SOUTH OF BOSTON
South Shore Conservatory continues to transform music
By Robert Knox Globe Correspondent, January 13, 2023
Sally McCune has been chosen to be the composer in residence at the South Shore Conservatory of Music this summer. SOUTH SHORE CONSERVATORY
Commenting on the appointment of a new composer in residence for its South Shore Conservatory Transform program, Robert Cinnante, the school’s president, said he sees music education as a practical vehicle to promote social progress.
The Transform program, Cinnante said, brings “social justice to the forefront, using a new music work that explores social justice as a vehicle of how music improves the community.”
The Hingham-based music school recently announced the appointment of Ithaca College professor Sally Lamb McCune as the composer in residence for this year’s Transform program. Launched in 2020, the program invites an active composer to the conservatory campus to work with students on rehearsing and publicly performing newly commissioned music during its summer music festival.
Crediting Eric Laprade, the summer festival director, with originating the program along with conservatory faculty member Lidia Chang, Cinnante said students learn through a program that includes spending time in residence on the South Shore campus in tandem with the composer’s residency.
Cinnante said music has always been an avenue for social progress. “It’s so important that we teach children about the composers who lived before us,” he said. Beethoven, whose music celebrated the progressive political and social ideals of the Age of Enlightenment (1685-1815), is a prominent example.
“Music is ahead of its time,” Cinnante said. “It represents progress in society. Artist citizenship is not just teaching students to play music, but to take it to another level and be good artist citizens.
“But it’s really special when they meet a composer who is living and creating in the times we live in and in response to the times we live in.
“Any good composer is writing in consideration of the world we live in,” he added. He said Transform director Laprade is also “passionate about music and social justice.”
In addition to serving as the conservatory’s Summer Music Festival managing director, Laprade is also “a South Shore Conservatory success story,” Cinnante said. “He came here as a student and has risen to the role of teacher and program director.”
Laprade said McCune is a composer whose “passion for using music to raise awareness around important issues fits our program so well.” Having conducted a number of her works at the collegiate level, he said, “I’m excited to bring her compositional voice to high school-level ensembles.”
McCune, who has performed the guest composer role at other festivals, is currently working on the piece for the school’s upcoming summer festival. “Once it’s created,” Laprade said, “she will come to the conservatory and spend time in residence with us.”
The summer festival community, both faculty and students, will have direct exposure to McCune. One of the Transform program goals is “to actually have the composer spend time with the students” and work with the students performing the piece, Laprade said.
Summing up Transform’s goals, Laprade said, “We believe now, more than ever, the arts are central to developing the next generation of empathetic, articulate, and reflective artist-citizens.”
In 2021, Transform’s first composer-in-residence, Nkeiru Okoye, dedicated her piece as a tribute to Dr. Paula Johnson, a cardiologist and genetic researcher who in 2016 became the first Black woman to serve as president of Wellesley College.
Laprade said he believes that music education programs such as the conservatory’s summer residency nurture growth in skills beyond music.
“At the core of any musical experience is the fundamental element of collaboration,” he said. “Through ensemble music-making” and music education, he said, “students develop an ability to listen deeply to others and empathize, communicate verbally and non-verbally, work collaboratively toward shared goals, and regularly leverage the creative process.”
A broadened social perspective is also a benefit, Laprade said. “Part of studying a piece of music might be understanding the lived experiences of the composer and the context for which a piece was composed,” he said. “While this work ultimately serves to enhance the accuracy and authenticity of the music being performed, it also can broaden students’ perspective as artistic citizens.”
South Shore Conservatory’s Summer Music Festival brings together student musicians in what the school describes as “an intense, supportive, collaborative, and music- focused learning environment” that includes one-on-one interactions with educators. Laprade said the festival serves more than 100 students for grades 4 through college from approximately 30 communities across Southeastern Massachusetts.
Tuition ranges from $175 for membership in the Festival Orchestra to $685 for participation in the Summer Wind Ensemble, with tuition assistance available. Registration information is available at summer.sscmusic.org/smf.
Robert Knox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Show comments
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©2023 Boston Globe Media Partners, LLC