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Indian Hill Music announces plans for new music education and performance center

UPDATE – NOVEMBER 13, 2017

Education and Performance to Share Center Stage at the New Music Center at Indian Hill

State-of-the-art building with Music School, 1,000-seat Concert Hall, and 300-seat Recital Hall will enable more education and performance opportunities for students, provide a permanent home for the Orchestra of Indian Hill and Indian Hill Music’s professional concert series, and enhance the cultural offerings of the region

Opening slated for organization’s 35th anniversary in 2020

In a few short years, students and music lovers will have a new, inviting space to learn, practice, perform, socialize  and attend Indian Hill Music’s popular concert and recital series. (Rendering by Epstein Joslin Architects ©2016)

In a few short years, students and music lovers will have a new, inviting space to learn, practice, perform, socialize, and attend Indian Hill Music’s popular concert and recital series.
(Rendering by Epstein Joslin Architects ©2016)

Groton, MA – Susan Randazzo, Executive Director of Indian Hill Music, announced this morning that construction is underway for Indian Hill Music’s new home to be located on Old Ayer Road in Groton, MA, overlooking the non-profit organization’s landmark namesake, Indian Hill. The new center will be the permanent home of Indian Hill Music, one of only a small group of non-profit organizations nationwide that encompass a community music school, professional orchestra, professional concert series, and community outreach programs. Indian Hill Music’s future home — a natural evolution in the growth of the organization — will be a world-class education and performance center with a concert experience second to none, as well as educational and outreach programs designed to make music accessible to all.

The 70-member professional Orchestra of Indian Hill, under the direction of Artistic Director and Conductor Bruce Hangen, will have as its home a stunning 1,000 seat concert hall with adjustable acoustics and a flexible stage, which opens to lawn seating for an additional 1,300 audience members. “The new concert hall represents an incredible opening to a whole new world of programming for the Orchestra,” said Maestro Hangen, “including guest artists of both classical and pops persuasions, repertoire with variable formats, and more space for our audience to enjoy a truly symphonic experience. It will be an extraordinary addition to Massachusetts’ cultural scene.”

Indian Hill Music School has filled the area’s need for quality music education for over 30 years, providing instruction in 30+ instruments and voice to over 1,300 students of all ages, abilities and musical interests. Indian Hill Music’s new home will bring much needed acoustically isolated rehearsal spaces and teaching studios as well as a 300-seat recital hall.

Indian Hill Music is also renowned for forging collaborative partnerships throughout the region, including successful relationships with public schools to build their instrumental music programs.

“This project fulfills a long-held dream to bring together all of Indian Hill Music’s programs under one roof and to fully integrate Indian Hill Music’s mission of teaching, performing, and giving music generously,” stated Ms. Randazzo. “The new Music Center at Indian Hill will be a place where we intentionally and wholeheartedly bring people together to share the joy of music in an uplifting and inspiring natural setting.”

Concert-goers can look forward to hearing live, professional performances by prominent guest artists in diverse musical genres. Comfortable and open gathering spaces, both inside and outside the new building, are designed to enhance the educational and social connections among Music School students, families, faculty, audiences, and musicians. A café and dining room, along with adequate parking, hidden from street view, have also been incorporated onsite.

Indian Hill Music’s new center will include a 1,000-seat adjustable stage concert hall that includes the ability to open  the rear of the hall to the outside lawn, doubling audience size. (Rendering by Epstein Joslin Architects ©2017)

Indian Hill Music’s new center will include a 1,000-seat adjustable stage concert hall that includes the ability to open the rear of the hall to the outside lawn, doubling audience size. (Rendering by Epstein Joslin Architects ©2017)

The new center is designed by Cambridge-based Epstein Joslin Architects, who lead a world-renowned team of experts in 23 disciplines. Epstein Joslin (who also designed the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport, MA), have designed a landmark center for Indian Hill Music that will evoke the feeling of a light-filled music and nature retreat. The design connects the building to the natural beauty of the Groton landscape, and takes advantage of the inspiring vistas in the 110-acre site, which includes 70 acres of agricultural land. Included in the center’s two-story design are materials native to the agrarian landscape, including wood, stone, and metal. The project’s sound quality is overseen by the team’s pioneering acousticians Carl Giegold of Threshold Acoustics with Lawrence Kirkegaard of LKAcoustics, both of whom have a long history with Epstein Joslin that includes Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood and the Music Center at Strathmore, second home of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Indian Hill ENSEMBLE ROOM credited

New spacious, acoustically treated classrooms with natural light to enhance the learning experience. (Renderings by Epstein Joslin Architects ©2016)

New spacious, acoustically treated classrooms with natural light to enhance the learning experience.
(Renderings by Epstein Joslin Architects ©2016)

A large multi-purpose rehearsal space for the Orchestra of Indian Hill will also accommodate Youth Orchestras, Big Band,  and other large ensembles as well as community concerts, pre-concert talks, and special events.(Rendering by Epstein Joslin Architects ©2017)

A large multi-purpose rehearsal space for the Orchestra of Indian Hill will also accommodate Youth Orchestras, Big Band,and other large ensembles as well as community concerts, pre-concert talks, and special events.
(Rendering by Epstein Joslin Architects ©2017)

Lisa Fiorentino, Indian Hill Music’s Chief Operating Officer, commented, “As a gathering place for community members and musicians alike, the new Music Center at Indian Hill will be like nothing else in the region. With a diverse range of year-round performance offerings in numerous genres, a gorgeous setting, beautifully designed and acoustically sound performance spaces, and an easily accessible location, not only will our new home have broad community appeal, but it is sure to become a destination for music lovers across the region.”

Open gathering spaces throughout the Center will create a sense of community. (Rendering by Epstein Joslin Architects ©2016)

Open gathering spaces throughout the Center will create a sense of community.
(Rendering by Epstein Joslin Architects ©2016)

Indian Hill Music
Founded in 1985, Indian Hill Music is a thriving non-profit regional center for music education and performance located in picturesque Central Massachusetts and serving 79 communities. Through the integration of the music school, the professional performance series, and a commitment to giving music to the community, Indian Hill Music fulfills its mission to share the transformative power of music through teaching and performing, and giving music generously when there is need.

Indian Hill Music offers private and group instruction in classical, contemporary, jazz, rock, pop, folk, Irish traditional, Broadway, opera, and early music, along with an extensive array of workshops and lectures, masterclasses with guest artists, and summer programs. Student performing ensembles include the Indian Hill Music Youth Orchestra, the New England Flute Orchestra of Indian Hill, and the Indian Hill Big Band, which provide students with high-quality training and opportunities to collaborate and share music in the community.

Indian Hill Music’s professional performance season is anchored by concerts of the 70-member Orchestra of Indian Hill, the region’s premier professional symphony orchestra, led by Artistic Director and Conductor, Bruce Hangen. Indian Hill Music also presents live performances by music school faculty, Orchestra of Indian Hill musicians, and other acclaimed guest artists in our Chamber Music Series, Jazz and Contemporary Series, and the acclaimed Kalliroscope Gallery Chamber series.

Click here to read biographies of Indian Hill Music’s architectural and acoustic team members.

Click here to learn more about Indian Hill Music’s educational offerings, community outreach programs, and the organization’s history.

Click here to learn more about Indian Hill Music’s upcoming performances.

Indian Hill Music gratefully acknowledges the generous contributed revenue for this exciting new phase of the organization’s future, and the altruism of individuals, families, businesses, foundations, and government agencies that support our numerous programs. The programs of Indian Hill Music are also supported in part by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency, and with funds from the council administered by the Local Cultural Councils.

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NEWS-MARCH 6, 2017: Indian Hill Music announces plans for new music education and performance center

State-of-the-art building designed by an award-winning team led by Cambridge-based Epstein Joslin Architects, Chicago-based LKAcoustics Design and Threshold Acoustics

web-concept-render-mcih-building-credited

March 6, 2017 –Susan Randazzo, Executive Director of Indian Hill Music (IHM), today announced that plans for a new music education and performance center in the Town of Groton have been submitted to the Planning Board and shared with the public at an open meeting. Groton will be the new home of Central Massachusetts’s 31-year-old thriving regional center for music education and performance, which will be located at 122 Old Ayer Road.

Concept rendering, proposed site plan, The Music Center at Indian Hill

Concept rendering of proposed site plan, The Music Center at Indian Hill

Indian Hill Music has grown over the last three decades to serve 79 communities ranging from Boston in the east, Metrowest, the Nashoba Valley, Merrimack Valley, and as far north as Nashua and Hollis, New Hampshire.  IHM is one of only a small group of non-profit organizations nationwide that encompass a music school, professional orchestra, professional concert series and community outreach programs.

“This is an exciting time in the history of Indian Hill Music,” stated Ms. Randazzo, a founding member of IHM. “Adding to the specialness of the new location is that we will not only be returning to our first home, Groton, where both our school and the Orchestra of Indian Hill began, but the building will look upon Indian Hill, the beautiful landmark after which IHM was named.”

“We are pleased to have Gary Shepherd, Project Manager for Indian Hill Music, and Alan Joslin, Deborah Epstein, and Ray Porfilio of Cambridge-based Epstein Joslin Architects leading an innovative team that includes Chicago-based pioneering acousticians R. Lawrence (Larry) Kirkegaard of LKAcoustics Design Studio, and Carl P. Giegold of Threshold Acoustics; Theatre Consultant Robert Long of Theatre Consultants Collaborative in Chapel Hill, NC; Civil Engineers Lawrence (Larry) M. Beals and Todd Morey of Beals Associates, Inc. in Boston, and Landscape Architect Stephen Stimson of Stephen Stimson Associates in Cambridge. We could not ask for a better team.”

IHM’s new home will join a distinguished roster of national projects by some of the above named professionals, including Seiji Ozawa

Concept rendering of concert hall, The Music Center at Indian Hill

Concept rendering of concert hall, The Music Center at Indian Hill

Hall for the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood, Rockport’s Shalin Liu Performance Center, Williams College Theater and Dance Center in Williamstown, the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University in California, the Summer Performance Pavilions for Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and Carnegie Hall’s Isaac Stern Auditorium in New York, San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall, and Bethesda’s Strathmore Center.

Indian Hill Music has grown and prospered for the past 31 years in its present home in Littleton, MA next door to Groton. The designed new home will enable planned growth and further program excellence for years to come in an ideal setting overlooking its birthplace.

Lisa Fiorentino, IHM Chief Operating Officer, commented, “Indian Hill Music’s new home will include custom-built, state-of-the-art teaching studios and classrooms – 50% more than the current IHM facility offers, rehearsal spaces and two performance halls, comfortable community space for parents and students to gather between lessons and classes and before concerts, as well as administrative offices and on-site parking.”

Also joining Ms. Randazzo and Ms. Fiorentino in making the announcement were Carole Prest, Indian Hill Music Board Chair, and Bruce Hangen, Artistic Director and Conductor of the Orchestra of Indian Hill.

“As both an Indian Hill Music student and Board Member, I couldn’t be more excited. We are thrilled to have such an all-star team designing our new home,” said Ms. Prest. “The new building will allow for IHM’s continued growth.”

Concept rendering of recital hall, The Music Center at Indian Hill

Concept rendering of recital hall, The Music Center at Indian Hill

Mr. Hangen added, “I am incredibly excited to have a new artistic home for the Orchestra of Indian Hill that will serve our performance and educational needs for the next half-century and beyond. The design team is truly sensitive to the high quality and varied activity that Indian Hill Music represents, and I am happy and confident that a new cultural oasis is being created for the arts in our region.”

While the project is still in the approval phase, Groton Town Manager Mark Haddad has publicly given positive support for the move. In an article by the Lowell Sun dated April 2, 2016, that focused on IHM’s purchase of the Groton property, he was quoted as stating, “We’re very excited that an organization as well-run and well-organized as Indian Hill Music would make Groton their home base. It’s a positive step for making Groton a destination location.”

Ms. Fiorentino commented on the future move, saying, “We look forward to this new phase of the organization’s future, with a new, breathtaking state-of the-art building designed by today’s foremost award-winning architects and acousticians specifically to allow IHM to more fully pursue its mission.”

Indian Hill Music’s new home is expected to be completed and ready to open in 2020.

Indian Hill Music

Founded in 1985 to fulfill a need for quality music education, high caliber performances, and collaborative community partnerships for all ages, Indian Hill Music (IHM) is a thriving non-profit regional center for music education and performance located in picturesque Central Massachusetts and serving 79 communities.  IHM’s activities are motivated by the belief that music inspires both our hearts and our minds, encourages the growth and development of the “whole person,” and is integral to the lives of the individuals and communities we serve. At the core of IHM’s mission is a comprehensive and synergistic music education program, where studying music, attending performances and lectures, participating in workshops, and performing with others are key components. Through the integration of the music school and the professional performance series, and a commitment to giving music to the community, the transformative power of music is fully realized.

The music school offers lessons in 30+ instruments and voice for individuals of all ages, abilities, and musical interests, taught by a distinguished and experienced faculty of over 60 teaching artists with degrees from the world’s foremost conservatories. Private and group instruction in classical, contemporary, jazz, rock, pop, folk, Irish, Broadway, opera, and early music are offered. Performing ensembles include the Indian Hill Music Youth Orchestra and the New England Flute Orchestra of Indian Hill, which provide students with high-quality training and opportunities to collaborate and share music in the community. IHM also features an extensive array of workshops and lectures, Alexander Technique, masterclasses with guest artists, recitals in our beautiful hall, a variety of summer music programs, an annual Performathon, and honors piano and concerto competitions.

IHM’s professional performance season is anchored by concerts of the 70-member Orchestra of Indian Hill, the region’s premier professional symphony orchestra, led by Artistic Director and Conductor, Bruce Hangen. Indian Hill Music also presents live performances by music school faculty, Orchestra of Indian Hill musicians, and other acclaimed guest artists in the Faculty Showcase Recital Series, the Besas Memorial Concert Series, and the Kalliroscope Gallery Chamber Music Series.

Dedicated to enriching the communities it serves, Indian Hill Music has developed strong and flourishing relationships through a full complement of outreach programming, serving some 7,000 people annually. IHM provides $65,000 in scholarships annually to students on a need-basis, and $100,000 in outreach. In addition to its school music partnerships in the Ayer-Shirley Public Schools, Indian Hill Music presents the popular free Bach’s Lunch Concerts, a monthly series that regularly attracts hundreds of local seniors. IHM also offers a complimentary service providing compassion and comfort through the ancient tradition of singing at the bedsides of people who are ill or at the end of life via the Threshold Singers of Indian Hill Music.

Read biographies of IHM’s architectural and acoustic team members.

Learn more about Indian Hill Music’s educational offerings, performance schedule and community outreach programs.

All photos copyright Epstein Joslin Architects.

Indian Hill Music gratefully acknowledges the generous contributed revenue for this exciting new phase of the organization’s future, and the altruism of individuals, families, businesses, foundations, and government agencies that support our numerous programs. The programs of Indian Hill Music are also supported in part by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency, and with funds from the council administered by the Local Cultural Councils.

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Posted in Latest News, Music School, Orchestra

A Minute with Robyn Bollinger

OIH OCT_RobynBollingerCREDITKristin Hoebermann2Violinist Robyn Bollinger will be the featured soloist performing Szymanowski’s Violin Concerto with the Orchestra of Indian Hill on Saturday, November 4. Buy tickets.

A Philadelphia native, Ms. Bollinger made her orchestral debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the tender age of 12. She was awarded a 2016 Annenberg Grant for her multimedia performance project entitled CIACCONA: The Bass of Time, as well as an Entrepreneurial Musicianship Grant from her alma mater New England Conservatory for her ground-breaking Project Paganini, a performance project featuring all twenty-four Paganini Caprices. Ms. Bollinger has performed with the Boston Pops and at music festivals throughout the country. A member of the acclaimed, Grammy-nominated Boston-based ensemble A Far Cry, she is a sought after collaborator and popular figure in chamber music.

Along with her Orchestra of Indian Hill debut on November 4, Ms. Bollinger will conduct a masterclass for Indian Hill Music School students that morning at 10:30 am. The Masterclass is free and open for public observation.


This is your first time performing with the Orchestra of Indian Hill. What have you heard about Orchestra of Indian HIll/Maestro Hangen that makes you look forward to playing with the orchestra?

Whenever I tell people I’m playing with Orchestra of Indian Hill and Maestro Hangen, everyone’s eyes immediately light up and they start nodding very fast. That’s a good sign! The Orchestra is so respected in the Boston community, and I’m really excited to come play.

What excites you about the piece you are performing with Orchestra of Indian Hill, Szymanowski’s Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 35?

I really love this piece. It was new to me when Maestro Hangen reached out to me last year, and it has been so fun to learn. It is hard for the violin — but worth it! It is sensual but angular, open and singing but rhythmically complex. It is a wonderful combination of juxtapositions. When I’m describing it to friends, I usually call it a mash-up of Debussy and Prokofiev- it has the rich, luxurious, extended harmonies of Debussy with the backbone and wit of Prokofiev. This will be my first time with this particular work, and I’m super excited!

What is special about the work?

From a formal perspective, the piece is unusual for a few reasons. It’s all in one movement — not very commonly done. The cadenza, or the big violin solo, doesn’t happen till the very end of the piece, and it’s even at a bit of a climactic moment. It might look odd on paper to have the orchestra drop out so late in the game, but I find it very dramatic!

Taking a broader musical view, I find the piece to be remarkably sincere. Sometimes in concertos the listener might get the sense that the violinist is just showing off; but the way Szymanowski has written the piece, the difficulty is all essential to the musical expression. There is both struggle and defiance in some of the virtuosic writing in this piece, and also such sublime weightlessness. I find it to be a remarkable work.

Why is orchestral playing important for a violinist?

I think it’s really important to collaborate with others and work towards something bigger than oneself. That requires checking one’s ego at the door, which can be difficult sometimes! However, not being the center of attention doesn’t mean that one gets to slack off — if even one violinist doesn’t care or plays out of tune, the experience of the whole orchestra suffers. It’s a healthy reminder about teamwork.

Orchestra playing is also important for history. Most great composers’ greatest works were written for orchestra. There is nothing in the world like playing a Beethoven Symphony, or Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, or the Bach B Minor Mass. As a violinist, the best way to explore those important pillars of our history is to play them. It doesn’t get any better than that.

What is similar in terms of orchestra and chamber music?

Teamwork! And, in both disciplines, one has to listen extremely carefully and be ready to respond to any kind of cue, whether you’re in a string quartet or a full orchestra.

What can you say about the violin that you’ll be performing on?

I am very lucky to play on a brand new 2017 Sam Zygmuntowicz violin. I love it! Sam finished it in February, and it’s such an honor to be the first person to really get to play it. Violins are a bit like wine: they will change considerably as they age, and it’s quite a process to open them up to their fullest potential. It can take decades. But violins are also a bit like Harry Potter wands: the violin chooses the violinist, meaning the instrument has to be a good fit with the violinist’s style of playing. I am really excited to be opening the violin up and teaching it what I like; and it’s also teaching me how to do things more easily.

What happens in a masterclass, and why is it a valuable experience for student musicians?

In my masterclass, I will be working with a small group of students, coaching each student individually for about 20 or 30 minutes on a piece they are working on, offering my ideas, interpretations, or suggestions about how to approach the music.

A masterclass is great exposure for students — exposure to teachers and performers they might not otherwise meet, and exposure to new and different ways of thinking about music. I also think it’s special to hear how different clinicians approach the repertoire. Often times the students are performing pieces that the clinicians know pretty well, so the way the clinician works with the student(s) can be a window into the clinician’s own process. Audience members get to hear talented young students demonstrate their abilities and then watch a mini lesson, something that’s usually a private experience. It’s also a chance for the audience to humanize the clinician a bit. Often clinicians are famous soloists or important pedagogues, people regular audience members don’t have access to.

What should the participants be prepared for?
As a clinician, I try to ask myself: What’s the one thing I can say to this student to make a difference today? I’m not looking to fundamentally change technique, or to tear apart the student’s musical interpretation. I’m looking for one idea to explore and focus on in different guises throughout the piece. Masterclasses are a celebration of work already done, and the exciting prospect of more work to do. Participants should be prepared to learn, to try new things, and to come away from the experience with new tools or a new perspective. Participants are guinea pigs, and everyone knows how hard that can be. But everyone in the room – clinician, fellow participants, and observers — wants the participants to succeed.

As a student, I’ve participated in more masterclasses than I can count at this point. I’ve done solo masterclasses with Gil Shaham, Midori, Julia Fischer, Christoph Eschenbach, Pamela Frank, Donald Weilerstein, Robert Lipsett, and more, and I’ve been lucky to have chamber music masterclasses with some of the top quartets and chamber musicians in the world.

Learn more about Robyn Bollinger

Buy tickets to Orchestra of Indian Hill’s A Feast of Anniversaries concert, November 4 at 7:30pm

OIH FB Cover Nov.

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Maestro Bruce Hangen and Orchestra of Indian Hill Kick Off 43rd Season Saturday, September 23

Maestro Bruce Hangen

Maestro Bruce Hangen

Opening Night Program Features Berlioz, Tchaikovsky, and Dvorak, with Soloist Yun-Chin Zhou, Piano.

Experience the color, drama, and excitement of a live symphony orchestra with Maestro Bruce Hangen and the Orchestra of Indian Hill on Saturday, September 23 at Littleton High School Performing Arts Center, 56 King Street, Littleton, MA. Their program will feature Tchaikovsky’s timeless Piano Concerto No. 1 with guest soloist Yun-Chin Zhou; Dvorak’s Symphony No. 6; and Berlioz’s Overture to Benvenuto Cellini.

The concert begins at 7:30pm with a pre-concert talk by Maestro Hangen at 6:30pm, and is followed by the ‘Encore Café’ post-concert Q@A with Hangen and Zhou. Tickets are $20, $35, and $50 online or by calling (978) 486-9524 x116. (Indian Hill Music Students receive free admission to orchestra concerts.)This concert is sponsored by Murphy Insurance Agency. Season media sponsor: Wicked Local.

“What an exciting way to begin the season!” says Hangen. “We’re showcasing three unrelated composers whose works complement each other: from Tchaikovsky’s piano concerto with a terrific guest artist; to the dramatic, even jubilant symphony of Dvorak; and all beginning with the dashingly brilliant colorizations of Hector Berlioz’s overture.”

View Bruce’s Opening Night Concert Comments

Zhou_MattDine1

Yun-Chin Zhou | Credit: Matt Dine

Young Concert Artist and award-winning pianist, Yun-Chin Zhou is guest soloist on Tchaikovsky’s concerto. A native of Shenyang, China, Zhou (whose given name means pure melody) has been hailed as a “dashing virtuoso … complete with dazzling fingerwork and shapely phrasing” (Cleveland Plain Dealer).

The Huffington Post adds: “Zhou was far and beyond anyone I have heard in many years: an original character, insightful musicianship, breathtaking technique, and best of all, he conveyed true joy in playing… there was passion, expressivity, serenity, generosity, humanism, fireworks and the sparkling of youth at every turn.”

Listen to performances by Yun-Chin Zhou

Maestro Bruce Hangen began his Orchestra of Indian Hill affiliation in the 1997 Season. He is also Director of Orchestral Activities at The Boston Conservatory and Principal Conductor of the Boston Conservatory Orchestra. Known for his ability to make music come alive for audiences everywhere, Hangen is a frequent guest conductor of the country’s leading orchestras. He was Principal Guest Conductor of the Boston Pops for over 20 years and has appeared with the New York Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony, Houston Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, New Zealand Symphony, and Baltimore Symphony.

Now in its 32nd year, Indian Hill Music is a thriving non-profit regional center for music education and performance located in Littleton, Massachusetts. One of only a small group of non-profit organizations nationwide that encompasses a community music school, professional orchestra, and outreach programs, Indian Hill Music serves 79 communities ranging from Greater Boston to Southern New Hampshire. We are motivated by the belief that music inspires both our hearts and our minds, encourages the growth and development of the “whole person,” and is integral to the lives of the individuals and communities we serve.

In August 2015, Indian Hill Music publicly confirmed that it had purchased property in neighboring Groton. As a result of generous contributed revenue, the IHM community is thrilled to move forward with an exciting new phase of the organization’s future. Anticipated to open in late 2020, the new Music Center at Indian Hill in Groton will integrate a wide range of performances with our educational and outreach programs to ensure everyone can access the many facets of music.

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Posted in Blog, Latest News, Orchestra

Is the Suzuki Method for you? A chat with instructor Bethany Stephan

Children the world over learn to speak their native language with ease. Shinichi Suzuki applied the basic principles of language acquisition to the learning of music, and called his method the mother-tongue approach. The ideas of parent responsibility, loving encouragement, constant repetition, listening to recordings, step-by-step mastery, and group learning are some of the defining features of the Suzuki approach.Discovery3

Indian Hill Music School is now offering a Suzuki Program for Violin or Guitar for ages 4+.  Learn more about this unique and effective approach from instructor Bethany Stephan.

Q. What makes Suzuki different from traditional instrument lessons?

A. Suzuki a great step-by-step approach that can be easily tailored to the individual needs of the child and incorporates a lot of games and repetition — two things most children love.

Unlike traditional lessons, students in the Suzuki program attend one private lesson and an additional group class each week — an incredible opportunity for your child to be motivated by and grow relationships with their peers and learn about ensemble playing,  and for parents to build relationships with others in the program and trade experiences. When a student studies the Suzuki repertoire, there is an immediate bond with other Suzuki students across the nation and the world.

“If children hear fine music from the day of their birth and learn to play it, they develop sensitivity, discipline, and endurance. They get a beautiful heart.” – Shinichi Suzuki

Suzuki’s ultimate goal was to develop beautiful human beings, so engaging in the Suzuki Method is not only about developing solid musical abilities – it is also about encouraging growth in character.

Q. Is Suzuki all about learning to play by ear?

A. Absolutely not! The philosophy is really that the best way to learn a spoken language is through hearing, imitating and repetition followed by learning how to read after a child can speak it. Suzuki took this and created a parallel for the language of music, so once a child can play songs with a certain fluidity (speak) then they are taught how to read.

When a child begins to read will vary from student to student. In the beginning, the focus is on developing the ear and setting a solid foundation for posture and technique. Suzuki students often find later in life that they are able to easily improvise or play in bands because of this early ear development.

Q. Why is parent involvement important?

A. Developmentally speaking, parents are the greatest support system a child has. Within the context of Suzuki lessons, parents act as cheerleaders, ensure practicing is happening, and act as an extension of the teacher at home.

Q. Did you take Suzuki lessons as a child? 

A. Yes! I was five years old and watching my brother take lessons weekly. I became a bit jealous, asked for my own lessons and the rest is history — I now play with the Orchestra of Indian Hill and have taught violin for almost 15 years.

Q. To whom would you recommend the Suzuki method?

A. Suzuki is a great way to start for young children (elementary school age and younger) and parents who want to be involved in their child’s education and are prepared to dedicate some time building a special bond with their child through a new activity. As a Suzuki teacher, I believe that every child can learn how to play the instrument well with the right tools, practice and environment.

Please call our main office at 978-486-9524 or visit the Suzuki Association of the Americas website to learn more about the Suzuki approach and the Suzuki program at Indian Hill Music.

About Bethany Stephan

BLandbyB.M. and Performance Certificate, University of Denver; Suzuki Association of the Americas Teacher Training (Books 1-8); M.M., Carnegie Mellon University. Principal teachers: Andres Cardenes, Linda Wang, and Mary West

Bethany Stephan’s varied performance and teaching career has taken her around the globe, including Austria, Iceland, Central America, and Spain. Her current orchestra positions include Orchestra of Indian Hill, Albany Symphony, West Virginia Symphony, and the Santo Domingo Music Festival Orchestra (Dominican Republic). She has also performed with artists such as Josh Groban, Ben Folds, and the Transiberian Orchestra. Bethany’s teaching career of over fifteen years has included teaching both traditional lessons and the Suzuki Method. She is also experienced in coaching chamber music, teaching group classes, leading orchestral sectionals, and substitute teaching orchestra ensembles. Her previous faculty experience includes the Lamont Pre-College Academy (Denver), the Mounds View School District Summer Orchestra Program (St. Paul, MN), Sewickley Academy (Pittsburgh), Pittsburgh Music Academy, and in Panama through the Orchestra of the Americas. In addition to teaching private lessons at Indian Hill Music, Bethany teaches group violin classes at our Ayer Shirley After School Program. As a lover of many music genres, she enjoys fiddling in the American and Irish style. When not performing or teaching, Bethany can be found in nature, with many good books, or social dancing.

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Faculty Spotlight: Amy Lee, Piano – Chamber Music Intensive

Meet IHM Piano Department Co-Chair Amy Lee of our summer Chamber Music Intensive, a challenging immersion program for advanced students.

amylee_headshot_8328What instrument do you teach?

I primarily teach piano. I also coach ensembles — piano four-hands, piano-and-string duos and trios.

What styles of music do you teach?

My main focus is teaching through classical music, but there are “side projects” too. There are over five-hundred years of classical music, a wealth of compositional value and history to share. I’m always introducing my students to unfamiliar composers and have them listen to recordings before they decide on repertoire. The students can develop their individual musical taste. When a student has a curiosity for a pop-song, Broadway hit, jazz, TV or movie soundtrack themes, I encourage them to learn the music and embrace what it has to offer.

Do you actively perform?

Yes! I perform solo, chamber music, collaborating often with instrumentalists and other musicians. It’s enriching to create and perform a work that’s larger than oneself. There is tremendous value in balancing both performing and teaching. It’s a cyclical learning process, which I enjoy immensely.

Why did you choose to study piano?

I played several instruments growing up, but I always returned to the piano. I enjoy the physicality and symmetry of the keyboard. I enjoy how the piano keyboard can cover the entire range of an orchestra.

How long have you been at IHM? What do you like most about teaching here?

I have been at IHM for about five years now. I’m glad we have multiple learning and performing opportunities for students during the school year and summertime. In addition, it is a wonderful, supportive community. I have some fantastic colleagues and friends!

AmyLee2
Tell us about Chamber Music Intensive. What can students expect from the week?

There is so much more to musicianship and music education than a student’s individual, technical mastery at their instrument. How will students play together, collaboratively? It’s beyond counting and rhythms, or knowing your individual part. Students must open their minds and learn how to listen. They will learn how to communicate with other musicians, and how to convey and contribute to a larger-scale work. Students will develop more confidence and intention in their playing.

What do you like to do when you’re not teaching or performing?

I love cooking, baking, making espresso drinks and challenging my palate. I also really enjoy photography, visiting museums and enjoying live music.

Amy Lee is a multi-faceted musician who is passionate about collaboration, chamber music, and education. Her repertoire ranges from Bach and Martino to new music collaborations with young composers. She performs chamber music regularly with Trio d’amis and frequently collaborates with composer Timothy Dusenbury. From concert halls to libraries, salons and jazz clubs, Amy has performed internationally and across the East Coast, with chamber performances in the UK, the Sheung Wan Civic Center in Hong Kong, as well as recitals at in New York, Harvard University, Bentley University, and the Brevard Music Center. An active member of NEPTA and board chair of the Massachusetts Music Teachers Association (MMTA), she also enjoys giving guest music lectures at local colleges and high schools and performing community outreach. She is a graduate of Longy School of Music (U.D. and M.M. in Piano Performance) with additional studies at Boston University and Emerson College. Masterclasses with Leslie Amper, Norman Krieger, Sally Pinkas, Victor Rosenbaum, and Andrius Zlabys. Principal teachers: Randall Hodgkinson, Roberto Poli, and Judith Ross (a student of Nadia Boulanger)

A dedicated teacher and adjudicator, Amy specializes in teaching piano, keyboard theory, and coaching piano ensembles. Her students often perform in community outreach, workshops, masterclasses, recitals, and state-wide Massachusetts Music Teachers Association events. Amy believes in fostering the love of music-making, developing a strong sense of pulse, listening, imagination, curiosity, dedication, and achievement.

Raise your artistry with our Chamber Music Intensive! Hone your individual and ensemble playing skills and polish your repertoire through coaching sessions, guided practice time, and masterclasses with distinguished teaching artists.

Chamber Music Intensive
Aug. 7-11 | 9:30am – 4:30pm
Concert: Sat. Aug 12 | 4pm
Ages 14 – College
Tuition: $625
Learn more and register!

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Stage It! DIY Musical Revue: Meet the Directors

FAC_JAN_RobSueWebStage It! DIY Musical Revue is Indian Hill’s unique two-week summer musical theater experience for young singer-actors ages 8 – 15. Learn more about our directors, Susan Bonito and Rob Woodin, IHM voice instructors with extensive experience in musical theater and opera stage performance and production. Read their bios.

What singing style(s) do you teach?

Sue: Classical, opera, musical theater, pop, rock, folk, singer-songwriter, jazz, and contemporary commercial music.

Rob: All styles of vocal music, primarily classical/opera/art song, jazz, pop/rock, folk, and musical theatre.

What are your favorite musical roles to perform?

Sue: Although I have done a few Operatic Roles, such as Lina (Stiffelio), Fiordiligi (Cosi fan Tutti) Belinda (Dido and Aneas), and Suor Angelica, I prefer singing solos in large choral works with orchestra like The Verdi Requiem, Mozart Requiem, Great Mass in C, and Bach’s Mass in B minor.  I also love The Four Last Songs by R. Strauss and Knoxville, Summer of 1915 by Copeland.

Rob: Papageno from The Magic Flute, The Count from The Marriage of Figaro, Mercutio from Romeo and Juliette, and Marcello/Schaunard from La Boheme

Why did you choose to study voice? Was there one teacher or program that inspired you StageIt3the most as you were learning?  

Sue: I started out as a saxophonist. When I applied to USC as a double major, they told me I would not have time to study both sax and voice there, and that I should pick one or the other.  I was more drawn to classical music and there was a lot more repertoire for voice than for saxophone.  So, I chose voice, even though, at time, I was much more accomplished on saxophone.

Rob: My first voice teacher, Jim Pitka, had performed operas in Europe and was a big inspiration. My parents are both musicians/actors as well and provided a great supportive, guiding base to follow in their footsteps.

StageIt1How long have you been at IHM? What do you like most about teaching here?

Sue: I have been teaching at Indian Hill for almost 15 years. There are so many things I enjoy about teaching at Indian Hill: being part of an incredibly talented group of people, having the opportunity to both teach and perform, helping my students achieve their musical goals, collaborating with other musicians, and creating curriculum are all high on my list.

Rob: About eight years. Indian Hill offers lots of recitals and performance opportunities for my students — I love cheering them on, and seeing the fruits of our labors.

What do you hope to do in Stage It! this summer? What can students gain from this experience?

Sue: I hope to give students the tools, confidence, and opportunity to explore and realize their own gifts and talents through the process of creating a show together. Not only will they have the opportunity to hone traditional musical theater skills like singing, dancing, and acting, but they will also have opportunities to collaborate with others to determine the story line, write their own dialog, develop their character, and design their own costumes. They may also hone life skills such as planning, organizing, marketing, and team building.

Rob: I hope that students unlock their potential in all aspects of the theatre, be it writing, design, singing, acting, or dancing! Stage It! is a valuable experience because we produce something new together, from our own creative minds.

What do you like to do when you’re not teaching or performing?  

Sue: I like to garden, write, compose, paint, sew, cook and read.  I also like to design and build things.

Rob: Watch the Patriots & Red Sox! Vacation and travel all over European countries, cook, and go out to dinner with my wife, Jenni.

 Learn more about Stage It! and register for Summer 2017

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