By Elaine Sorrentino
Many years ago, when I first heard Summer Music Festival ensembles warming up and playing through their music for the first time, I couldn’t believe I was listening to student musicians. The Jane Carr Amphitheater was yet to be built, so their sound infused our building with a musical fullness you would only associate with a professional orchestra. I could only imagine what it would be like to be a part of something that sounded so majestic. Years later, I am still in awe of those first notes played during the two-week camp, and the excellence of their final performances.
Summer Music Festival (SMF) is one of South Shore Conservatory’s longest standing programs. It offers woodwind, brass and percussion students, in middle school through college, the opportunity to spread their wings and hone their music skills by performing in high-level wind and percussion, chamber and jazz ensembles. Music educators from all over the state send their most dedicated students to be a part of SMF. This year we have students participating from many South Shore communities, as well as from as far as Bellingham, Needham Heights, Wellesley Hills, Foxboro, Mansfield and North Attleboro.
What I find fascinating about these students is their willingness to give up precious hours of sleep to be here on campus, ready to play, by 8 am. In my book, that’s dedication! And, they’re not here because they need five credits for school, or because they need to fill their sixth period block. They’re here because of their commitment to their craft and their desire to be the best musician they can be. Of course, many are also here for the friendships formed and bonds shared through their mutual love of music.
This year’s performances are coming up this week. On Thursday, July 20 at 12 noon, the amphitheater will be graced with the sounds of chamber music. This program is coordinated by Janet Underhill, who has managed and developed the chamber music program for Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra for ten years. I look forward to hearing a variety of pieces and styles.
SMF’s two jazz ensembles, directed by Bobby Glynn and Aaron Bush, present their final performance Thursday, July 20 at 7 pm. The Afternoon Chamber ensembles, directed by Janet and Lidia Chang, and comprised of mostly advanced student musicians, open the program for them. These groups always wow the audience with their confidence, skill and ability to improvise their music. As for me, I’m more of a ‘rehearse-it-until-you-can-do-it-in-your-sleep’ kind of musician. I leave nothing to chance, but not these students!
Friday, July 21 at 11:30 am in Cox Hall, All-Star Band, under the direction of Susan May-Goodwin, take the stage for a short “informance.” These are SMF’s youngest students, most of them in elementary school.
Summer Music Festival’s two wind ensembles, Festival Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Eric Laprade, and Summer Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Bobby Glynn, take the stage on Friday, July 21, 7 pm. Final performance night is always magical, and the music is indescribably moving and extremely well-prepared. Close your eyes and listen, and you’ll imagine you’re hearing professional performers playing. Open them, and you’ll see young musicians focused intently on their music, working together to create something really amazing.
The Jane Carr Amphitheater is located on the grounds of SSC’s Hingham campus, at One Conservatory Drive. Parking is onsite and admission is free for all student concerts. To learn more about South Shore Conservatory programs and events, visit www.sscmusic.org.