Dancing for Change

Kaityn Mazzilli - adaptive dance

By Kaitlyn Mazzilli
My childhood bedroom did not have beautiful hardwood floors or a ballet barré. It was a small, carpeted room that transformed the day my older sister hung her mirror in our shared closet. All I needed to do was open the closet door and voilà, I had my very own dance studio. It was magic. I must have listened to Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror a million times while twirling around my bedroom, and I will never forget his message, “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change.” I could feel a change in myself each time I danced, and decided I was going to embody this message in my life. I was determined to manifest joy through dance, and invite others to change in the world along with me.

My family could not afford dance lessons in my early years, but when my sister was the stage manager at Weymouth High School, she brought me along to drama rehearsals. I fell in love with the world of performing arts, and started singing and dancing in summer musical reviews. I met dancer Jeanne Cheverie Norton who invited me to come dance with her at Center Stage Dance Studio.  She even created a payment plan so my family could afford it.

My first dance class took place at age 12.  I was beyond excited! I could not wait to start training to make my dance dreams a reality. At my first class however, I realized that many of the other students had been taking lessons since they were three years old, and I had a LOT of catching up to do. I worked hard to become a skillful dancing artist, but always felt sad when I saw dancers upset and discouraged when they made mistakes.  My heart broke when I witnessed individuals excluded from dance teams. At this point in my life, I decided I wanted to become a dance/movement therapist to ensure I had the skills necessary to bring the joy of dancing to ALL people, regardless of their age or ability, including those with limited financial resources.

Extensive training is required to become a dance/movement therapist, but I welcomed the challenge. I earned bachelor’s degrees in Theater & Dance and Psychology at Trinity College in 2011, and a master’s degree in dance/movement therapy and mental health counseling at Lesley University in 2014. After more than 3,000 hours in clinical training, I am now a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Registered Dance/Movement Therapist.

I joined South Shore Conservatory’s faculty in 2017 to develop an Adaptive Dance Program in the Creative Arts Therapies Department. After completing the Boston Ballet Adaptive Dance Teacher Training, I felt inspired to bring Adaptive Dance to the South Shore community. Adaptive Dance invites children and teens with and without special needs to dance together in an inclusive, welcoming setting. Students can express themselves freely, dancing to beloved popular music with a range of fun props including rainbow parachutes, ribbons, and scarves. In addition to providing physical exercise and creative expression, Adaptive Dance encourages social skills such as teamwork, friendship, and supports self-esteem. Classes are adapted to meet the individual needs of each student including those with physical, cognitive, and emotional disabilities such as Autism Spectrum Disorder and Down syndrome.

The fall session of Adaptive Dance starts the week of September 10. To learn more about Adaptive Dance visit https://sscmusic.org/dance-therapy/ or find South Shore Conservatory on Facebook.

Kaitlyn Mazzilli is a Registered Dance/Movement Therapist, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and South Shore Conservatory’s Adaptive Dance and Drama Teacher.

Debbie and Friends rock Wacky Wednesday!

Yesterday morning Debbie and Friends performed at our third Wacky Wednesday! Youngsters listened attentively to dynamic story-song fusions of favorite fables like Jack and the Beanstalk and The Three Little Pigs. They danced and sang along to the band’s original songs in addition to their fun-filled renditions of If You’re Happy and You Know It, Flying Purple People Eater, and Hokey Pokey!

Don’t miss our last Wacky Wednesday performance on August 1! SSC’s ImagineArts Band will take the stage! During the school year, members of our ImagineARTS Band share their favorite stories and songs with Kindergarteners in Brockton through ImagineARTS, an arts integrated literacy program. SSC invites you to join the ImagineARTS Band in moving, grooving, and crooning along to tunes like See How I’m Jumping, She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain, and Funga Alafia. This concert, great for ages 3-7 years, will conclude with a special presentation of the popular children’s story Pete the Cat and the New Guy.

For more information on our Wacky Wednesday concerts visit our website.

James Montgomery takes the stage

James montgomery

By Michael Busack

Summer is officially in full swing. We’ve just (barely) survived our first heat wave, all the fireworks have fizzled out, and our pools are open for business 24/7.

At South Shore Conservatory (SSC), this time of year is a flurry of world-class performances at locations across the South Shore. I was astounded to realize that this summer, SSC is presenting a whopping 108 performances from Memorial Day through Labor Day, including Evenings Under the Stars (EUS), Wacky Wednesdays, and student camp performances at the Jane Carr Amphitheater at our Hingham campus. This opportunity to participate in so much music and joy is exactly what drew me to SSC two years ago!

In July, I spend each Saturday night at the Jane Carr Amphitheater, enjoying a refreshing beverage and Evenings Under the Stars, our series of eclectic, world-class concerts in a picturesque venue, under the bright summer stars.  I really love this year’s lineup of EUS performances, but the one I’m most personally excited for is our final concert – James Montgomery Blues Band.  This was my suggestion.

Montgomery, a Boston blues legend, has been a fixture on the New England music scene since his rise in the 1970s. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to see Montgomery perform a few different times at venues across the state, and his talent never disappoints. Audience members are always in for a fantastic show.

I first saw Mr. Montgomery when I was a young journalist covering the Boston Music Awards in the fall of 2005. He and his blues band was performing with another music legend, Weepin’ Willie Robinson, who tragically died two years later in a fire. The event included a group of notable performances, among them local legends the Dropkick Murphys, and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. However, it was James Montgomery’s command of the crowd with his knockout harmonica playing that really caught my attention. Montgomery had boundless energy, crisscrossing the stage, and interacting with what felt like every audience member.

As SSC Director of Performance Beth MacLeod Largent and I discussed the EUS summer 2018 lineup, and how we hoped it would be a nice mix of up-and-coming artists and regional heavyweights, as well as a journey through musical genres, James Montgomery immediately came to mind. With nearly 50 years on the scene, six albums, and thousands of sold-out shows, Montgomery has set the standard for Boston blues. Beth agreed he’d be a stellar addition to a robust season.

I’m excited to experience Montgomery and his band’s incredible talent again in such a meaningful venue. I feel the same tingles I did almost 15 years ago as a 21-year-old kid.  I’ve put my tickets in my pocket and my lawn chair in my trunk, and hope you do the same.   You’ll be glad you did!

South Shore Conservatory’s Evenings Under the Stars concert series presents James Montgomery Blues Band on Saturday, July 28, 7 pm in the Jane Carr Amphitheater at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham.  The concert is sponsored by Dorothy Palmer.  Sip!@Summer Spotlight receptions provide entertainment and creative light bites, as well as beverages from Barrelhouse Z prior to the performance. For tickets to the concert and the reception, and for more information, visit sscmusic.org/EUS/.

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

Day 1 of our Music Educator Retreat!

DSC_0604Today we hosted day one of our third annual Music Educator Retreat, a conducting symposium for music educators. In attendance were college students aspiring to be educators, music teachers of all levels, and even retired teachers! Educators engaged in insightful conversations about music, music education, and the essence of their craft! Eric M. Laprade, conductor of the Festival Wind Ensemble at our concurring Summer Music Festival, gave a presentation on expressive movement for educators. Pictured to the right is Malcolm W. Rowell, Jr., who was a featured speaker at the event! Another of today’s highlights was a conducting feedback and critique session.  Stay tuned for day two!

Karen K & the Jitterbugs kick off Wacky Wednesdays with a dynamic, fun-filled performance!

On Wednesday, July 11, we kicked off our Wacky Wednesday concert series with a crowd favorite – Karen K & the Jitterbugs! While the audience members were barely as tall as the stage, that didn’t stop them from grooving to fun songs such as “Pancakes for Dinner” and “Fire Truck”! The concert was complete with bubble-blowing and food trucks – Mom on the Go, Sadie Mae’s Cupcake Cafe, and Zack’s Ice Cream Truck all served delicious treats!

For more information on our Wacky Wednesday summer concerts, please visit https://sscmusic.org/wacky/.


DMF launches this Friday, July 13!


Sugar Ray and the Bluetones kick off DMF on Friday, July 13.

We are so excited that the 13th season of SSC’s Duxbury Music Festival (DMF) starts this Friday, July 13, with a Blues Concert featuring Sugar Ray and the Bluetones.   Our own Anthony Geraci plays piano with this award-winning blues band. This year’s highlights include the Festival Overture Concert and Reception (July 15), with a special performance of  A Soldier’s Tale, an All-Bernstein Concert (July 19) celebrating the centenary of the composer’s birth, Beatles on the Green (July 20) and Family Fest (July 21), a wonderful family day that gives the youngest music fans the opportunity to experience and interact with the music! The DMF Winners Concert and Farewell Reception (July 27) is a wonderful evening celebrating the next generation of great musicians, our talented DMF students!

For more information and a full performance schedule, please visit sscmusic.org/dmf/.

Light on the metal, heavy on the horn

Heavy Metal Horns imageBy John Vanderpool
I began playing the alto saxophone in fourth grade. Seems all my friends at the time wanted to play musical instruments and be in the school band.  I wanted to join them. Alto sax was my choice because we conveniently had one at home that my mother had played in high school.  I tried lots of other instruments through my years in school bands, but always seemed to gravitate back to the woodwinds, including tenor and baritone sax, flute, and even oboe! I always liked the role these instruments played in many different styles of music.

I started playing with the “heavy metal horns” in the late 1980’s, when Henley Douglas (tenor & baritone sax) started recruiting a horn section for the Big Blues Meanies, a band that was making a name for itself in the Boston rock scene. We kept recruiting horn players with the idea that we’d always have a “section” of at least two horns on any gig. This was back when bands could, and did, play almost every night of the week!

We eventually had six horns (two trumpets, three saxophones, and one trombone) and everybody would show up for each gig! This is the section that Dan Zanes of the Del Fuegos heard one night at Bunratty’s in Boston, and asked us to record with the Del Fuegos for their RCA release “Smokin’ in the Fields.” The first live show we played with them, Dan introduced us as “The Big Brass Ones” (we weren’t yet called Heavy Metal Horns). Well, after that show we were all hanging out at a local bar in New Hampshire, when a guy comes in with a big group of people, notices us and says “Hey, I saw you guys earlier tonight, you were great! You’re “The Big Brass Balls”!! Henley turns to me and says, “We need a different name!” That night we came up with the name Heavy Metal Horns.

We also decide that night that our newly formed band would always have horns up front as the main focal point. The idea was to play any style of music we liked as long as it featured horns. We recruited some of our favorite musicians and songwriters from some of the best Bands in Boston for our first HMH recording. Over the next few years we were awarded “Best New Band” by Boston Magazine in 1990, received Boston Music Awards 1991 for “Outstanding Club Band,” and “Best Funk Band” in 1992. Also in ’92, we received Boston Phoenix/WFNX Best Music Poll award for Best Local R&B/Soul/Blues Act.

The summer of 1991, the horn section was asked again to play with another local act making it big – Extreme. We toured Europe, Japan, US, and Canada as part of their 92/93 Stop the World Tour.  It was an amazing experience.  Highlights included two sold out nights at both Wembley Arena in London, and the Budokan in Tokyo. As a result of our exposure with Extreme, we started touring nationally with our own band, crisscrossing the US and Canada multiple times throughout the 90’s.

Our gigging has slowed down substantially in the past few years, but it’s been a blast doing shows. Many of us are off doing our own thing.  Me? I’m busy teaching and working at South Shore Conservatory.  Two years ago we celebrated our 25th anniversary at Johnny D’s in Somerville to a full house

If you like horn bands that rock, and also delve into blues, jazz, reggae and soul, you’ll have a hard time keeping yourself your seat. I guarantee you’ll be tempted to get up and dance!

South Shore Conservatory’s Evenings Under the Stars concert series presents Heavy Metal Horns in the Jane Carr Amphitheater at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham.  For more information and tickets, visit https://sscmusic.org/eus/ or call 781-749-7565, x22.

John Vanderpool, is a member of South Shore Conservatory’s Jazz/Rock/Pop department.  He has been with South Shore Conservatory since 1999.

Take a glimpse at day 1 of Summer Music Festival!


First morning rehearsal!


Morning master class!

Today marks the first day of our annual Summer Music Festival, a wind ensemble and jazz program for young musicians! We have a few exciting activities planned for the day. This morning Festival Wind Ensemble rehearsed in the Jane Carr Amphitheater. From there, students broke off into groups to participate in master classes. Afternoon sessions begin after lunch break!

Honoring a mother’s ardent support

Nicholas and Dorothy
By Nick Palmer

We are very excited to present the Evenings Under the Stars (EUS) Festival Orchestra’s Opera and Musical Theatre Gala on July 7 in South Shore Conservatory’s (SSC) Jane Carr Amphitheater. As it is my 22nd season, my longest running conducting gig, and an opportunity to return to my hometown of Hingham, this concert has great meaning for me.  It will be made even more special this year as the concert honors my mother, a long-time SSC trustee and EUS supporter, Dorothy Palmer, who turned 90 this year.

My family has had a long relationship with SSC. I remember starting clarinet lessons, while in elementary school, at the Old Ship Church Parish House on Main Street. Back then, SSC was a satellite location of Boston’s New England Conservatory (NEC), but around 1970 became a separate institution, moving to its current location shortly thereafter.

My mother had an abundance of musical training on both the violin and piano, and later the harp. We even performed together in the Hingham Civic Orchestra for a short time.  Mom was always very involved in several South Shore arts organizations, and wished to see SSC flourish. She became a trustee early on, and remains heavily involved decades later. One of the first things she was tasked with was helping to make SSC a unique and separate organization from NEC in Boston.

Because my mother was a musician, as well as a prominent painter, music was always part of our household.  My parents took me and my brother, Bob, also a musician and currently a Boston-area real estate developer, to the Boston Symphony many Tuesday nights. My dad was also a big music fan of music, especially opera. He grew up in the Berkshires, near Tanglewood, and brought us back there to attend summer concerts. I remember so many great Tanglewood performances.  We once had the opportunity to meet Madame Koussevitzky, widow of legendary BSO conductor, Serge Koussevitzky, while there.

My mother has always been an ardent supporter of my career as a conductor, starting with my first “gig” at age 16, conducting the Massachusetts Youth Wind Ensemble.  To this day, she always asks me what I am conducting at any given concert, and often requests recordings of concerts in which I have been involved. That constant support is something I have always cherished, along with her inherent knowledge of music: she always knows what is going on in a performance and what its strengths (and weaknesses) are. These qualities have also helped her in her role as an SSC trustee.

This season the EUS Festival Orchestra performs both Broadway and opera, to honor my mother and her support of SSC.  I have always loved opera and have had the good fortune to have conducted dozens of operas with companies both in the US and Europe. In the first half, we will feature two wonderfully talented women: SSC Director of Performance Beth MacLeod Largent, and SSC alum Natalie Polito, who played Yum-Yum in SSC’s EUS production of The Mikado in 2015, performing excerpts from such well-known operas as Carmen and La Traviata.  The second half features Broadway, with everything from Phantom to “Seventy-six Trombones” from Music Man.

Our grand finale includes selections from West Side Story featuring SSC’s Holly Ann Jennings, and Boston-based tenor Blake Siskavich, followed by a slightly expanded version of the “1812 Overture” and “Stars and Stripes Forever.”  I hope to see you there!

South Shore Conservatory’s Evenings Under the Stars Festival Orchestra presents Opera and Musical Theatre Gala on Saturday, July 7, 7 pm in the Jane Carr Amphitheater at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham.  Tickets at https://sscmusic.org/eus/ or call
781-749-7565, x22.