A Grand Night for Singing at SSC

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by Sarah Troxler

The fourth wall: in stage tradition, it’s a magical entity.  It’s that barrier between performer and audience that is rarely intended to be broken.  It’s the proverbial thin line between fantasy and reality, setting the scene of the story, and pulling you into a world that is not completely your own.  The fourth wall is the edge of the stage, really, completing the three other physical walls of the performance space and encasing the story in its own little world.  Audience members are invited into this world where fiction becomes truth and anything is possible, to ride along for the story with all its emotional twists and turns as the plot develops.  We dream along with the heroes and heroines.  We survive failures and successes, jeer at the sinister antagonist, cry at defeat and sorrow, yearn for love.  In two glorious hours, enveloped in the sights and sounds of the stage, we take a journey that exceeds time and space.  Musical theatre: entertainment at its finest.

From a young age, I learned about the various aspects of the stage as a performer, backstage hand, and musician.  The thrill in preparing an elaborate project is in working with a team that includes a director and choreographer, set designer, costumers and make-up artists, actors and musicians, lighting and sound technicians – each working together to present a story and entertain the audience.  All the preparation and anticipation culminates in the performance, when everyone comes together to make the dream a reality.  The synergy between those working parts cannot be equaled!

Musical theatre is thriving on Boston’s South Shore, and I think there is no better place to experience it this summer than at South Shore Conservatory (SSC).  On July 30, audiences will be whisked away into another world as we celebrate the brilliant works of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II with A Grand Night for Singing, a musical theatre revue.  Truly a community endeavor, this performance, featuring favorite tunes such as Surrey With A Fringe On Top from Oklahoma!, Some Enchanted Evening from South Pacific, and Hello, Young Lovers from The King and I, showcases volunteer chorus members from across the South Shore, and principal characters and instrumentalists from SSC’s faculty.

My role as pianist in A Grand Night for Singing allows me to work alongside each of the working parts in our concert presentation – chorus, principals, and instrumentalists.  It is very similar to my role as music director in several local community theatre groups in and around Hingham.  I am fortunate to have one of the most satisfying jobs, because not only do I take part in each step of the rehearsal process in the months prior to performance, I also experience the thrill of being a performer and getting carried away by the music, lights, and story.  It’s truly the best of both worlds!

Join South Shore Conservatory as its Evenings Under the Stars concert series presents A Grand Night for Singing: The Music of Rodgers and Hammerstein, on Saturday, July 30, 7 pm in the Jane Carr Amphitheater at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham.  Tickets for either the lawn or the pavilion are available online at http://www.sscmusic.org or by calling 781-749-7565, ext. 22.  You are sure to walk away from this performance dancing on a bright cloud of music and whistling a happy tune!

Pianist Sarah Troxler has been with South Shore Conservatory since 2012.

Harry Potter Weekend Book Fair

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SSC faculty member Hayley Piecut presents Harry Potter themed activities July 30 at Barnes & Noble 

by Elaine Sorrentino

Harry Potter lovers everywhere are anxiously counting down the days until the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the eighth official installment in J.K. Rowling’s exciting tales of wizardry.  I admit I am among the lovers, and look forward to being at Barnes & Noble in Hingham for the release party on Saturday, July 30 at 8 pm.  South Shore Conservatory (SSC) has been invited to be there for the fun, add some performing arts to the festivities, and use this special weekend as our book fair!

Although nine years have passed since we’ve gotten our hands on a new Harry Potter book, this latest volume, which is actually a script book, takes place 19 years after the events in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Harry is working at the Ministry of Magic and is the father of three.  From what I hear, his son is struggling with the weight of his wizard heritage.  Sounds intriguingly familiar, and I can’t wait to dive into it.  Plus, when I purchase my book I can feel good knowing a percentage of my sale will benefit South Shore Conservatory.

When young and old partygoers arrive at the Barnes & Noble on Saturday night, the excitement starts with a “sorting hat” designed to help them determine which Hogwarts house they belong to. Inside the store, stations for each of the four houses – Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw – feature fun Harry Potter activities for revelers.

At 9:30 and 10:30 pm, Barnes & Noble patrons are treated to a special Harry Potter-themed activity led by SSC faculty member Hayley Piecut.  Also, throughout the evening SSC bassoon trio Bassoons R Us will perform selections from Harry Potter movies.  Then, of course, at midnight, the first book will be purchased.  Barnes & Noble is committed to staying open until all customers have been able to purchase their books.  If you miss the Saturday events, the fun continues into Sunday afternoon. SSC student musicians will perform throughout the store.

Customers who visit Barnes & Noble today through July 30 may enter into a raffle for a chance to win either limited edition, poster-sized cover art of the original seven Harry Potter books, or a free copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The drawing takes place at midnight, and the lucky book winner receives the first copy of the book.

If you’re concerned about the book selling out before you can get to the store on Sunday, Barnes & Noble Community Business Development Manager Jonathan Hickey recommends that you either come to the store or call 781-749-3319 before July 23 to reserve your copy.

So visit Barnes & Noble on Saturday, July 30 or Sunday, July 31, dressed in your favorite Harry Potter attire, or sporting your house colors, for a little Harry Potter fun.  Mention SSC at checkout, or give them voucher number  11914900 (good online as well), and SSC receives a percentage of your sale.  This applies to all purchases in the store during these two days – even a cup of coffee and a muffin in the café.

Barnes & Noble is located at 96 Derby Street, Hingham.  For more information about SSC programs and events, visit sscmusic.org or find us on Facebook.

Elaine Sorrentino is South Shore Conservatory’s Communications Director.

The Big Swing: music of the swing era

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By Emily Browder Melville
“Got a little rhythm, a rhythm, a rhythm, that pitter-pats through my brain . . . ,” sings Ella Fitzgerald, her voice bouncing ever-so-lightly over equally delicate cymbals.  The language of swing music, born in the big band era (measured roughly as the years 1935-1946), has had incalculable presence in American music – and American culture – ever since.  I know, for me, the delightfully danceable music of this era touches my soul in a special way.

The familiar tunes, crooned by powerful horns sections with shimmering clarity, persist in our hearts and minds: they surface when we remember loved ones past, they underscore classic films, they hoist us onto the dance floor at weddings.  And lest we suspect that swing lives only the past, please note that one of the most successful recording artist alive today is Michael Bublé, a handsome, charming, modern-day crooner with an absolutely extraordinary band.  Bublé’s concerts are full of screaming fans – high-schoolers, baby-boomers, and beyond – who cheer on his instrumentalists like sports heroes.  Big band swing is alive and well.  It is timeless.

And yet, a big band swing concert is still a special occasion, an exceptional event.  Big band concerts require an extra-large load of musicians playing complex arrangements.  They demand virtuosic playing; each band member brings a bold soloist spirit yet integrates seamlessly with the other players.  The total sound is rhythmically energized, harmonically rich, and surprisingly sensitive.  A big band concert is always a celebratory occasion.

Which is why I am tooting my proverbial horn about an upcoming super-exciting event in the South Shore Conservatory (SSC) Jane Carr Amphitheater. On Saturday, July 23, SSC’s Evenings Under the Stars (EUS) outdoor concert series presents a celebration of this vibrant American music in The Big Swing: The Music of the Swing Era.  As EUS celebrates its 20th anniversary this season, this big band concert is the very thing to inspire audience members out of their seats and dancing.  Trumpeter Rob Reustle heads a 10-piece band of SSC faculty performers who will call to life swing greats such as Glen Miller, Benny Goodman, Cab Calloway, Fletcher Henderson, Hoagy Carmichael, and others.

SSC voice faculty member Maria Marini and I are the featured vocalists. I am having a truly fabulous time preparing gems such as Doris Day’s “Sentimental Journey,” Louis Prima’s “Sing, Sing, Sing!,” and – of course – Ella’s “Fascinatin’ Rhythm.”  It’s going to be a toe-tapping, heart-lifting event of music, food, and friends, a summer evening to cherish.  Bring your loved ones and let’s make some new memories!

Join South Shore Conservatory for The Big Swing: The Music of the Swing Era on Saturday, July 23, 7 pm at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham.  Tickets for either the lawn or the pavilion are available online at http://www.sscmusic.org or by calling 781-749-7565, ext. 22.  For more information about South Shore Conservatory and Evenings Under the Stars, visit us online or find us on Facebook.

Voice Department Chair Emily Browder Melville has been with South Shore Conservatory since 2009.

Please don’t let Governor Baker send us back to 1994!

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We have shocking news to report from the State House.

Late Friday afternoon, Governor Charlie Baker vetoed the Legislature’s budget for the Massachusetts Cultural Council and slashed arts funding by 55%.

Send an email to your legislators asking them to override the governor’s arts veto.

If lawmakers do not override this veto, the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s budget will be slashed to $6.5 million from $14.1 million.

That’s right: $6.5 million. The last time arts and culture were funded at that level in the Commonwealth was 1994.

No other state arts agency in the country, even those in states like Pennsylvania and Louisiana, which are facing budget gaps of $2 billion, have been hit with cuts of 55%. If this veto stands, the Massachusetts Cultural Council will be forced to slash grants by 30 to 60% and may have to eliminate entire programs. These grants fund creative projects that help revitalize our downtowns, make art more accessible to everyone, young and old, and build closer communities.

The good news is that the chairs of the Legislative Cultural Caucus and the Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development Committee are circulating a letter among colleagues to rally around an override of the governor’s arts veto. We already know that our community is worthy of investment. With enough support from both houses, we can make it happen.

Send a quick note to your senator and representative urging them to support the arts, cultural, and creative community.

If you join us in voicing support for arts and culture in Massachusetts, we can override Gov. Baker’s veto. We were successful in overriding Gov. Baker’s arts veto last year – let’s do it again this year.

Keep up the good work!

Performing with the Evenings Under the Stars Festival Orchestra

Karen Ji with thePhil

By Karen Ji
I was astonished when I was offered an opportunity to perform Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin under Conductor Nicholas Palmer at South Shore Conservatory’s Evenings Under the Stars summer concert series. I volunteered as an usher at last summer’s festival orchestra concert, but it was unimaginable to me that I would ever be performing in the event.  After going home and listening to the piece over and over, I was brimming over with excitement and couldn’t wait to begin learning.

Throughout the years that I have been taking piano lessons at South Shore Conservatory (SSC), I have been given the opportunity to perform at various events, including with the Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra twice under Conductor Steven Karidoyanes. Those performances enhanced my experience and I got chances to truly “perform” in front of a large crowd. However, I am especially anticipating this performance because of how different the style of music is from previous pieces that I have played. As a strictly classical musician, I have always been taught very specific techniques to follow. I can express myself in classical music, but there are moments where room for expression is limited. Although it will be challenging to transition into a more laid back fashion, it will also give me a chance to adjust the music to my own preferences. Having never played a large jazz-style piece before, I am looking forward to taking a break from what I normally play and letting loose and not following all of the rules that classical music comes with.

It has also been a very fun experience for me and my teacher HuiMin Wang to learn something out of the ordinary. During lessons, HuiMin often tells me to stop playing “like a student” and just enjoy the music. I am grateful to have such an enthusiastic and supportive teacher like HuiMin to discover this new style of music.

I invite you to join me on Saturday, July 9, 7 pm in the Jane Carr Amphitheater at One Conservatory Drive, as South Shore Conservatory’s Evenings Under the Stars (EUS) Saturday evening concert series starts off its 20th anniversary season with the Evenings Under the Stars Festival Orchestra presents Let the Celebration Begin!.  This special anniversary season celebrates the many talented artists within the SSC family. Each EUS performance features either an SSC student or faculty performer. Little-known fact, -Maestro Palmer, a Hingham native, is a former South Shore Conservatory student!

For tickets or more information on Evenings Under the Stars performances, visit www.sscmusic.org, find South Shore Conservatory on Facebook, or call 781-749-7565,
ext. 22.

Pianist Karen Ji, the winner of SSC’s 2016 Concerto Competition, is a sophomore at Hingham High School, and is the accompanist for SSC’s Community Voices chorus in Duxbury.  At HHS, she is a member of the cross country and tennis teams.