Chasing away the winter blues in January

South Shore Conservency Gala, January 28, 2017.By Liz Graham
About 18 months ago, I decided to return to work after taking almost five years off to be home with my two little girls. My family was living in Boston at the time, and in the middle of building a home in Hingham. I often think that I must have been a little insane to take on a new job, look for a rental home, and enter the final stages of the building process! However, when I began my work with South Shore Conservatory (SSC), I knew it was the exact right time for me, and for them.

My main focus at SSC, is to organize our annual gala, Chase Away the Winter Blues. The Blues is our largest fundraiser of the year, with proceeds benefitting Community Partnerships, Creative Arts Therapy and our tuition assistance program. Before I started working at SSC, this beloved event had always been a huge success.  But by 2017, it was due for a change.

My challenge was to move the venue from our Hingham campus, where the event was bursting at the seams, to a larger space, giving us the opportunity to tell our story, and ultimately raise more funds than ever before. Luckily, I had an incredibly engaged committee that worked enthusiastically and energetically to make the evening special, as well as helpful SSC colleagues, both providing guidance and support throughout the entire planning process. The event, held at the River Club in Scituate last year, was a magical evening of show-stopping performances, an exciting live auction and touching stories about the impact SSC has on our students’ lives.  It was a fun, thrilling evening, and I, for one, can’t wait to do it again this year!

This year’s Chase Away the Winter Blues, co-chaired by Linda Jones and Christine Puzo, takes place Saturday, January 27 at the Boston Marriott Quincy. The venue is beautiful and large enough to accommodate the large crowd the event draws.  The evening starts with a conversational cocktail hour, followed by dinner and a short presentation.  SSC’s talented faculty will be performing in various performances throughout the evening, and we are thrilled to introduce an After Party this year, for those who may wish to come for an evening of dancing after their children are tucked into bed.  With this new event, we are hoping to engage even more people within our community. We look forward to dancing the night away to the sounds of East Coast Soul and celebrating the fabulous work of SSC.

Through fundraising efforts, SSC strives to reach more and more communities and people who may not, otherwise, have access to music education. The Blues gala not only helps us to do just that, but also helps us get the word out about the diverse populations we serve. It’s truly a memorable event.  I hope to see you there!

South Shore Conservatory’s Chase Away the Winter Blues gala is Saturday, January 27, 6 pm at Boston Marriot Quincy, 1000 Marriot Drive, Quincy.  To purchase tickets, become a sponsor, or for more information, visit or contact Liz Graham at or 781-749-7565 ext. 14.

Liz Graham of Hingham is South Shore Conservatory’s Special Events and Corporate Relations Liaison.


Playing The Nutcracker

Bob MarlattElizabeth England.jpg

By Elaine Sorrentino
Everyone loves The Nutcracker, with its magical world of dancing snowflakes, sugar plum fairies, unsurpassed costuming, and gorgeous music that circles through your memory for the entire holiday season.  This year, however, there’s another wonderful surprise for those who attend Boston Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker at the Opera House this holiday season.  You’ll see a couple of familiar faces in the orchestra pit!

South Shore Conservatory (SSC) instructor Robert Marlatt is principal horn for Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker, has played with the company since November 1996, and has performed more than 800 Nutcrackers over the course of his Boston Ballet time.  He will play 39 performances this season.  Also, SSC instructor Elizabeth England has been playing oboe for The Nutcracker since 2016.  She was awarded tenure in May of 2017, and will play 44 performances this season.

Both musicians shared that the process of auditioning for Boston Ballet was a bit intimidating, starting with auditioning anonymously from behind a screen for members of the orchestra and the music director!  They needed to play a prepared solo piece, customarily repertoire from the orchestral world, such as a Sibelius symphony, Beethoven works, or Stravinsky violin concerto, in addition to works created specifically for the ballet genre, such as Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, or Romeo and Juliet. Then they played some orchestral passages.  Neither Robert not Elizabeth needed to wait long after auditioning, as they were notified the same day of their being accepted into the next round of auditions, the semi-finals.  Again, they performed their solo plus a new set of orchestral passages from behind a curtain.  In the final round, however, they were also given instructions on how to play differently by the conductor, in order to demonstrate the musicianship of a candidate.  Clearly both of these accomplished musicians passed this test too, with flying colors, and the next thing they knew, they were Boston Ballet musicians.

Where so many ballet companies perform without a live orchestra, and others have drastically reduced the orchestration, Robert and Elizabeth realize how fortunate we are here in the Greater Boston area to have Boston Ballet in our backyard.  They feel that live music is an integral part of the whole Nutcracker experience.  “It makes a huge difference! It’s a collaboration and multi-discipline art form; if you take away an enormous component of that collaboration, I think that’s unfortunate,” says Elizabeth.

From the orchestra pit, the musicians cannot see the dancers, but during quiet spots in the music, they can hear the dancers’ toe shoes on the stage.  So, what’s makes playing for The Nutcracker special?  Robert says, “The smiles from the audience. Before every show and at intermission, the orchestra pit is surrounded by kids and parents, and we know that, for many, it is their first experience hearing a live symphony orchestra.”

Elizabeth is in agreement. “The audiences! It is so special to create this beautiful world for the audience. Hearing the children in the audience laughing and enjoying themselves is wonderful. Creating a space for everyone to enjoy themselves and be uplifted by this shared experience is a beautiful thing. People come down to the front of the house to look in the pit before the show, during intermission, and after the show. It’s a delight to speak with them, answer any questions they have, and share a smile.”

In Elizabeth’s teaching studio, her students are having fun playing Nutcracker music, but Robert’s students haven’t started yet.  “Maybe I’ll surprise them next week with the ‘Waltz of the Flowers!’” he quips.

To sign up for lessons with Robert or Elizabeth, or to learn more about South Shore Conservatory’s private lesson program, visit or call 781-749-7565 x10.


Holiday Favorites concert in Duxbury, December 12 at 11 am

If you happened to miss our Holiday Favorites concert on Sunday, don’t fret!  South Shore Conservatory’s Coffee Break Concert Series presents its own version of Holiday Favorites Tuesday, December 12 at 11 am, with charming husband and wife piano duo Mark Goodman and Jennifer Cope Goodman. They will present songs of the season, some of it on piano four hands, with discussion of the “ins and outs” of piano four hands playing.

This concert is sponsored by The Village at Duxbury and is free to the public.

Beyond the music

SSC Community Voices at Inly

By Dianne Morse
Three years ago I retired from the Marshfield public school system as a math coach at the middle school level. Throughout my teaching career, I was always partial to working with struggling learners and special needs students. Last December I saw a Facebook post about South Shore Conservatory’s SSC Community Voices program for developmentally-delayed adults. It intrigued me and I hoped I’d qualify. Little did I know at the time, but singing ability was not a prerequisite for this group! I contacted Creative Arts Therapy Director Eve Montague right away and offered to be a singing partner.

The first rehearsal I attended was held in January, 2017.  I loved the enthusiastic welcome that was given to each singer as they arrived. Directors Eve and Amanda handed out the ‘music’ which consisted only of large print lyrics. As they handed it out they asked each participant, “Are you reading tonight?” This touched me as so respectful of each person‘s ability and dignity as an adult with special needs. Some of the singers are unable to read, some are blind, some don’t sing at all, some don’t sing anything close to what everyone else is singing, some have perfect pitch, some know all the lyrics after only listening to a song once,  but all blend somehow in this wonderfully inclusive group.

From that first night I was sure I’d be returning weekly. On Monday nights I sing with the Snug Harbor Community Chorus at the Performing Arts Center in Duxbury. There I’m challenge to learn my part, breathe correctly, and to stay on key. I leave those Monday practices with my personal goals to practice the more difficult passages. In contrast, on Wednesday nights I leave Community Voices with a chuckle and a smiling heart.

When I arrive at CV rehearsal I always wonder where to sit.  Shall I sit beside Jennifer? She lifts my spirit- she freely shares her exuberance, pretends to read the words but really just watches my mouth, and eventually gets us both in trouble by chatting with me. She always exclaims, “This is my favorite!” with every song we sing. Shall I sit beside Patrick? He reaches out to touch my hand whenever he’s anxious. Liz always claps too loudly and Joe holds his notes long after Eve or Amanda has directed us to stop singing. All of my CV singing friends are interesting adults with special abilities.

Our spring concert was exciting! Not only was our Duxbury SSC Community Voices group singing at the Inly school in Scituate, but we combined with the Hingham SSC Community Voices group, and together numbered about 40 singers! After that concert a few of the people in the audience approached me and asked how I got involved. Since then a fellow teacher, Rena Lukoski of Hanover, has joined the group.

Our wonderful group of singers and new friends often see each other outside South Shore Conservatory on Wednesday nights. I’ve run into my singing buddies at the Wang Center, at Heritage Days in Scituate Harbor, in bowling alleys, craft shows, and in supermarkets. It’s fun to say hello and share smiles as we visit as friends. Joining Community Voices has been a unique way to experience the power and joy of music.

South Shore Conservatory’s SSC Community Voices in Duxbury and SSC Community Voices, Too! in Hingham present their holiday concerts on Wednesday, December 13,
7 pm.  These performances are joyful and free.  For more information, visit

Sharing the power of music

All Star Band

By Ed Sorrentino
I think back to the day of my first drum lesson, and what a very special time that was for me. My first drum set and the excitement of choosing a color. Then, being in the school band with my new friends. The warm stage lights in front of a huge audience with my family in the front row waiting for Mr. Rogers to signal the start of the song, and of course the white short-sleeved shirt and my father’s long tie I was wearing. These are my first memories of music in my life…how powerful this was.

Recently, Summer Music Festival (SMF), South Shore Conservatory’s instrumental music summer program for woodwind, brass and percussion students entering grade four through post high school, received an anonymous donation/scholarship specifically allocated for young students eligible for SMF’s All- Star Band program for musicians grades four through six. This ensemble provides support to beginning students through many different channels, including a team of first-rate educators, most who have come through the program sometime during the 40-plus year history of the SMF.

The five-day program includes special activities designed to introduce and strengthen music concepts as well as social skills and culminates with a final performance open to the public. Parents are encouraged to contact me at for more information on this scholarship opportunity.

The idea of giving young musicians the chance to experience the same exciting musical journey that I did at an early age, is inspirational.  I am grateful to the donors who have created this opportunity, and hope it will be used to open doors for students who could use a little tuition assistance.

Ed Sorrentino is Summer Music Festival Program Director.

Everyone’s Favorite Holiday Tunes

Sarah StuartBy Sarah Stuart
The darkness creeps into the day early in December, but as the holidays approach, windows begin to twinkle and holiday favorites float through the air.  Music always accompanies the holiday traditions I enjoy at this time of year.  Just a few notes of a familiar holiday carol bring back a flood of fond memories.  Growing up, our holiday traditions included the smell of pine trees, the taste of gingerbread, the sparkle of a tree aglow, and the songs of the season.

For me, the joy of the season is best expressed by sharing my harp music with others. Playing familiar chords of my favorite carols feels like coming home. This music takes me back to all the Christmases I have ever known, and all the memories of gathering with friends and family to share our music.  I remember my mother playing the piano and my father filling out the “Twelve Days of Christmas” with his rich voice. I remember our house ringing with music and laughter.

Perhaps it was those early musical experiences that initiated my love of chamber music. Chamber music is a collaboration in creativity. It is the coming together of different instruments, different people to create one united musical experience for the audience.  For me, it is also the perfect way to celebrate the holiday season.

I was delighted to be asked to perform in South Shore Conservatory’s Holiday Favorite concert along with other SSC faculty members.  Our program, selected from each of the performer’s nostalgic holiday favorites, includes a wonderful mix of both traditional and popular selections; there is sure to be a song for everyone!   This concert has always been an audience favorite.

At Holiday Favorites I will be performing two classical flute and harp duets with flautist, Donald Zook: Fauré’s “Sicilienne” from the opera Pelléas and Melisande and “Andante con Variazioni” by Rossini.  Although, these works were not composed specifically for Christmas, their simple beauty captures the magic of the season. I will also have the opportunity to accompany Allyson Lynch on the beloved carol, “O Holy Night.” Other selections that will surely get you into the holiday spirit include “Greensleeves,” “Home for the Holidays,” and a “Christmas Lullaby.”

I invite you to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season to enjoy the beautiful melodic sounds presented by SSC faculty musicians.  I’m sure this music will add a little magic to your season.

South Shore Conservatory’s Conservatory Concert Series presents Holiday Favorites on Sunday, December 10, 4 pm at Derby Academy, 56 Burditt Street in Hingham.  Admission to the concert is free. Following the performance, audience members are invited to join the performers to mingle and enjoy some holiday refreshments.

To learn more about South Shore Conservatory concerts and events, visit

Harp instructor Sarah Stuart has been with South Shore Conservatory since 2013.  She is a Cohasset resident.



SSC Youth Orchestra in concert on November 19

SSC Youth Orchestra spring 2017

Join SSC Youth Orchestra as they present their fall concert on Sunday, November 19,
2 pm at Hingham Middle School, 1103 Main Street in Hingham. This concert includes works by Mozart, Schubert, Wagner, Musella, and Bizet.
SSC Youth Orchestra, run in collaboration with the Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra (the Phil) and Artistic Advisor Steven Karidoyanes, offers two leveled orchestras, and is open to students from communities throughout the South Shore and Cape Cod.

These two ensembles offer dedicated and talented young musicians the opportunity to perform symphonic music at a high level in an organized, supportive orchestra program. Both orchestras will perform in this concert – Repertory, an intermediate full orchestra, conducted by Elijah Langille; as well as Symphony, an advanced orchestra, conducted by Phaedre Sassano.

Admission to the concert is free for students K-12.  Adult tickets are $10, and may be purchased at the door.  Additional support for this program is provided in part by grants from the Marshfield Cultural Council and the Scituate Cultural Council.

More at


SSC offers Music Together in Norwell

Another Music Together

After waiting for over one year, we are delighted to have been awarded the license to offer our popular Music Together® program in Norwell, beginning November 27!

This beloved program encourages families to be musical, serving babies, toddlers and preschool children, between the ages of zero to four, accompanied by a caregiver.  The joyful environment not only provides the gift of music, but also creates connections that can last a lifetime.

“We are very excited to be able to offer this program in Norwell,” said SSC’s Music Together Director Jana Kahn.  “For several years we have been wanting to provide quality music programming for families with young children in Norwell and other neighboring towns, where travel to our already existing locations in Hingham, Cohasset and Duxbury may feel too far to travel with little ones.”

Excited about the new location, Music Together parent Tracy Durso says, “I’ve taken Music Together classes with all three of my children over the last eight years, and every week I still look forward to going to these classes with my youngest.  The time we spend singing, dancing, playing and bonding has been such a special part of her childhood for both of us. What we’ve learned in class carries over into our daily lives as we still use the diverse music and songs for playtime, nap time, car rides and more.”

SSC’s Norwell site for Music Together is located in the United Methodist Church at 11 Church Street. The Conservatory chose this space because, in addition to being sunny and spacious, and it also has a beautiful playground on the grounds for families to enjoy before or after class.  Classes will be offered on Wednesdays and Thursdays initially, at 9:30 am and 10:30 am.

Registration is available at, or contact Meredith Gosselin at 781-749-7565, x12.

Celebrating the musical genius of Beethoven


By Mark Goodman

The music of Beethoven exercises an equal hold over audiences and performers alike.

Audiences love the drama and epic scale. The opening notes of his Fifth Symphony may be the most famous and recognizable four notes in history. Performers love the depth of emotion and technical challenge. I still remember crying, as a young piano student, when my teacher told me I wasn’t ready to play the Pathetique Sonata. (I eventually prevailed, but can’t vouch for my performance!) And as human beings, we are drawn to Beethoven’s spiritual journey and triumph over the hardship of deafness to go on to compose his greatest music.

Although Beethoven is arguably the most well-known and popular of all composers, he is not easy to describe or categorize. His life spanned the end of one stylistic period and the dawn of another, and his music evolved constantly to reflect this. As a student he studied with Haydn and Czerny at the culmination of the Classical period, and he lived to see the younger generation of composers, such as Schubert and Weber, usher in the early Romantic style. His creativity was so tremendous that, like Picasso, he continually reinvented himself, and his early works bear no resemblance to his late ones.

Next month, in honor of Beethoven’s upcoming birthday, we at South Shore Conservatory are presenting The Music of Beethoven.  Our concert presents three works written six years apart, each of which has its own unique identity – two trios, with a piano sonata sandwiched in between.

The Clarinet Trio, Opus 11, is a spirited example of Beethoven’s early style. This piece is sometimes called the “Gassenhauer” or “streetsong” trio, because its last movement is based on a theme from an opera of the time that was so popular it could literally be heard whistled in the streets of Vienna. The work is sunny throughout, with nary a dark cloud passing through. The unusual scoring of clarinet, cello, and piano is unique in Beethoven’s work, promoting the popularity of the clarinet at the time, and highlighting young Beethoven’s athletic prowess as a pianist.   Our faculty clarinetist is Peter Bianca, whose beautiful performance of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto at last summer’s Evening Under the Stars concert will be remembered by those fortunate enough to have heard it. The cello will be played by Jan Pfeiffer, a veteran of the Boston chamber music scene, and I will be the pianist.

Next we have the third and fourth movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata, Opus 31, No. 3, played by Paul Hoffman. With this piece we can already hear the beginnings of the Romantic style starting to appear. The third movement is a minuet, showing Beethoven at his most gracious and elegant. Following that is rollicking tarantella, whose non-stop triplets and headlong pace have earned this piece the nickname “The Hunt.” The boisterous energy of this movement certainly goes beyond anything Haydn ever imagined.

Our final piece is the well-known Ghost Trio for violin, cello, and piano. This piece is a study in contrasts, with the two steely-bright outer movements flanking the dark night of the slow movement. It is this movement that gives the work its nickname with its hushed glacial opening, its ominous low rumblings, and its terrifying climactic moments. The “Ghost” will be performed by our respective chairs of the string and piano departments, Amanda Roberts and Jon Roberts, and faculty cellist Sassan Haghighi

Last but not least, with Beethoven’s birthday around the corner on December 16, we will end with a special birthday surprise. (You’ll just have to wait!)

The Music of Beethoven will be performed first on November 12 at our Duxbury campus, and again November 19 at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham.  Both concerts are at 4 pm and are free and open to the public. I hope you can come to experience this music which we love so much and are excited to share with you!

Pianist Mark Goodman is a Hingham resident. 

Take a musical coffee break on October 31

Robert Bekkers

If you’re looking for a fun, entertaining way to break up your humdrum Tuesday, come and join us on Tuesday, October 31, 11 am at the Ellison Center for the Arts in Duxbury at for our first Coffee Break Concert Series (CBCS) performance, Wind and Wood: American Songs featuring the talents of SSC faculty members Robert Bekkers on guitar and Donald Zook on flute.  The program highlights American songs, including music from Appalachia and some dance music.

Sponsored by The Village at Duxbury, all CBCS performances are free and open to the public.  Audience members are encouraged to come early to secure a seat, and enjoy a short pre-concert talk about the music they will be hearing.

For more information contact Anne Smith at 781-452-7455, x210 or