South Shore Art Center on our walls

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By Elaine Sorrentino
I will never forget walking through South Shore Conservatory (SSC) the day South Shore Art Center’s fiber artist exhibit opened in 2006. It was magical! Spanning the wall that spans two floors, was the most beautiful, intricately handstitched quilt I have ever seen.  Virginia Holloway was its creator. As I moved in to get a closer look, I realized that some of the squares in the pattern were as tiny as one half inch wide.  My open-mouth stare said it all – I was a fan!

South Shore Art Center (SSAC) artists’ work has hung in our art galleries for years.  With our 2004 renovation, we are able to provide more expansive exhibition space for these gifted visual artists.  In our new space – South Shore Music Circus Gallery on the first floor, and Robert & Dorothy Palmer Gallery on the second floor – we have had the pleasure of displaying (for sale) everything from Marshfield photographer Mike Sleeper and his stunning landscapes, to botanical artists Kay Kopper, Julie Sims Messenger, Sarah Roche and Ruth Ann Wetherby Frattasio, to the passionate artwork of husband/wife artists Liz Haywood-Sullivan and J. Michael Sullivan.  We are grateful that this partnership both allows us to enjoy stunning local art, and providing SSAC artists with exposure to new potential buyers.

I recently had a lively conversation with South Shore Art Center Executive Director Patrice Maye, who is also the parent of a South Shore Conservatory percussion student.  A founding member of the Scituate Harbor Cultural Council, Patrice is always delighted to see collaboration between the arts.  She said that her gallery artists, who are juried in, are always seeking ways to connect with new audiences, which is something the Conservatory galleries provide for them.  All SSAC members have the opportunity to exhibit at two member shows per year, but it’s only the 180 gallery artists who are invited to show their work at satellite locations such as SSC and the Paul Pratt Library in Cohasset.

In conceptualizing SSC shows, which change every three or four months, Patrice sometimes puts together a theme, then sends an “all call” to her artists.  For example, past themes or titles have included Parsing Imagination, where the artist took you on a mind journey with abstract pieces.  Sometimes three or four artists will present a show with a common focus, such as the botanical artists. Other times shows have been seasonal, or all watercolors, all oils, or all photography.  Patrice is looking in a new direction for upcoming shows, thinking that perhaps a concept-themed exhibition might be exciting.

One of the pieces that received the most buzz in recent years, was a piece called Disco Deer by Stephen (Stucky) Jiranek.  As people headed up the stairs to the Palmer gallery, they were greeted by this fabulous deer head, made up of mirrored tiles.  Disco Deer had parents and students chuckling to themselves on their way to lessons on the second floor.  We enjoyed it so much we asked and were given permission to keep it on our walls beyond the duration of the show.  We were sad to see it mosey on to its next home.

I invite you to stop by and check out these South Shore Art Center artists.  I guarantee you’ll be impressed. During the school year, South Shore Conservatory’s Robert & Dorothy Palmer Gallery and South Shore Music Circus Gallery are open Monday through Friday, 9 am to 6 pm, Saturday, 9 am to 2 pm, and during scheduled concerts. There is no admission charge.  South Shore Conservatory is located at One Conservatory Drive, Hingham.

To learn more about SSC’s art galleries, visit sscmusic.org or “like” South Shore Conservatory on Facebook.

Elaine Sorrentino is South Shore Conservatory’s Communications Director.

Lots of familiar faces at Radio Days Classics

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By Elaine Sorrentino 

Last fall, when our Jazz/Rock/Pop (JRP) department presented its first JRP Series concert of the season, they decided that a “little big band” concert, featuring popular tunes from the 30s and 40s, might be a fun way to showcase a little variety.  People loved it! The concert was a huge hit, and the audience left begging for more.

The good news is, there IS more!  On Saturday, July 27, South Shore Conservatory’s Evenings Under the Stars concert series presents Radio Days Classic:  Music of the Big Band Era! in the Carr Amphitheater.  Although the musicians are presenting big band music, their ensemble is actually a much smaller version of those traditional big bands, which could have upwards toward 20 plus musicians.  The composition was often six saxophones, four trombones, four trumpets, guitar, bass, piano, drums, plus male and female vocalists.  This smaller “little big band” formation is comprised of ten or fewer musicians playing music designed to create a bigger sound.  It’s really quite something to hear.

In addition to hearing familiar Ellington and Basie tunes, I’m very excited about welcoming back the musicians, who are excited about capturing the essence of the big band era and sharing it with the audience.  Many of them are former Summer Music Festival (SMF) faculty and alumni, and some of them are local educators.  How much fun will it be for their students to see their jazz ensemble conductor performing in a jazz ensemble?

Here’s who’s playing: on sax we’ve got former SMF faculty member Kenny Reid, and SSC JRP faculty members John Vanderpool and Nick Biagini (also former SMF alum); Hanover High School music educator Matt Harden, and Rockland High School music educator John Piazza on trumpet; on trombone we’ve got Foxboro High School adjunct faculty member and former SMF student John Mitchell; SSC’s Jeff Williams on piano; we’ve got SSC’s Carlos Sulbarán on bass; SSC faculty member, former SMF student and adjunct Berklee College of Music faculty member Kevin Scollins on guitar; and SSC/SMF faculty members Willis Edmundson and Ed Sorrentino on percussion/drums.  SSC’s voice department chair Emily Browder Melville will do vocals.

Matt Harden, who also performed in the fall big band concert, recently said he’s excited for the opportunity to be “on the other side” of a jazz ensemble, and to perform again with great musicians. Matt feels there’s nothing like communicating and expressing yourself through the language of jazz.  It informs his teaching and inspires him to be a better musician.

For Nick Biagini, one of our newer faculty members, he’s excited to collaborate with musicians who mentored him way back when he was a student at Summer Music Festival, and the peers he grew up with at SSC. He still looks up to these musicians, and is honored to play this music with them. He has so many defining memories of the Jane Carr Amphitheater – the place where he fell in love with music – that he welcomes the experience of playing on the stage where he began his musical journey over a decade ago.

Hingham native Willis Edmundson is excited for the opportunity to return to all the music he has known since high school, when he initially got interested in jazz. Although he listens to these songs often, he rarely has an opportunity to perform them, especially in a (small) big band setting. Willis feels it will be an exercise in creativity to bring these songs to life, and is truly looking forward to it.

Join us as South Shore Conservatory’s Evenings Under the Stars concert series presents Radio Days Classic:  Music of the Big Band Era! on Saturday, July 27, 7 pm in the Jane Carr Amphitheater, One Conservatory Drive, Hingham.  Tickets at sscmusic.org/eus/.

Elaine Sorrentino is South Shore Conservatory’s Communications Director.

Karen K & the Jitterbugs rocked the stage this morning!

We had a great time hosting Karen K & the Jitterbugs this morning at our second of four Wacky Wednesdays summer concerts. There were bubbles, beach balls, and a kiddie mosh pit (pictured below)! Kids loved dancing and singing along to tunes including “Pancakes for Dinner” and “I Wanna Be a Jitterbug”! We hope you can join us for our next Wacky Wednesdays family concert on Wednesday, July 24, from 10-11 am in the Jane Carr Amphitheater at our Hingham campus!

Get ready for Duxbury Music Festival!

64935984_2418444704844053_4024654136132763648_o.jpgIn less than one week, chamber music artists from all over the world arrive for this year’s Duxbury Music Festival! We are so excited about the variety of different concerts we’ll be hosting. You can enjoy a tent event on the Duxbury Town Green at our Americana on Green and the 80s on the Green concerts. Or, if your taste is a bit more soothing, come and see the very talented DMF students and staff in a chamber concert of your choice. Come see one, or come see many of DMF’s concerts. Check out the full schedule at https://sscmusic.org/dmf-events-tickets/.

Learning is fun at Wacky Wednesdays family concerts

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By Rachel White and Beth MacLeod Largent
Our Wacky Wednesdays family concerts bring New England’s best kid-friendly performers to South Shore Conservatory’s Jane Carr Amphitheater in Hingham every summer. We love sitting back watching families enjoy the dynamic, fun-filled performances, which we feel are perfect for the whole family.

These family concerts are special to us because of the unique fusion of educational enrichment and recreational activity they offer. SSC Preschool and Kindergarten Director Rachel White and SSC Director of Performance Beth MacLeod Largent share their observances of kids’ and parents’ takeaways from these concerts.

Rachel: Wacky Wednesdays concerts help build community and enrich the lives of our children. The wonderment of live performance, in a world where children spend so much time behind screens and tablets, is something that is inimitable. Taking in a live performance is an experience that connects a child to the world around them. The sights of bright colors and happy faces. The smell of sweet summer air wafting through the amphitheater. The sound of music and laughter. The feeling of dancing freely in the aisles or on the lawn, and making friends in your community. Sharing a picnic lunch on the lawn with your family…and sometimes even with your preschool friends!

Beth: Attending the concerts is a great way for you and your child to bond. Or how about bonding with grandma and/or grandpa? Some years I’ve seen many grandparents come bring their grandchildren to all four performances, giving mom a morning off, or time at home to bond with a newborn. We have a playground onsite, so it’s easy to make a morning of it. These fun performances are enjoyed by adults too! Some concertgoers come just to relish the joyful response of the children.

Rachel: I also love that at Wacky Wednesdays concerts, kids can move freely, be loud, and experience the performance with their whole body and all their senses. There is a certain sparkle in their eyes, which are usually fixated on the performer. They clap, dance, and cheer with excitement.

Beth: Our amphitheater really augments the interactive nature of these performances. With over 200 covered seats, we perform rain or shine; and the large lawn means that kids have plenty of room to move around! Infants in strollers happily snooze under the shade trees, leaving older siblings to explore and make friends. Every year there is a bubble parade where hoards of kids follow our volunteers around as they wave the bubble wand – nothing says summer like bubbles! After the concerts, most of our performers stay to sign autographs and wave goodbye to the families. I can tell they enjoy the children and love what they do!

Wacky Wednesdays family concerts, sponsored by The Harold and Avis Goldstein Trust, are at South Shore Conservatory, One Conservatory Drive, Hingham.  These educational and entertaining concerts, are Wednesday mornings, at 10 am, from July 10 through July 31, and include performances by Vanessa Trien and the Jumping Monkeys, Karen K. & the Jitterbugs, SSC ImagineARTS Band, and Matt Heaton and the Outside Toys.  More details at sscmusic.org/wacky/, or find South Shore Conservatory on Facebook.