Music and Merriment Under the Stars

Jon Abrams 2

Jon Abrams and his Billy Joel Tribute Band performs at South Shore Conservatory in Hingham on July 22

By Julie Collinge
Summer!  Everyone has a different way of deciding when they feel that summer really is just round the corner – regardless of the current temperature and weather forecast.  For me that pivotal moment is when I realize South Shore Conservatory’s Evening Under the Stars (EUS) concert series is less than two months away.  Time to start getting ready!

For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure of attending an EUS performance, let me give you a brief overview.  For four Saturdays in July, the Conservatory presents a concert in the Jane Carr Amphitheater at the Hingham campus.  It is our very own “mini-Tanglewood.”  Seating is available inside the pavilion, but many folks prefer to bring chairs, blankets, etc., and picnic on the lawn.

Every year SSC Director of Performance Beth MacLeod Largent puts together the entire Evenings Under the Stars series, featuring some regular favorite acts, together with new offerings for us to enjoy.  This year’s performances feature Out of this World with Mozart! with the EUS Festive Orchestra, A Celtic Sojourn, a Billy Joel tribute band front by Jon Abrams, and a spectacular Rodgers and Hart review.   The new kid on the block this time is the Billy Joel band – I suspect there will be a high degree of singing along that evening, and I know there will be dancing on the lawn!

As an adult student, studying voice and piano at SSC, my first encounter with EUS was singing in the chorus for a concert production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance.  That got me hooked, and I immediately started looking for ways to get more involved.  Fast forward a few years to 2017, and I now coordinate the volunteers for these outdoor concerts and several others throughout the year.  I love my band of volunteers; not only do they act as ushers, man the box office, staff the concessions stand and the pre-concert reception bar and generally do all they can to make sure everyone has a good time, but they also turn up early to help decorate the space (yes, we do decorate the trees!) and stay late to tidy up.  The best part is that they never stop smiling!  Just the joy of being surrounded by such positive energy is enough to make sure I attend every show, but in addition, I get to hear great music performed live.  It doesn’t get much better than that!

This summer I will once again be singing in the chorus for the Rodgers and Hart review.  What wonderful music!  Doing both volunteering and performing on performance night is “interesting” to say the least.  Fortunately I have a couple of friends who act as my conscience and make sure that I make it on stage properly dressed and without my “Volunteer” name tag.  Of course, there is always a first time for the plan to come unglued!  Why not plan to come to the show and see if we get it right?

If you have been part of the EUS family before, I look forward to seeing you again.  If this is your first time, feel free to look me up and say “hi.”  Any of the volunteers will be able to help you find “Julie.”  Happy Summer!  Happy EUS!

South Shore Conservatory’s Evenings Under the Stars Saturday night concert series runs from July 8 through July 29.  For more information, visit, call 781-749-7565, ext. 22, or find South Shore Conservatory on Facebook.

Julie Collinge is a Hingham resident.  She regularly performs in SSC adult performances.

World-Class Piano Camp comes to SSC

SSC Piano campBy Jonathan Roberts 

As much as I love the piano, I know it can be a very lonely instrument.  Young pianists don’t often have the social opportunities and camaraderie that string, voice, and wind students have with orchestra, chorus, and band class. It is with this in mind, I am so excited to direct South Shore Conservatory’s (SSC) first-ever summer piano camp. The SSC Hingham campus is a wonderful outdoor setting for summer programs, and with many pianos in the building, along with a piano in the outdoor amphitheater in the summer, this is the perfect location for a world-class piano camp.

SSC Piano Camp is open to students of all levels (even very beginning), from ages 5-18. Classes include many diverse age-appropriate activities such as keyboard/rhythm games, masterclasses, piano ensemble (duets and six-hand piano), improvisation, technology, music theory, and more.  Each day ends with a fun, casual student recital in the amphitheater, where the students can show off what they have learned.  The camp faculty includes some of SSC’s own incredible piano department faculty members, plus five world-class pianist/educators from around the country. Together, they will undoubtedly provide an unforgettable week for the camp students.

Lauren Whittaker, one of our SSC Suzuki piano teachers and a Piano FUNdamentals instructor, has done amazing work with the youngest students of our department, both in her teaching and building community among the students. I am thrilled that Lauren will be a member of our camp faculty.

Co-chair of SSC’s Jazz/Rock/Pop department, Ed Broms has one of the largest and most diverse piano studios at the Conservatory, and I am very excited that he will be teaching at our first piano camp. Ed will be sharing his talents through improvisation, songwriting, ear training, and more over the course of the camp week.

Julie Knerr is co-author of the new, incredibly popular Piano Safari piano method. Her extensive work in the development of musicianship and proper piano technique in young piano students has had a major impact on a generation of piano teachers.

A leader in music learning theory, Marilyn Lowe is the creator of the Music Moves for Piano series, which helps the youngest piano students learn music in the same manner they learn language.

Irina Gorin is one of the most established pedagogues for children in the United States and beyond. In addition, Irina contributes to the enrichment of piano teachers, regularly conducting workshops and masterclasses. In fact, she will be conducting a teacher workshop at SSC the weekend following piano camp! Irina is the creator of the “Tales of a Musical Journey” series, which is the culmination of her vast education and teaching experience.

Mario Ajero is professor of piano at Stephen F. Austin State University, and is internationally recognized as an authority in music technology in piano pedagogy and music education. Dr. Ajero has a YouTube channel with over 16,000 followers and hosts “The Piano Podcast with Mario Ajero.”

World-class pianist Zsolt Bognár has traveled as recitalist, chamber musician, and concerto soloist throughout the United States, Europe and Japan. In addition, he is the host of the growing online film series, “Living the Classical Life,” highlighting the world, work and process of today’s most famous performers and musical personalities.

I have always believed that to provide an extraordinary educational experience in music, one must find the most extraordinary musicians and educators. I am confident and excited that the first SSC Piano Camp will be just that – a world-class, fun-filled experience for the South Shore and beyond.

SSC Piano Camp runs August 14-18 at South Shore Conservatory, One Conservatory Drive in Hingham.  Students may register online at, or at 781-749-7565, ext. 10.

Jonathan Roberts is the chair of South Shore Conservatory’s piano department.

Meet Irina Gorin from SSC Piano Camp

Irina Gorin Headshot 4We are delighted to introduce you to one of our new SSC Piano Camp faculty members Irina Gorin.  How lucky are we to have her here this summer?

Irina, born in Kiev, Ukraine, studied at Kiev Music College and Kharkov Conservatory. She holds Masters Degrees in Piano Performance, Piano Pedagogy, Chamber Ensemble, and Accompaniment.

Over the last 30 years, Mrs. Gorin has established a reputation as one of the most prominent pedagogues for children in the United States and beyond.  Gorin Piano Studio’s graduates continue their musical education in Universities and Conservatories throughout the United States, pursuing diplomas in Performance, Pedagogy, and Music Education.  She also contributes to the enrichment of piano teachers by regularly conducting workshops and master classes. Mrs. Gorin is often sought after as a judge for local and national piano competitions.

In order to showcase the talent of young pianists, she founded and served as President of the Carmel Klavier International Piano Competition, which has welcomed competitors from all over the world since 2014.

“Tales of a Musical Journey” is the culmination of her vast education and teaching experience.  The series uniquely blends Russian and American teaching methods to prepare beginning piano students for a classical repertoire.  Translated into seven languages with more coming, thousands of copies of this publication have been sold in more than 50 countries.

SSC Piano Camp runs August 14-18 at South Shore Conservatory’s Hingham campus. learn more about the other SSC Piano Camp faculty members at visit


Making our case for the importance of the arts in Massachusetts

Arts Advocacy DayBy Michael Busack
For many American arts organizations, 2017 is a time of some trepidation and uncertainty. The new administration looks to cut federal arts and culture funding, which supports hundreds of causes across the country.

On March 28, more than 600 Massachusetts arts administrators, students, educators and patrons joined together for MASSCreative’s Arts Matter Advocacy Day to support and build awareness for the need for state funding for the arts. The group gathered at Emerson College’s Paramount Theater to share storytelling and advocacy skills before marching through the Boston Common to the State House to meet with legislators to advocate for arts issues and funding.

Standing in a theater full of people was simultaneously emotional and empowering. A bit like a family reunion, we were side-by-side with many familiar faces who have been touched by the arts. A lot of us have dedicated our lives and careers to arts organizations and causes. We filled the room with raucous oratory, moving performance, a lot of hugs, and a few tears.

Looking around the Paramount, I was struck by the reality that the arts contribution to our communities is enormous. In a community with a vibrant arts scene, citizens have an accessible way to communicate with one another, across barriers of culture, race, class, and education level. It’s both how we process the complex world around us, and how we project our emotions and ideals to the larger society. The arts reflect societal trends and shapes them.

When you live in a community, such as ours, where the arts are valued, your students have access to stronger and balanced educations. Underserved populations in these areas have greater opportunities for positive and uplifting experiences and social connections. And even more important to those focused in the bottom line, the arts have a very significant economic impact on our communities.

According to the Arts and Economic Prosperity IV research report (widely considered the most comprehensive study on the American nonprofit arts and culture industry) America’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $135.2 billion in economic activity every year.  The breakdown is $61.1 billion in spending by organizations, and $74.1 billion in event-related spending by audiences. In addition, the industry supports 4.1 million jobs and generates $22.3 billion in government revenue. In my book, that’s a substantial impact on our economy!

Because we see the crucial need for and the incredible impact of the arts every day, talking to our legislators is something we in the arts are familiar with doing. At South Shore Conservatory we see the impact in the student with cerebral palsy who now has channels to communicate better with his family and world around him because of his music therapy. We see it in the student who receives full financial aid to provide access to an arts education that will allow her to attend the college of her dreams and become a future leader in our society. And we see it when we gather together, republicans and democrats, black and white, young and old, gay and straight, to share in the joy of a concert. For that short moment the barriers that divide us are down and we are far more similar than different.

We hope that those who recognize the importance of the arts in our everyday lives, help keep this conversation going.  In my view, music and the arts are not a want to have, but a need to have. To learn more about how you can help ensure the arts stay in Massachusetts, visit

Michael Busack is South Shore Conservatory’s Senior Director of External Affairs.

Honoring our Graduating Seniors

South Shore Conservency Gala, January 28, 2017.

By Sarah Troxler
In the spring, we are used to seeing signs peppering the lawns of proud families: “Home of a 2017 Grad!”  This sight comes hand in hand with the flourish of spring.  Warm, sunny weather, budding flowers dotting the fields, and the excitement that comes with the newness of the season and the close of the school year.  For high school seniors, this feeling is amplified tenfold.  They are preparing to usher in a new era of life, armed with all they have experienced and learned in their first 18 years.

At South Shore Conservatory (SSC), our high school seniors are very dear to us.  Many of them have been in our community for eight, nine, ten years or more – much longer than I myself have been on faculty.  They have literally grown up in our community, many of them studying with the same teacher for that period of time.  They have taken advantage of the wide range of offerings we have – from private instrument lessons, to group classes and ensembles, summer programs, performance opportunities.  Even seniors who have joined SSC in more recent years have done so because they have taken an extra step to reach beyond themselves and try something new, hone a skill, or become immersed in artistic endeavors.

Max Nakashima, a Cohasset senior who has been taking lessons at the Conservatory for nine years, studies percussion with Ed Sorrentino.  Max told me, “Without a doubt my time with the Conservatory has shaped my character and helped me grow not only as a musician but as a person. I know my life would not be the same if it were not for the Conservatory.”

On May 5, we celebrate our SSC seniors with an annual Graduating Seniors Recital.  Every year, seniors gather and are recognized for their time here, and present a special performance of their choice.  This year, 15 seniors will perform for their families, friends, SSC faculty and staff members who have had the privilege of watching these students grow up.  My role at SSC gives me a unique interaction with students, allowing me to work with those who study a variety of instruments and styles, as I serve as piano accompanist, and organize many student performances and events.  This senior recital is particularly special, because it is the last significant event many of them will take part in at SSC.  I know many of them personally because of their years of participation in all that SSC has to offer.
“SSC has shown me how to use music to discover who I am, express myself, inspire others, and celebrate life,” says Dalton Letorney who has been part of SSC’s community for eleven years, and studies voice with Lorna Jane Norris.  “No matter my future, music will guide me, ground me, and serve as the perfect medium with which I can share stories, emotions, and love with every listener.”

The Graduating Seniors Recital is an opportunity to recognize our students for their accomplishments as musicians, their hard work and creativity, and to celebrate their journey.  These students are singers, pianists, cellists, guitarists, drummers.  But they are also artists, caretakers, political enthusiasts, actors, writers, activists, leaders, and so much more.  We would like to take credit and say we helped make them who they are, but the larger reality is that these students have made the community at South Shore Conservatory who we are.

Join us Friday, May 5, 7 pm at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham to celebrate these talented seniors in performance.  The concert is free and open to the public. In addition to Dalton and Max, students performing include Nick Alessi, Katherine Bynarowicz, Sarah Calame, Maeve Chapman, Francesca Corrado, Brigie Driscoll, Julianna Fenton, Will Figler, Noah Goodman, Christian Koomey, Jewel McCauliffe, Sebastian Ramirez, and Kate Sullivan.

Meet Disco Deer


One of the perks of working at South Shore Conservatory is seeing the variety of art exhibits that come and go throughout the year.  This new exhibit includes tile work by local artist Stephen Jiranek, who happens to be part of the SSC family already.  Disco Deer (above) is one of his many creations, and it has people smiling on their way up to his full exhibit on the second floor of the Hingham campus.  This gallery is called the Robert & Dorothy Palmer Gallery.

On the first floor we have the mixed media art of Shannon McDonald.  Her cut up portraits are spellbinding.

Check us out at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham.  Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 am – 6:00 pm, Saturday, 9:00 am – 2:00 pm and during scheduled concerts. There is no admission charge.