Award-winning DMF violinist performs at Evenings Under the Stars

Caroline Cox Turek photo

We are so excited to have Duxbury Music Festival competition winner Caroline Cox Turek performing with the Evenings Under the Stars Festival Orchestra and Conductor Nicholas Palmer, on Saturday, July 13 in the Carr Amphitheater, One Conservatory Drive, Hingham!  They’re featuring Vivaldi’s Summer and Winter concerti from The Four Seasons.  Come and see this amazing violinist!

Tickets at

Calm, Cool and Classical

Nicholas Palmer conducts EUS Festival Orchestra

Nicholas Palmer conducts EUS Festival Orchestra

By Elaine Sorrentino

When I purchased my very first SUV, a bright red GMC Terrain, a couple of years ago, its car radio had preset stations.  I am always curious as to what others listen to while driving.  Most of the presets were to classical music stations, ones I rarely listened to. Even though I work at South Shore Conservatory (SSC), which celebrates every type of music, I have no musical training, and felt classical music was inaccessible to people like me.  In short, I felt I was being pretentious listening to music I could not put into context.

So, I systematically changed all the buttons to my go-to radio stations:  talk radio, local news and traffic reports, quiz shows, hits from the 80’s and more; but I saved one of the classical presets in the mix…just in case I should have a sudden change of heart.

Well, since I’ve purchased my car, the news has made white knuckle drivers out of all of us.  Never mind the national and international scenes, locally the news has been depressing: a taxi driver shot and left for dead for refusing to drive a man to Mansfield; a string of arsons in Taunton; Zdeno Chara out with a broken jaw…it goes on and on.  No matter your beliefs, it’s been a tumultuous ride (and not just in my car), and the news comes to us constantly.

Last week I decided I’d had enough.  I needed a break from the terrible news.  So I tuned in to my oldies music station, but still could not find the emotional break I needed until I hit the classical music button, and there was the soothing calm I longed for.  My spirits lifted almost immediately, and I relaxed as I drove to a meeting I knew could be stressful.  With my eyes on the road, it took me a while to realize what had happened. In the middle of chaos I felt happy.  This music was the salve I needed, and unexpectedly familiar in parts.  As I listened to Copland’s Appalachian Spring, I heard a segment of music that I recognized as Lord of the Dance from my days in the St. Thomas More folk group. I also heard the “beef, it’s what’s for dinner” commercial music, another Copland favorite, actually called Hoedown.

I’ve been finding myself going back and forth, from listening to talk radio to inform me, to listening to classical music to calm me. I now know I don’t need to “understand” the music, I just need to enjoy the music. The other day I was excited to hear another familiar, uplifting tune by Vivaldi. It was his concerti Spring from the Four Seasons.  I think most people would recognize this tune. I remember hearing a piece of that music in the movie Pretty Woman years ago.  It’s catchy.

While I know I’ll still need my weekly dose of Queen and John Mellencamp, the classical music station will always be my stop for calm.  This summer, when our Evenings Under the Stars Festival Orchestra presents Vivaldi’s Winter and Summer, I’ll be in the front row calmly listening for those familiar phrases that make me happy.

Find out more about SSC performances and program at, or find South Shore Conservatory on Facebook.


Elaine Sorrentino is South Shore Conservatory’s Communications Director. She lives in Pembroke with her husband “Eddie Spaghetti” Sorrentino, who is a classic in her book!

Helping to shape future educators

SSC Teaching Academy fellows 2018

By Elaine Sorrentino

Each summer, as I look at all our Summer Music Festival (SMF) faculty members and masterclass presenters, I am struck by how many familiar faces I see.  Almost every SMF coach and conductor, including SMF Music Director Eric Laprade, is a past South Shore Conservatory (SSC) SMF participant.  So, the question is, do students wishing to make music their profession seek out Summer Music Festival to round out their music education, or does the experience with Summer Music Festival plant the desire to make music their profession?  It’s something I ponder.

These influential educators tell me how much they enjoy coming together for two weeks each summer, so much that year to year there is very little turnover in staffing.  They feel a strong sense of responsibility in their interactions with the students – from greeting them in the morning, to instructing them on their instruments.  Many of them work in public school systems, and use summer months to rejuvenate and embrace new music challenges with students hungry to be pushed outside their comfort zones.  At Summer Music Festival, there’s an underlying sense of trust and love, as both educator and student work toward a shared goal.

In addition to working with school-aged musicians, Summer Music Festival expanded its offerings last summer to include a mentorship program for college-aged students already immersed in music education.  SMF Teaching Academy is uniquely rounded in that it allows a group of selected “fellows” to experience being a faculty apprentice, from participating in supervised teaching of chamber music and sectional rehearsals, and large ensembles; group and individual teaching review sessions; teaching and leadership development sessions; and delves into related skill development, such as marketing and arts administration.  Laprade likes to refer to the experience as “providing an all-encompassing and honest look into what we do as educators.”

It was hard to tell who enjoyed having fellows on campus more –  the Academy students, or our SMF students.  The fellows loved working with high level high school talent, and the students loved working with educators-in-training who were only a few years older than themselves.  Students could imagine themselves in the same position in four years.  Again, the inspirational chicken or the egg question.

Last year’s SMF Teaching Academy was met with such high praise that Laprade decided to make it more intimate this year, inviting four instead of six fellows.  The 2019 team includes students from Eastman School of Music, University of Utah, Ithaca College and University of Delaware.  SSC is so committed to this initiative that these young educators study free of charge, with SSC friends and families graciously hosting them for the two-week period.

TJ Myers, one of the 2018 SMF Teaching Academy Fellows and a past SMF participant, summed up his personal experience well.  “South Shore Conservatory has been an integral part of my life since I was 14 years old, and seven years later I can still say that this program continues to help shape me into the musician, educator and truthfully, the young man I am today. I feel incredibly fortunate to have worked with the staff, students and the other fellows during the 12 days of the music festival this year. I learned way more than I thought I would and had real life teaching experience that I consider to be one of a kind. So thanks SMF and my friends and colleagues, this was undoubtedly the best part of my summer,” he said.

Learn more about Summer Music Festival, which runs from July 11-26, at, or check out the SMF Jazz Ensembles performance on Thursday, July 25 at 7 pm, or SMF’s final performance on Friday, July 26, 7 pm at One Conservatory Drive, Hingham.  Both performances are free of charge.


Elaine Sorrentino is South Shore Conservatory’s Communications Director.

The sounds of summer

Radio days picBy Beth MacLeod Largent
As I write this, it’s been raining for WEEKS on end, and thoughts of a nice hot summer feel like a far-away dream of paradise that might arrive……someday, maybe, sigh. I try not to let the weather get me down too much, as I know that summer always arrives, in all its hazy glory, and with it, bulbs hidden under the cold wet ground finally flower.

It’s my joy to continue programming performances for South Shore Conservatory’s Summer Spotlight series, which includes our Saturday Evenings Under the Stars concerts for those looking for entertainment for date night, as well as Wacky Wednesday concerts for our younger audience members. I believe that now, more than ever, live performance is an integral part of life to be experienced and savored.

Why do I feel so passionately about this? Because when I go to a restaurant during the dinner hour and look around, I don’t see many families actually talking and interacting together, sharing the experience.  I see many families with children and adults in their own worlds, focused on some kind of electronic devise. That makes me work even harder, knowing what magic there is in sharing a live, in-the-moment experience, such as a family dinner, or a performance under the stars. Anything can happen, and that’s one of the joys of being part of something live.  Everything rolls out organically.

Hours of preparation and practice are only part of preparing for the performance. Since we are outside, the weather might have an impact, and we are prepared. Performances go on rain or shine. Some of my most treasured memories are of tiny puddle-jumping Wacky Wednesdays concertgoers in shiny rain boots, whose joy wasn’t marred by a few raindrops. Entertainers onstage are ready for anything, so don’t be scared of live performance and the weather.  Even a small clap of thunder can add a bit of excitement to an already electrifying performance!  Over the many years I’ve been at South Shore Conservatory, more often than not the sun shines on Carr Amphitheater summer performances.

This summer at Evenings Under the Stars, you’ll see the exuberance of an orchestra that loves playing together once a year (with a conductor who is native to Hingham), a blues master at the top of his game, and you might even bring your dancing shoes so you can boogie along with a Big Band! Dancing is encouraged at all our live performances, and there’s nothing sweeter than seeing our youngest concertgoers movin’ and groovin’ to, perhaps, their very first live performance of Vanessa Trien.

What else will you experience?  At Wacky Wednesdays, bubbles abound at most concerts, of course. We’ve got some return performers (Karen K & the Jitterbugs), and some new performers (Matt Heaton and the Outside Toys).  And on Saturdays, you can purchase your beverage of choice, or bring a fun picnic dinner along, with something special from home.  We want you to be as comfortable as you can under the stars.

Close your eyes and listen – is that a clarinet dancing its way over the strings? Do you feel your shoulders relaxing, your smile returning, your heart lightening? When you are out under the stars, these warm moments become lifelong memories to treasure – especially as the weather turns cold, and we move inside for warmth. Feel the tepid breeze, hear music masters at work, and just BE for an hour or so.  I promise our live performances will be a gift you’ll be glad you gave yourself and your family.

South Shore Conservatory’s Summer Spotlight performances run from July 10 – July 31.  For a full schedule, or to purchase tickets, visit  SSC is located at One Conservatory Drive, Hingham.

Beth MacLeod Largent is South Shore Conservatory’s Director of Performance, and a member of SSC’s voice department.

SSC students compete in Friday’s South Shore’s Got Talent!

Lucid Dreamers June 2019

Lucid Dreamers

South Shore Conservatory sends best wishes to vocalists Laurel Denneen and Olivia Monarch, and SSC rock band Lucid Dreamers, who are competing in Wellspring’s South Shore’s Got Talent, in our Carr Amphitheater, One Conservatory Drive, Hingham, Friday, June 7 at 7 pm.




Laurel Denneen

Laurel Denneen

It should be a fun night of great music, great food/drink, to benefit the Sprout Foundation Center for Jobs at Wellspring Multi-Service Center.





Olivia Monarch.JPG

Olivia Monarch

Good luck to all performers.

You are already winners in our book!


Creative Ways to Battle Summer Boredom

South Shore Conservatory's Summer Music Festival All-Star Band ensemble students express their creativitity.

SSC’s All-Star Band 2019 students express their creativity

By Su D’Ambrosio
I remember that exciting feeling on the last day of school, anticipating freedom from homework and the alarm clock.  When I was in elementary school, summer meant long days playing outside with neighborhood friends. In high school, I had a summer job, but still plenty of time for reading books for pleasure and enjoying days at the beach.  When I first started teaching in a public school, I discovered that teachers are just as excited as their students to have a break from the routine of lesson plans, grading and meetings.  Then… I had kids.

When my girls were young, summer was a challenging time of finding fun things for them to do all day. “I’m bored!” was a daily complaint, and I felt it was my job to occupy their time with activities and projects. Unlike my mom, who sent me outdoors in the morning to find my own adventures, parents today don’t always have that luxury. My mom didn’t have the same very real safety concerns that parents have today. Parents must look for other ways to fill the time.

Thankfully, there are lots of options. Summer is a great time for exploring the world of creativity. Without the pressure of homework and schedules, there is time to be creative or to take a deeper dive into something you already love. When my girls were young and told me they were bored, I was ready with art supplies to make cards for grandma, dress-up clothes to encourage acting out a story, bins and boxes to build a castle, or items from the kitchen to use to create percussion accompaniment for their favorite music. The beauty of a creative project is that there are endless possibilities. When they say, “I’m done,” there is always a way to extend the project or find ways for them to share it with others. These activities have the added bonus of true ownership for the children, and result in a sense of pride and accomplishment in creating something unique and special.

As my girls grew older, I explored arts programs at South Shore Conservatory (SSC), where they could expand their creativity and make friends with others who enjoyed singing, dancing, music, and drama as much as they did.  Maria spent many summers playing French horn with SSC’s Summer Music Festival, while Rosa participated in Let’s Put on a Show.  Although she aged out of the program years ago, she loved it so much that she returns every year as an assistant. In addition to developing their artistic, critical thinking and problem solving skills, both girls made long lasting friendships.  AND… they had a lot of fun. 

At SSC, our programs are designed to foster a sense of creativity in students, and provide opportunities for kids to actively participate in the creative process.  Whether it’s improvising music in a private lesson or jazz ensemble, creating choreography in ballet, or composing a tune at any number of our music camps, SSC students learn by doing and creating, and enjoy every minute of it!

Learn more about South Shore Conservatory’s summer programs at, call 781-749-7565 x10, or find South Shore Conservatory on Facebook.

Su D’Ambrosio is Director of Education at South Shore Conservatory.  She lives in Plymouth with her daughters Maria and Rosa, and her dog Bernie, who spends the summer finding creative ways to display all of his chew toys outside on the deck.