Take a musical coffee break on October 31

Robert Bekkers

If you’re looking for a fun, entertaining way to break up your humdrum Tuesday, come and join us on Tuesday, October 31, 11 am at the Ellison Center for the Arts in Duxbury at for our first Coffee Break Concert Series (CBCS) performance, Wind and Wood: American Songs featuring the talents of SSC faculty members Robert Bekkers on guitar and Donald Zook on flute.  The program highlights American songs, including music from Appalachia and some dance music.

Sponsored by The Village at Duxbury, all CBCS performances are free and open to the public.  Audience members are encouraged to come early to secure a seat, and enjoy a short pre-concert talk about the music they will be hearing.

For more information contact Anne Smith at 781-452-7455, x210 or a.smith@sscmusic.org.


Perfecting your craft through the American Songbook

Dianne Legro

By Dianne Legro

You know what music is? God’s little reminder that there’s something else besides us in this universe, a harmonic connection between all living beings, every where, even the stars. Robin Williams in August West

I’m so glad Robin Williams said that.

I remember as a child feeling ecstatic listening to the whisper of the wind in the trees, birdsong, the chime of bells in the distance. The feeling touched my soul and made me want to sing, and I sang everywhere I went. On hilltops, beaches, woods, in school, church…you name it.

Today, in my school programs and music workshops I tell kids that story and ask if they have had this feeling too. Always, all the hands fly up. They have it, and luckily most adults tell me they remember it, too.  Feeding my soul and others’ souls by making a connection to the language of spirit through performing music and teaching has become one of my life’s greatest joys.

Good music speaks to you. Classical, Broadway or art song, it can change you.

Another genre I have watched become a revelation to many singers and audiences is the music of our great American Songbook of standards. Songs by composers such as Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Dorothy Parker, are also lovely reminders of why we want to sing in the first place. These wonderful, witty, playful, elegant songs have the ability to engage great fun, and arouse deep feelings in both the audience and the performer.

Singers wishing to excel in their chosen genre can grow and enhance their expressive range from studying this repertoire. Artists from Dame Kiri Te Kanawa to Rod Stewart are finding these songs and making them their own. Some of my recent favorites performers of the Songbook rep are Kristen Chenoweth, Audra McDonald, Harry Connick Jr., Diana Krall, and of course the beloved Barbara Cook. All are “crossovers” who have discovered these love songs (love lost, found or searching for), comedies, ballads and up-tempo character songs in the collections and reinvent these gems in their own style.

If you are a beginner singer, or a student, or a lifetime learner who loves to sing, these songs are a gift. The songs are easy to learn and they get better and better as you discover what they mean to you. Do you dream of putting a few songs together in a set and performing for friends and at parties? That’s called cabaret! All you need is a piano or recorded accompaniment. Many singers love to do just that, and I love to help singers put the right songs together with a little rhythm and deliver them with confidence and delight.

Anyone wishing to expand their skills and connect with others who appreciate this music are invited to attend American Songbook at South Shore Conservatory’s One Conservatory Drive, Hingham location on Thursday nights from 6:00-7:30 starting on November 2. We will meet for six weeks to learn and sing and hone the craft of performing these songs. Come discover and enjoy!

For more information on this and other voice department programs, visit http://sscmusic.org/class_american-songbook.htmlhttp://sscmusic.org/voice_department.html or call 781-749-7565, x 10.

Broadway veteran Dianne Legro has been a professional singer since age 11 and has enjoyed an international career as an award-winning performer and teaching artist.  American Songbook is the first class she is teaching at South Shore Conservatory.

DMF Fall Preview Concert this Sunday!

dmitry janna compressed

South Shore Conservatory’s Duxbury Music Festival (DMF) welcomes back Dmitry Yablonsky, cello and Janna Gandelman, violin, along with DMF Artistic Director Stephen Deitz, piano, and DMF collaborative pianist Regina Yung, for a special fall preview concert celebrating composers from England, France and Russia on Sunday, October 22 at 4 pm at the Ellison Center for the Arts in Duxbury.  There will be a reception following the concert featuring a raw bar compliments of Duxbury’s own Island Creek Oysters.

Tickets are $75 per person which includes a $40 tax deductible gift to the Conservatory. The Ellison Center is located at 64 St. George Street in Duxbury. For more information and to purchase tickets contact Karen Bellinger at 781-452-7455, ext. 262 or at k.bellinger@sscmusic.org, or visit www.duxburymusicfestival.org.

That wasn’t written for me, but I’m going to do it anyway!

Donald Zook

By Donald Zook
Over the past 30 or so years, I have played hundreds of concerts with music written specifically for my primary instrument, the flute.  Recently, though, I was thinking it would be a neat idea to have a whole concert of music that was never intended to be played by woodwind instruments, but performed on woodwinds.  It opens up a whole realm of possibilities!  Thus, the concert Gone with the Winds: That wasn’t written for me! was conceptualized.

I told my fellow South Shore Conservatory (SSC) woodwind musicians they could pick pieces they have always loved to listen to but never had the opportunity to play.  The challenge, of course, is that our instruments have more limited range and capability than other instrument families. String instruments, for example, have a more extensive range than woodwinds; plus they are capable of playing more than one note at once.

When we transcribe a piece, we are particularly sensitive to what the composer had in mind.  Generally speaking, any piece of music can be transcribed and played on another instrument. Yet the result is not always the same. Some transcriptions I have played I will probably never play again, while others worked out so well it sounds better than it did on the original instrument for which it was written.

All the pieces we’ve chosen have that hum-ability factor about them and are recognizable.  You won’t be able to mistake the Carmen Suite selections that trumpet player Andrew Moreschi will be performing, nor Louis Armstrong’s Struttin’ with Some Barbecue performed by saxophonist John Vanderpool.  As for me, I chose L’pres-midi d’un faune by Debussy, a piece originally written for a full orchestra.  I thought it would be particularly challenging and fun to re-create Debussy’s piece for just two instruments (flute and piano) instead of 60.  I am particularly excited to hear clarinetist Gita Brown play a work written by J.S. Bach.  The clarinet was just invented in 1690, right around the birth of Bach.  There are absolutely no pieces written for the clarinet in the baroque era, so it will be delighted to hear what Bach missed out on.

This is not the first time this cast of musicians has performed together in concert. In particular, I have played with SSC pianist Sarah Troxler many times before.  I’m sure she’ll agree we make a wonderful team.  She is a very creative and sensitive performer. It is the first time I will have the honor of playing with clarinetist Peter Bianca. I am excited to discover what ideas he will bring to the performance of Franz Doppler’s Andante and Rondo.

I invite you to join us on Sunday, October 15, 4 pm at 64 St. George Street in Duxbury, or October 22, 4 pm at One Conservatory Drive, Hingham, for Gone with the Winds: That was not written for me!.  Relax, close your eyes and let the winds faculty spark your imagination with musical possibilities.

This is the first of five Conservatory Concert Series (CCS) productions in CCS’s 2017-18 season.  Admission is free.  For more information about this and other SSC performances, visit sscmusic.org.

Donald Zook is Chair of SSC’s Woodwind and Brass Department, and Director of Chamber Music at South Shore Conservatory.