Indian Hill's Blog

A Minute with Emily Marvosh

Boston contralto Emily Marvosh is a sought-after soloist, and a founding member of the acclaimed Lorelei Ensemble, which promotes new music for women. She has performed at Boston’s Symphony Hall, Carnegie Hall, Jordan Hall, Disney Hall, Lincoln Center, Prague’s Smetana Hall, and Vienna’s Stefansdom, among others, and is a frequent guest soloist with the Handel & Haydn Society.  A proud native of Michigan, Ms. Marvosh created an award-winning chamber recital – The Michigan Recital Project – that celebrates the history and culture of her home state. Ms. Marvosh will sing Elgar’s Sea Pictures with the Orchestra of Indian Hill on Sunday, February 19, and leads a voice masterclass at Indian Hill Music School on Saturday, February 18.

As a contralto soloist, what types of roles do you usually perform? Are there any particular challenges for contraltos?

As a contralto on the younger end of the spectrum, there isn’t much for me in the operatic repertory, although I look forward to my sixties, when I can sing all the great contralto roles! I do mostly concert solos in oratorios and symphonies, which I absolutely love.

EMarvosh2When did you know you wanted to study classical / operatic voice?

I didn’t show any vocal promise until after I had already gone through puberty, and I only joined the school choir because it seemed like the least tedious of the electives available to me. But it turned out that I loved it, and I started taking voice lessons in seventh or eighth grade. I was very fortunate that my first two voice teachers had classical training themselves and the flexibility to offer me different styles. Because I had already been studying piano and French horn, the mental challenge of classical music and technique were most intriguing to me, and I’m still challenged daily by this demanding art.

Do you prefer to perform with chamber ensembles? Choirs? Symphony orchestras? 

Of course I love working with orchestras, but much of my work currently is as a chamber musician. I want to make sure we don’t limit chamber music to instrumental music; in the last 20 years we have seen the rise of the professional vocal chamber ensemble as well. A lot of my chamber work is in small vocal groups, which can’t really be called choirs because they behave like a group of soloists together, and that kind of singing is very satisfying. On the other hand, working with a large symphony choir, particularly with amateur singers, is one of my greatest pleasures in music making. Amateur singers truly do love what they do, and devote countless hours merely for the pleasure of it. How can I not love that?

We know from works like Enigma Variations that Elgar let his sense of humor pervade his music, and it’s really enjoyable to see how he uses different instruments and colors to illustrate the different ways the sea can make us feel.

Who are your favorite composers?

Favorite composers…that’s so hard! Any composer that puts text first will always be a favorite of mine. I love Bach for his dedication to music as service (and for his fugues!). I love Handel’s majesty and Haydn’s humor. I love Britten for his choices of texts. I love Mahler for his ability to create a completely transparent orchestral texture to support the voice. I love Brahms because he understood the alto voice so well.

What is your favorite solo of all time?

It’s one I will never perform: Mache Dich, from [Bach’s] St. Matthew Passion.

What’s on your playlist right now?

As a perk for a recent crowdfunding campaign, the Lorelei Ensemble made a fantastic playlist of music by women…all different kinds, from female mariachi to folk singers to a Pulitzer-winning composition. Check it out here!

What was the inspiration for the Michigan Recital Project?
It came about when I noticed many talented colleagues were (like me) from Michigan, but we had all chosen to establish our careers and homes elsewhere, for a variety of reasons. I wanted a reason to gather together, celebrate our home state, encourage Michigan composers by commissioning new works, and carve out a small part of the chamber music repertoire by putting a Michigan stamp on it!  I am proud to be from Michigan. It’s going through a bit of a tough time right now, but making art is an important way to remind ourselves of our shared humanity and cause for optimism.

What inspires you about Elgar’s Sea Pictures? What should the audience be listening for?

The poetry is by different people, and Elgar’s music reflects the different personality of each poem. We know from works like Enigma Variations that Elgar let his sense of humor pervade his music, and it’s really enjoyable to see how he uses different instruments and colors to illustrate the different ways the sea can make us feel. My favorite poem is Sabbath Morning at Sea by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. She is amazed at the ocean and excited by her journey, but she misses her friends back home…I was going to quote my favorite line here, but I can’t pick just one, the whole poem is so masterful.

EMarvosh1What’s one piece of advice you would have for a young singer?

Everyone’s journey with music is different, so there is no one piece of advice that will work for everyone. For classical musicians (singers, instrumentalists AND conductors too) I always say take care of your languages early, when your brain is more flexible. More than diction, you really need to know the mechanics and grammar of as many languages as possible. Traveling is of course a very enjoyable way to improve one’s languages! Piano skills are also very important for any young musician. But my most dear piece of advice is: be flexible! A good, solid vocal technique will enable you to do anything: musical theater, opera, jazz, choral music, straight theater, early music, spoken word, pop, folk, etc. The characteristic I see most often in professional musicians is flexibility (think of the opportunities Audra McDonald and Kelli O’Hara have had because of their classical chops); they work often and happily because they have the confidence to try something different or new or be able to come along with a conductor or director without fear or hesitation. But in short, get lots of sleep, drink lots of water, and learn your languages!

Emily Marvosh will join Maestro Bruce Hangen and the Orchestra of Indian Hill in a program of Holst, Elgar, Frazelle, and Stravinsky on Sunday, February 19 at 3:00pm. Learn more and buy tickets.

Learn more about Emily Marvosh

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IHM Discovery Lecture: Berklee’s Dr. Bill Banfield to Speak on the Influence of Jazz, Jan. 10

bill_banfieldDiscover more about music history and culture at Indian Hill Music’s next Discovery Lecture on Tuesday, January 10, 7:00pm at 36 King Street, Littleton. Noted Berklee faculty member, Dr. Bill Banfield, will offer a lively presentation about the classical music of the present and future: “The Influence of Jazz and Popular Music on Contemporary Composers.” His talk will explore the places and periods of change across generations, from jazz to hip-hop, the Harlem Renaissance to Cuba, and how these popular music genres have influenced today’s composers.

“Bill Banfield is one of the most original voices on the music scene today.”
— Henry Louis Gates

Dr. Banfield is Director of Africana Studies at Berklee College of Music, as well as a composer, author, and recording artist. He previously served as Endowed Chair Humanities/Fine Arts and Professor of Music/Director of American Cultural Studies/Jazz, Popular, and World Music Studies at the University of St. Thomas, MN. Dr. Banfield also held the post of Assistant Professor, African American Studies /Music at Indiana University, where he developed the Undine Smith Moore Collection of Scores and Manuscripts of Black Composers, a permanent archives collection at the University. A native Detroiter, Dr. Banfield received his B.M. from the New England Conservatory of Music, a Master of Theological Studies from Boston University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts in composition from the University of Michigan. His works have been commissioned, performed, and recorded by orchestras across the country.

Admission to the lecture is $10. Purchase online or by phone at (978) 486-9524.

Learn more about Bill Banfield:

Listen to lectures

Listen to original recordings

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Read about his latest book: Cultural Codes – Makings of a Black Music Philosophy



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Posted in Blog, Discovery Lecture, Latest News

Orchestra of Indian Hill presents New England Premiere by Oscar and Grammy Award winning composer Tan Dun


Saturday, November 12, Maestro Bruce Hangen and the Orchestra of Indian Hill present a program of works that celebrate nature: Dvorak’s In Nature’s Realm; Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 (Pastoral) ; and the New England premiere of contemporary Chinese composer Tan Dun’s contrabass concerto, Wolf Totem (The Wolf).

Best known for his Oscar- and Grammy Award-winning score for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Chinese contemporary Classical composer Tan Dun takes his inspiration from traditional Chinese music, a childhood fascination with ceremonial music made with rocks, water, and other natural objects; and his formal study of Western classical and contemporary composers. His 2014 contrabass concerto, Wolf Totem, is a synthesis of these influences: a traditional three-part concerto based on a book of the same name, that weaves the sounds of traditional Silk Road instruments — string fingering and rhythmic techniques that mimic ancient Mongolian Horse Fiddle playing — with the elegance and grandeur of a modern orchestra.

CONCERT TICKETS: $20-35-50; all seating is reserved. Call 978-486-9524 x116 or order online. (Online service available until 4 pm on concert day.) There is a pre-concert talk at 6:30 pm with Maestro Hangen, plus post-concert Q&A with complimentary coffee and desserts.

Buy tickets | Read more about Wolf Totem | Watch Wolf Totem in action Learn more about Tan Dun

Guest contrabassist Erik Harris gave the American premiere of Tan’s Contrabass Concerto in 2015 with Music Director David Robertson conducting. hE attended the Juilliard School on a full scholarship, where he studied with noted double bass pedagogue Homer Mensch. He served as Principal Bass with the New World Symphony in Miami during its inaugural season in 1988, and the following year, at age 23, was invited by Sir Georg Solti to join the Chicago Symphony. Harris was appointed to his present post as Principal Double Bass of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra in 1993.  An avid teacher, Harris has taught masterclasses at the Manhattan School of Music, New World Symphony, and the Juilliard School, and currently serves on the faculty of Webster University. He performs on a double bass made by Johannes Gagliano in 1804.

Listen to our podcast interview with Erik Harris, guest soloist for Tan Dun’s Wolf Totem, with Orchestra of Indian Hill.

Sponsored byPrint Additional support by Bamboo Fine Asian Cuisine & Sushi Bar


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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


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

Meet Joey Pierog, our Music for Aardvarks teacher!

JoeyPIndian Hill Music School Music for Aardvarks and ukulele instructor Joey Pierog cut his teeth in the children’s music scene as bass player with the popular New Hampshire-based children’s music group, Steve Blunt ‘n’ Friends. He has also toured Europe and the UK three times with artist Christian Cuff.

While overseas, he was surprised to discover just how much Europeans appreciate live music. He wondered why we Americans are so much less receptive. After playing the children’s circuit, Joey learned that that music appreciation is innate in young people and if encouraged, can grow to contribute to a more cultured, intelligent and ultimately happier human being.

After a show with Steve Blunt n’ Friends Joey found himself in a group of children playing percussion instruments, and began to lead an impromptu drum circle. The children were not only responsive but captive (figuratively speaking of course). They laughed and openly shared and switched percussion instruments, attentively awaiting the next instruction.

Joey was surprised and invigorated by how quickly they responded to tempo and rhythm, and started coming up with fun chants, directing solo breaks and dictating dynamic. Before he knew it a half hour had passed and he realized without trying he had gone from being a bass player in a band to leading a class, and a teacher was born!  Joey’s personal mission is to share that love and appreciation of music and help guide children (of all ages) through the beginnings of their own musical journeys. This summer he completed training in this early childhood curriculum, and is very excited to start sharing it with you!

As a performer, Joey has recorded two albums and performs regularly in the Boston area and throughout New England as upright bass player and vocalist with his bluegrass band, The Four Legged Faithful.  He has shared the stage with artists such as B.B. King, Greg Hawkes (of The Cars), and former Tower of Power front man William Edward McGee. His steady performing on stage and as a session musician, and his knack for versatility, has made him one of New England’s premier bass players. A 2007 graduate of Berklee College of Music, Pierog also works at the world-class Rocking Horse Studios in Pittsfield New Hampshire as an engineer and producer.


Joey and Gertrude on stage

Fun Facts

  • Joey is an avid hiker, and in addition to hiking mountains in Alaska and Japan has summited all 48 of New Hampshire’s 4,000 foot peaks
  • One of Joey’s best buddies is Gertrude, his upright bass. They have lots of play dates!
  • Joey spends many a morning tending to his very amateur garden and prides himself on his wide variety of rare and exotic weeds.
  • Raised in part by his very Italian great-grandmother Rose, Joey was taught how to eat. His love of good food is rivaled only by his love of good music. When Joey was a toddler, his mother went to pick him up from his grandmother’s house. Upon entering, his mother posed the question, “Why are you still feeding him? He’s asleep.” Rose simply shrugged, saying “Because he’s still eating it!”
  • As a toddler, Joey would often be present at his father’s band practices. Despite just how loud his dad would rock, he would remain content — at times even napping until the band would break between songs, when he would begin to fuss and cry in protest. A born rocker to say the least.
  • Playing in many drummerless groups, Joey has mastered the art of “foot tambourine” and is often asked to use this unique talent to push along the groove in many groups.

Learn more about Music for Aardvarks and register for classes!

Attend a FREE demo class!



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