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.

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