Performathon 2019: a gift to those who cannot afford lessons

Elisabeth HeissnerBy Elizabeth Heissner
Whenever I go into Barnes & Noble (B&N) in Hingham to buy a book I’ve been itching to read, I always think of the times I played flute at South Shore Conservatory’s Performathon fundraiser. Tucked between the row of young adult bestsellers and stacks of puzzles, I played music for both my family and other welcoming members of the South Shore Conservatory (SSC) community.

For almost 15 years, SSC has held this annual fundraiser at Barnes & Noble Bookstore to raise money for Tuition Assistance for those who may not be able to afford lessons. In addition to giving students a beautiful place to perform, B&N also donates a percentage of sales during Performathon days toward this fundraiser. Friends and family can similarly get involved, and sponsor performers who are playing to raise funds for students with financial need. I was fortunate to begin taking lessons at South Shore Conservatory when I was in sixth grade, which marked my first year playing at Performathon. As a little 12-year-old, I didn’t know what to expect at the fundraiser. Flute shaking and cheeks ablaze, I quickly bowed after the last fermata, and smiled awkwardly at my parents. I heaved a huge sigh of relief as I hurried towards them, both of whom exclaimed how proud they were.

Six years later, and I have quite a few performathons under my belt. Though I’m still greeted by similar nerves before performing, I’ve grown more confident and appreciate the fundraiser more each year. What I think is truly special about the event is that few other recitals see the evolution of musicians so distinctly. Performers range from four-year-olds playing Suzuki violin, to trios of high school woodwind students, all equally praised for their musical endeavors. Between the friendly audience of proud family members and friends, to the warm environment of Barnes & Noble, it’s a truly welcoming space for musicians. I’ve also noticed that the regular shoppers in the store appreciate hearing the music too, as they linger and listen attentively to the arias, sonatas, and concertos.

As a high school senior, I know this year’s Performathon will unfortunately be my last one. I’m sure the experience will be bittersweet, but I’m thrilled to be able to play for my friends and family as part of the South Shore Conservatory community, this one last time. The fundraiser has always represented the crucial role that current SSC students play: improving access to music. Since the fundraiser helps raise money for student scholarships, anyone in the community can help bring music into a student’s life. And having spent my last six years immersed in music, I cannot stress enough how grateful I am for the opportunity to study flute. Though Performathon gives musicians vital playing experience, the event stands for so much more. This fundraiser extends an invitation to music to those who may not otherwise afford lessons. This makes Performathon truly invaluable.

South Shore Conservatory’s Performathon 2019 runs from Thursday, April 4, 6 to 9 pm, Friday, April 5, 4 to 9 pm, Saturday, April 6, 9 am to 7 pm, and Sunday, April 7, 12 noon to 6 pm.  The event is free and open to the public.

Barnes & Noble is located at 96 Derby Street in Hingham. For the complete performance schedule, to donate, or to learn more about SSC’s Performathon, visit https://sscmusic.org/performathon/ or find South Shore Conservatory on Facebook.

Elisabeth Heissner is a senior at Hingham High School.  She is also a member of South Shore Conservatory’s Student Leadership Team.

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Is there anything better than dancing with friends?

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SSC’s Creative Arts Therapies Department is excited to announce a new dance offering on Saturday mornings in Hingham!

Dancing with Friends is an inclusive dance program designed to support the development of social communication skills for children ages 4-6 and 7-11. The program is facilitated by Kaitlyn Mazzilli, a Registered Dance/Movement Therapist, so adaptations can be made to make the program accessible to ALL!  Participants will explore a range of colorful dance/movement props including parachutes, dancing ribbons, and musical instruments! For more information, email k.mazzilli@sscmusic.org

The Three B’s: Beethoven, Brahms, Busoni!

Trio Peter, Mark, KyungBy Mark Goodman
As a long-standing faculty member at South Shore Conservatory (SSC), I am always excited when new talent comes into our ranks. So, with the recent arrivals of clarinetist Peter Bianca and cellist Kyung-Nam Oh, I saw the opportunity to put together a wonderful chamber music concert with these two fine musicians. Although I had performed with Peter the year before, and with Kyung last fall, the two had never met each other. But when I pitched the idea to each of them for a trio concert, they both readily agreed. Although their playing styles are quite different, in our first rehearsal a rapport was immediately established, with the common language of music bringing us together.

I could characterize the differences in their playing as “fire and ice.” Anybody who heard Kyung’s exciting performance in last fall’s SSC Debuts concert will remember the amazing rhythmic vitality and white-hot energy he brought to his playing of the Popper Hungarian Rhapsody. And SSC audiences have had several opportunities to hear the poetic lyricism in Peter’s playing, from his Mozart concerto in Evening Under the Stars, to his performance in the Beethoven trio from last year’s concert series. Kyung’s and Peter’s styles are different, but complement each other beautifully, and as pianist, I am the glue binding it all together.

The centerpiece of our Three B’s program is the Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano by Brahms, possibly the greatest piece written for this combination, and a staple of the repertoire.  Its composition was the happy result of Brahm’s meeting clarinetist Richard Muhlfeld.  After the completion of his String Quintet in G in 1890, Brahms had decided that he was done with composing.  But after hearing Muhlfeld play, he was inspired to return to composition, composing the Trio, as well as his Clarinet Quintet and two Clarinet Sonatas, and the world is all the luckier for it. The Trio opens with a haunting solo cello melody, followed by restless figures in the piano, giving way to a passionate Allegro. Following the Allegro is a heart-felt Adagio, a lilting Viennese- style landler, and a concise, driving Finale.

The rest of our Three B’s program is comprised of duos.  These selections also reflect the varying temperaments of the players. Peter and I will perform Elegie by Ferruccio Busoni. One of the greatest pianists of the early 20th century, Busoni composed orchestral music, chamber music and solo piano works, but he may be best known for his masterful piano transcriptions of Bach. As its title implies, Elegie is lyrical and expressive, and unfolds with an endless melody in the style of Wagner.

Kyung and I will perform two movements from Dmitri Shostakovich’s Sonata for Cello and Piano, composed in 1934. This work has all the trademarks of Shostakovich’s style, including spikey dissonance, sarcastic wit, and a Scherzo with barbaric rhythmic drive.   Bringing a sunny element to the program is Beethoven’s Duo No. 1 for Clarinet and Bassoon, played here with cello. This a light-hearted, cheerful piece, typical of Beethoven’s early style.

This program has something for everyone – a romantic masterpiece, 20th century rarities, and of course, Beethoven!  We hope you can join us.

The Three B’s faculty chamber concert is Sunday, March 31, 4 pm at South Shore Conservatory’s Cox Hall, One Conservatory Drive in Hingham.  The concert is free and open to the public.  To learn more about performance at SSC, visit sscmusic.org or find South Shore Conservatory on Facebook.

Pianist Mark Goodman has been with South Shore Conservatory since 1981. A Hingham resident, he is formerly Chair of SSC’s Piano Department.

Building repertoire and friendships

 

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Instructor Dianne Legro

By Liz Valicenti and Kathleen McGuire
The American Songbook repertoire is a wonderful collection of songs written for Broadway and Hollywood from the 1920’s -1960’s. What makes this body of work so great is the craft of the writers, and the timelessness of these beautifully-crafted songs. They all stand the test of time. The stories and emotions are relatable, and speak to us directly, no matter who you are.

 

South Shore Conservatory’s American Songbook class, for young adult and adults, uses this rich repertoire to help singers deepen their artistry, build their vocal technique, confidence and stage skills.  Students Liz and Kathleen share their experience with the class and instructor Dianne Legro, a Broadway veteran.

Kathleen:  When I found my way to American Songbook, I was looking for a voice class to help me get my voice ‘in shape’ so I could be the best version of me with the voice I have. I thought a small group voice class would be more fun than private lessons, since I just want to enjoy singing and meet some people.   Prior to joining the class, my singing experience was performing in high school and college musicals and choruses, about 40 years ago. I sang in the St. Mary’s Cathedral Choir in San Francisco about 20 years ago, and joined Snug Harbor Community Chorus last year.

Liz: I’ve always been drawn to the type of music and singing from the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and felt this would be a good fit for me. I immediately felt very welcomed by Dianne and the other students.  It was a very inclusive, non-judgmental environment.  There’s always going to be some trepidation and angst in making oneself vulnerable in front of strangers, but Dianne quickly put everyone at ease.

I originally thought that the time when other students were singing and getting instruction might be somewhat wasted time.  However, I was surprised at how much I learned from listening to both student and teacher.  I also didn’t realize I would become a cheerleader for others in the class as I wanted them to improve and learn as much as I wanted to!

Kathleen:  Even before the class started Dianne took the time to call each student to welcome each one and let us know she was there to “serve” us, her upbeat, warm and ‘at your disposal’ message made me feel great. I was surprised how quickly I was able to learn a couple new songs and perform them for the other students. It was great to have Mark Goodman to accompany us on the piano. I had no idea when I signed up for the class that Mark would run adult workshops, and that I could go to recitals and concerts sponsored by the Conservatory.

Liz:  I’ve sung on and off most of my life, mainly in church choirs, or community choirs. I realized I really didn’t have the tools and the skillset to improve my singing.  I knew there was still so much to learn. (You CAN teach an old dog new tricks!) Dianne is an amazing instructor.  She has an amazing talent for identifying and focusing on the positive, but she can also deliver criticism without it every feeling like criticism.  I think the fact that a room of strangers can get together and share something they have in common is just a wonderful thing to experience.  We have a shared love of music and expressing ourselves through our voices.

If you like to sing, and are eager to discover more about breathing techniques, phrasing, exploring different ways of using your voice, check out American Songbook at South Shore Conservatory, One Conservatory Drive, Hingham.  The spring session runs Wednesday evenings, from 6-7:30 pm, until May 29.  More at sscmusic.org/american-songbook, or find South Shore Conservatory on Facebook.

Let them be musical

Another Music Together

It’s shocking how an early introduction to music gives children a learning head start.

By Christina McSharry
A heartbeat, the sound of your mother’s voice, sway, bounce, rock, repeat… a baby comes into the world hearing tone and feeling rhythm, often soothed by both as well. Music is a universal language, connecting babies and their caregivers in memories that will last a lifetime. I cherish the songs my father would sing to me when I was a young child. I’ve even sung them to my own son, adding some new ones too. One of them is our bedtime song, and as soon as he hears the first few words, his sleepy head falls onto my shoulder. At sixteen months, he’s begun singing parts of the song with me. The sounds are familiar because we’ve sung it before every nap and bedtime since he was born. I relax when I start to sing it too. It’s magical.

Contrary to what many people believe, we are all born with an ability to sing in tune and move accurately to a steady beat. The window for learning these skills is wide open in early childhood. Once a child turns five or six, the window starts to close and learning these skills becomes much more difficult. Not impossible, but certainly not as easy. It’s not difficult to introduce music at a young age either. Singing a song to brush teeth, banging on Tupperware with wooden spoons, or having a dance party in the living room after dinner are examples of fun and easy ways to support young children musically at home. Playing recorded music is okay, but the true experience happens when the music and movement is live, not just consumed as entertainment.

Introducing music at an early age helps other areas of development as well. To name a few… language, literacy, math, social and emotional awareness. Music learning supports all learning so why not introduce it at an early age when it comes so naturally, and the capacity for learning musical concepts is so high? Having worked in early childhood for several years before I began teaching Music Together® at South Shore Conservatory (SSC), I understand the best ways for children to learn. They watch, they listen, they feel.  Give young children well-rounded music experiences to satisfy all of their senses, and they’ll learn from you. Allow them to hear ​your ​voice singing, allow them to watch ​you ​ move your feet to the beat, and allow them to feel​ your ​ steady tap on their leg when you read a book with rhyme and rhythm.

Remember that children need to understand a concept before expressing it outwardly. Even though they may not clap their hands the first time you sing If You’re Happy and You Know It, there is an important inward process taking place inside your child.  Eventually they will be able to clap to the rhythm of the song, but that initial process is actually the most important part. You can teach your children how to love reading by reading, you can teach your children how to love cooking by cooking, you can teach your children how to love music by being musical. Regardless of your ability, don’t be afraid to be musical with your child. Your voice is the one they know and love the most.

Music Together® at SSC, for children ages newborn to four, provides a joyful musical environment through song, dance, and rhythmic activities. Children of mixed ages, with a caregiver, are invited to engage at their own level. SSC offers over thirty classes per session, between its One Conservatory Drive Hingham location; SSC’s Duxbury campus; United Methodist Church, 11 Church Street, Norwell; Inly School, 46 Watch Hill Drive, Scituate; and the South Shore Community Center, 3 North Main Street, Cohasset.

Learn more about Music Together® at https://sscmusic.org/music-together-at-ssc/. The spring session has just started.  Music Together®, specifically for infants, starts next week!

Christina McSharry has been teaching Music Together® at South Shore Conservatory since 2016.

Working in Harmony: Music and Dance Students in Performance

March 3 combined recital 2019When South Shore Conservatory held its monthly student recital at the Ellison Center for the Arts yesterday, the audience was treated to a unique collaborative performance between students from SSC’s dance and piano departments.  Piano student Hayley Cardillo, Marshfield, accompanied dancers Olivia Stock, Duxbury, and Gabriel Wittrup, Scituate as they performed J.S. Bach’s Prelude in C Major.

Performance is a fundamental part of SSC’s mission, and recitals such as this are offered every month for private and group lesson students to showcase their work. Collaborative performance opportunities like these enhance SSC students’ studies, and allow for greater understanding of working cooperatively with other disciplines, while preparing for their future both on and off the stage.

When it comes to working across departments for this type of collaboration, Dance Department Chair Susie Guthro stated, “Dance and live accompaniment go hand in hand. We are fortunate to be a department within a larger arts organization that provides unique access to work with student musicians.”

The benefits of having student musicians and student dancers working together is mutual. Student pianist, Cardillo stated, “The piece was really circular and flowy, and having the dancers be a part of it really magnified that.”

From a dancer’s perspective Stock commented, “Having live accompaniment makes me connect to the music more, and allows my emotions to show within my dancing.”

Cameron Igo: Driven by music

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Congratulations to percussion student Cameron (Cam) Igo who was named by Music Drives Us as recipient of the Drives for Drums Grant in honor of Sib Hashian. This year Ernie Boch’s Music Drives Us (MDU) received a record number of applicants, but Cam and his passion for playing drums really stuck out to them! Cam is a student of Ed Sorrentino, and is drummer for SSC rock band Not Today. As the winner, Cam receives his first new drum kit, from Guitar Center.

MDU, a New England non-profit organization, seeks out organizations and individuals interested in using music as a tool to better the lives of people in all segments of society.

Here’s an excerpt from his award-winning essay:

My family tells me stories from my toddler days of me finding anything I could create a rhythm on. My first set of drums was a pair of bongos that I would play constantly, entertaining neighbors and friends at our local beach and at our home. At the age of six, my parents signed me up for formal percussion lessons at the South Shore Conservatory in Duxbury, Massachusetts. I have been taking percussion lessons there for eight years now. Through the Conservatory, I was able to join a band called “Not Today” where we play alternative music. We have played at several locations, including the Middle East and The New World Tavern and we get together every week to practice. I am also involved in my school band, a jazz band, and next year, the High School marching band and a jazz combo. When I am not rehearsing or taking lessons, I like to attend open jams or open mics with my parents on the weekends. You can find me playing Blues or just keeping the time on my Cajon to an acoustic guitar lead!”

Enjoy your new kit, Cam!