations through yoga

Molly Murphy

By Gita Brown
My heart rattled in my ribcage as I watched my nine-year-old student, Macy, take center stage. Macy and I had practiced diligently for years for this moment. Her long blond hair framed her blue eyes as she took time to compose herself. She was calm and serene. Taking my cue from her, I took a deep breath to calm my nerves. I watched with pride as she executed a flawless performance. No one watching cared that Macy has Down syndrome, a developmental disability. The audience was too awed by her embodiment of the practice of yoga; the uniting of body, breath and mind in a single precious moment.

The performance was unique, a demonstration of a full yoga class to a packed house. The audience members were attendees of a Yoga for the Special Child® Basic Certification Program, held through the Creative Arts Therapies department at South Shore Conservatory (SSC). For one week we gathered to learn this unique method, which was founded by Sonia Sumar in 1974 during her work with her daughter, Roberta, a child with Down syndrome. Sonia’s method has grown into an internationally-renowned practice, serving individuals from birth through adulthood. During the week-long program we learned how to adapt the components of yoga to babies and children with autism, cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, Down syndrome, learning disabilities and other challenges. One of the unique attributes of this training is that no yoga experience is required to attend. Nurses, parents of children with special needs, occupational therapists, speech therapists, yoga teachers or anyone interested in this program is welcome to attend.

Macy’s demonstration began with a musical chant. Macy and the guest teacher, Kathy, exchanged musical phrases and clapping rhythms. Macy’s attention was harnessed by the music, her face beaming. After the chants Kathy and Macy demonstrated breathing practices, designed to clear nasal passages, improve breath capacity, and provide emotional regulation. Next came eye movements, which can improve concentration and help weak eye muscles. Yoga poses followed, moving the body in all directions; forward, backwards, sideways and twisting. Patiently working, they showed how linking movements with steady breathing can facilitate strength, balance, flexibility and body awareness. After a period of rest, Macy sat up to recite the closing offering, which she spent months learning. With hands together at her heart she said, “I am peace. I am joy. I am love. I am light. I have a beautiful light that was placed inside of my heart when I was born. And because of this light, I am not afraid of anything or anyone! May the light overcome all of the darkness!”

I looked around at our audience, and saw tears sparkling in many eyes, no one could help but smile at the power of one child, engaged diligently in her yoga practice, to bring peace to a room full of people.

Our next Yoga for the Special Child® Basic Certification Program runs this August 6-12 at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham. Macy has been practicing yoga diligently, and promises to come back and be a “demonstration student” again. I can’t wait to watch her shine. Whether you are new to yoga or an experienced practitioner, we’d love to have you join us for this program which shares innovative teaching methods that have been changing the lives of children around the world for more than forty years.

For more information about the Yoga for the Special Child® Basic Certification Program, visit sscmusic.org or contact Gita Brown at g.brown@sscmusic.org.

Gita Brown, Yoga Chair in the Creative Arts Therapies department at South Shore Conservatory, is a licensed Yoga for the Special Child® instructor.  She has been with SSC since 2009.

 

 

 

Jazz at the Academy, April 23

John McCarthy 3

photo by Denise Maccaferri

South Shore Conservatory is indebted to our donors for their generosity, and Hingham Jazz Festival’s preview event Jazz at the Academy on April 23 is no exception. This amazing concert is co-presented by South Shore Conservatory, Hingham Historical Society and Derby Academy.

While it takes a village to run an event such as this, as often happens, one highly committed “villager” is the first to get the ball rolling. Over the past few years SSC Trustee Gerald Jones has been that person to help with our spring jazz/rock/pop (JRP) event.  Along with his wife Linda, the Joneses have been instrumental in not only sponsoring this preview event, but in generating exceptional excitement and commitment from other individuals and organizations.

Hingham Historical Society has been fabulous in the past, helping promote this event and providing a venue for this concert.  While our spring concert generally takes place at HHS’s Old Derby Academy, this year Old Derby is undergoing major renovations, but that didn’t stop HHS from being a co-presenter. Representing Hingham Historical Society, HHS board member Tomas Kindler and his wife Lizanne have generously provided financial support this year.

Rounding out the trio of sponsors, Derby Academy has not only been generous with their sponsorship, but has donated their facility and helped promote this concert to its families as well.

Jazz at the Academy takes place in the Healey Center for Innovation at Derby Academy, 56 Burditt Avenue in Hingham – a very cool multipurpose space that lends itself to intimate performance. Delicious food is supplied by JAM Catering. This event features SSC’s  JRP Department faculty musicians performing fantastic “unplugged” jazz, rock and pop, and simply wouldn’t be possible without the sponsorship of the Jones and Kindler families along with Derby Academy!

For tickets, please visit http://sscmusic.org/hingham-jazz-festival.html.

Battling Audition Anxiety

SMF compressed

By Su D’Ambrosio
Your heart is racing, your palms are sweating, your mouth is dry and your hands are shaking. We have all been there, putting ourselves out in front of others who might be judging us. Sometimes, when we are performing, it is our perception that others are judging us, but the audience is usually just hoping to be entertained.  However, to the person on stage, every move or word is under scrutiny. At other times we are being judged as in a job interview, a try-out for a sports team or, in the arts, at an audition.

In the performing arts world there are two basic kinds of audition. One is the all-or-nothing kind where one person is chosen for one spot in a band, orchestra, chorus, dance troupe, play, etc. The other is called a “placement” audition. This one is more “warm and fuzzy” as it is used to organize students into ability groups or choose proper material for an ensemble or class, not to eliminate participants. Everyone gets in, we just want to know the level of the students in the group or class. If everyone gets in, the pressure should be low. No need for nerves, right? WRONG!

At South Shore Conservatory (SSC) we see this all the time. No matter what we call it or how we explain it, students become very panicky when they are put on the spot in an audition. We are conditioned to fear any experience that could result in what we think of as failure, instead of embracing failure as a vehicle for learning and growth. An audition isn’t fraught with peril, but rather a chance to show what you can do. If you make a mistake, just keep going. And, in a placement audition, there is no dire consequence. It is truly just a chance for the listener to get to know you as a performing artist.

When students ask, “What can I do to be less nervous at an audition?” I answer, “Take lots of auditions!” I remind students that we learn through repetition and trial and error. We typically learn much more through our “failures” than our successes. How many times did you fall off your bike before you mastered riding? How many curbs did your teen driver hit before learning to judge a turn? I think I baked 100 lasagnas or so before I concocted one that resembled my grandmother’s.

As a young musician, I would play a piece over and over until I could play it with no mistakes and I learned something from each imperfect attempt. The same is true with the audition experience. After the first few where the beating heart, sweaty palms and shaky hands get the best of us, we learn to apply techniques, such as breathing and positive thinking, to become more relaxed and comfortable in the audition room, resulting in better performance. I wish the best to all the students auditioning for our Summer Music Festival, Summer Vocal Institute, Bay Youth Symphony (BaYS) and Pure Treble chorus this spring!

Remaining dates for placement in SSC’s Summer Music Festival are Saturday, April 30 and May 14.  The placement audition date Summer Vocal Institute is Saturday, May 21.  For more information on SSC programs and upcoming auditions for summer and fall, please visit http://www.sscmusic.org.

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 almost blew his interview for Doggie Daycare by mistaking a chair in the lobby for indoor plumbing…

Schubertiade: The Best of Franz Schubert

Mark Goodman 2012 (002)

By Mark Goodman
Franz Schubert occupies a special place in music lovers’ hearts, whether for timeless melodies such as Ave Maria and Serenade, ground-breaking piano works such as Wanderer Fantasy and the Impromptus, or orchestral masterpieces such as Unfinished Symphony. Perhaps it is the combination of his unerring gift for melody, the pioneering look to the future of music, and the poignancy of his early death at age 31 that endears Schubert to all who know his music. Who knows what paths he would have taken, what amazing gifts we would have been left with, had he lived to an older age?

In his honor, I am proud to be presenting South Shore Conservatory’s (SSC) second “Schubertiade” on Sunday, April 17. The term Schubertiade refers to the house concerts held by Schubert with his circle of friends and fellow musicians in living rooms around Austria. Songs were sung, new works were presented, and all who attended knew they were in the presence of something special.

Our program revolves around two of Schubert’s most popular songs during his lifetime, Gretchen am Spinnrade (Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel), and Die Forelle (The Trout), both sung by SSC’s Vice President of Education, Lorna Jane Norris.  Both of these songs found their way into transformed versions, one by Franz Liszt, and one by Schubert himself.

Liszt transcribed some 55 of Schubert’s songs. It was a genre he helped to create, and the transcriptions were in great demand by the general public.  His brilliant version of Gretchen am Spinnrade will be performed by our amazing new piano faculty member, Xixi Zhou. (Xixi will be performing a full recital at SSC on May 13 in Hingham.) Liszt’s transcription was written in 1838, ten years after Schubert’s death, so technically it could not have been performed at one the original Schubertiades, but let’s not quibble! It will be fascinating to hear the way Liszt transforms the song to a virtuoso piano version with his own style and sensibility, while remaining faithful to the original spirit and text.

Die Forelle was the most requested song Schubert ever wrote, and was so beloved by the participants of the Schubertiade’s that Schubert was asked to compose a quintet based on the song. The result was the Trout Quintet, which has become one of the glories of the chamber music repertoire, and will be the closing work on our concert.  The fourth movement consists of five variations on the original song, and the entire piece is tuneful and ebullient throughout. Our quintet is made up of Conservatory faculty members Cassie Sulbarán, viola, Sassan Haghighi, cello, Chris Rathbun, bass, and myself on piano. Joining us will be violinist Julia Cash, who was a member of the Evening Under the Stars Festival Orchestra last summer.

We are all very excited to be presenting this music we love. I hope you can join us in true Schubertiade style – with your friends, and in an intimate setting!

South Shore Conservatory’s Conservatory Concert Series presents Schubertiade, on Sunday, April 17, 4 pm at 64 St. George Street, Duxbury.  It is the sixth and final concert of the 2015/2016 Conservatory Concert Series, 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.

Pianist Mark Goodman of Hingham is South Shore Conservatory’s Piano Department Chair.  He has been with the Conservatory since 1981.