By 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.