Opus | 2021 April

April 2021 Opus

News at CCM

CCM Student Vincent Canciello, From Fifer to Flutist

CCM Celebrates Black Composers

Behind the Scenes

Singing with Parkinson's ChorusNEWS AT CCM

We’re thrilled to share that CCM is a recipient of an American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) – Massachusetts Chapter Program Grant supporting our Parkinson’s Chorus. The CCM Singing with Parkinson's Chorus brings together people living with Parkinson’s, family members, and caregivers. Albeit online this year, it continued to bring singers together to strengthen their voices and spirits.

We’re grateful for APDA’s belief in us and their support. It allows us to help people in our community with voice therapy—providing the opportunity to sing, perform, and experience the joy of making music together.

You can join the Chorus at any time. If interested, please email us or call (978) 369-0010.

American Parkinson Disease Association

Plague Music

CCM April Lectures - engages, educates, and entertains.

Everyone is welcome to attend these complimentary online lectures. 

AFTER THE PLAGUE, VOCAL MUSIC OF THE HIGH RENAISSANCE  / Saturday, April 10, 10:00 - 11:00 am

JAZZ HISTORY IN A NUTSHELL / Wednesday, April 14, 5:30 - 6:30 pm


Register in advance to receive the link to the lecture.

Have you read our blog post, Learn a Second Instrument – And So Much More!

THE CCM BLOG Browse our articles by categories that interest you, from Benefits of Music Education and Performance Prep to Voice Therapy.

CCM Blog

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Vincent Canciello, CCM student and member of the Middlesex County 4-H Fife & Drum Corps

Vincent Canciello, CCM student and member of the Middlesex County Volunteers Fifes & Drums


Living in a region filled with historical significance provided high school senior Vincent Canciello the impetus to take up the fife. After experiencing notable local reenactments, he decided to try the instrument and has been immersed in music ever since.

Vincent’s dedication to learning music has led him to study Baroque flute performance at college next year. CCM flute faculty member Nicholas Southwick says, “He has demonstrated incomparable work ethic, strong, cerebral communication skills, and great musical promise. Vincent is consistently prepared for his lessons, as he maintains a high level of discipline throughout his practice that stems from his intrinsic self-motivation.”

Vincent began learning the flute with Nicholas after having studied the fife for eight years. Nicholas states, “Despite having had limited formal training on the modern flute, he adapted his technique at a decent speed and was very receptive to my teaching; he quickly excelled and was playing advanced repertoire within months. In addition, he dutifully prepares scales, etudes, and tone exercises and is always well prepared for each lesson.”

Deeply interested in music history and performance practice, Vincent is consistently questioning Nicholas about phrasing and style, demonstrating his deep engagement with his music.  Vincent Canciello

Interested in knowing how he went from the fife to the flute and what motivates Vincent, we posed a few questions to him.

How long have you been playing the flute?

At age eight, I began playing the fife, a high-pitched, keyless flute, after being enthralled by the sights and sounds of the Patriot’s Day festivities which occur each April in Lexington and Concord to commemorate the dawn of the American Revolution. The two fife and drum ensembles I've been a part of have allowed me to play with many excellent musicians from across the globe and to perform abroad, and have introduced me to the world of historical music, which I don’t think I would have encountered otherwise.

After starting high school, my musical interests broadened, and I became quite interested in chamber music, so I began teaching myself the flute. After about a year of self-guided study, transferring what I had already learned from the fife to the flute (bad habits and all), I decided that if I were truly serious about pursuing music, I would need to learn from an experienced teacher. So, I’m a relatively late beginner, having only formally studied the flute for two years now. All in all, I play a variety of flutes, from the fife to the baroque traverso and modern silver instrument, as well as the piano.

What got you interested in studying Baroque music? Your goals for college and beyond?

As a young musician, much of what I loved about the fife was the intimate dialogue between voices and the dramatic grandeur reminiscent of the Baroque. I dipped my toe in the waters of baroque flute music, sight-reading sonatas, and concertos by Telemann and Boismortier with other fifers, and the repertoire captured me. I discovered the baroque, wooden, single-keyed traverso flute about the same time I picked up the modern flute and was enchanted by its warm, mellow sound. Already familiar with many of the instrument’s idiosyncrasies because of its similarity to the fife, I felt at home on the baroque flute and knew that this was the instrument I wanted to play professionally.

I intend to major in historical flute performance in preparation for a career researching, performing, and teaching music from the Baroque through Romantic eras on period instruments. In college, I’m primarily looking to get a lot of hands-on playing experience, especially since the past year hasn’t yielded many opportunities for playing with others. I hope to expand my musical horizons in terms of theory, history, and repertoire, meet like-minded musicians, become fluent in the stylistic language of different periods, and fully immerse myself in the music of the past. Ultimately, my dream is to spend my career digging through libraries and old collections of forgotten musical lore, breathing new life into hidden gems from dusty old manuscripts, and sharing that music with others.

What new techniques and playing strategies did Nicholas introduce you to?

Nicholas is an absolute inspiration and has been invaluably instrumental (forgive the pun) in helping me to find my voice as a musician. When I came to my first lesson with him, I brought nine years of self-guided musical baggage with me, and over the past year and a half, he has helped me chip away at bad habits, replacing them with a solid technical foundation. One of the big themes has been relaxing the muscles involved in tone production in order to play in a way that’s less clipped, heavy, strained, and laborious, with an open and flexible sound. The transition to a virtual format for our lessons due to the pandemic hardly impacted the progress we’ve been making together. Nicholas has taught me more than just musical technique - he’s helped me to develop a positive and productive approach to practice and music-making. He encourages me to set specific goals and organize my thoughts in a practice journal, helps me coax story and color from the page, and has taught me to think analytically about bringing the right character out in my interpretations.

When I think back to where I was just two years ago, I merely played notes in comparison! Nicholas’ teaching centers around the philosophy that character, expression, and musicality come first and the technique required will follow the dictates of the music. He’s helped me to cultivate my musical intuition and taught me to trust in my musicianship. I have become a more thoughtful musician as a result of my time studying with Nicholas. 

How has Nicholas prepared you for entering a college music program?

Over the past six months, Nicholas has worked with me to shape my college audition repertoire on both modern and baroque flutes. Many of the skills he’s teaching me and feedback he’s had has mirrored the work I’ve been doing with my baroque flute teacher and vice versa. He’s been more than willing to indulge my passion for earlier classical repertoire and introduced me to works from composers as diverse as Bach and Blavet to Mozart and Schubert.

In addition to helping me develop the necessary prerequisite musical skills, he went above and beyond in helping me prepare for the college admissions process; writing me a letter of recommendation, helping me organize my audition recording sessions at the church, and coming to provide live, in-person feedback for me on the day of my recording. I have been very fortunate to benefit from Nicholas’ dedication as a teacher, passion as a musician, and openness and eagerness to craft his teaching around the needs, ideas, and interests of the student.

What has studying music given you?

My historical and cultural understanding of the world is shaped by music. This historically-oriented conception of music has inspired a greater appreciation of the arts and has helped me to form connections between broader cultural currents across the centuries. When you play a work composed by someone who’s been dead and in some cases forgotten for centuries, a connection is formed, and you’re given a unique window into their world. Studying the universal language of music ultimately gives me a connection to the shared human experience.

Thank you, Vincent, for sharing your story!

Vincent is deciding between attending the Schulich School of Music at McGill University, Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University, and Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. We wish him luck with the decision and at school next year.


CCM Celebrates Black Composers

The Concord Conservatory of Music (CCM) Celebrates Black Composers on Saturday, April 10, with a series of virtual recital programs that provide students the opportunity to study and perform music written by Black composers. Throughout history, these oft-neglected composers did not share the limelight they deserved.

“There’s a wealth of amazing music that deserves to be studied, performed, and celebrated!” CCM piano department chair and faculty member Keith Kirchoff explained. “In addition to performing pieces from a variety of eras and styles, students will also be sharing multimedia presentations on composers' life and creative output. Our goal is not only to hear this great music but to also learn about the brilliant artists behind the notes."

CCM Student

Learning a composer's history helps students contextualize and connect with their music. It will undoubtedly elevate the performance of the compositions. CCM parents Jiwook Kim and Patrick McHale say, "It's wonderful for Sam not only to perform Ulysses Kay's work but also to study his life and how it shaped his music!"

Students and teaching artists have chosen pieces from a wide range of genres – classical, folk, jazz, and ragtime – whose composers span the globe. Students of all ages and abilities will perform iconic and masterful music pieces by Black composers.

CCM violin faculty member Nicole Parks explains, "We have organized this program to celebrate Black composers to help our students and faculty explore music that might otherwise be unknown to them. It is our duty as educators to be presenting a well-rounded and inclusive education to our students. Since most of the pedagogical repertoire, at least for strings, has been created by white men, we must include music by composers who have historically been under-represented."

Marcus, CCM piano student

CCM student Marcus Hinds is learning and will perform a great Miles Davis piece. He says, “The song is very creative and I like that it has a lot of places where one can improvise.”

Miles Davis maybe best known as an influential and acclaimed jazz trumpeter and musician, but he was also a highly accomplished composer and bandleader—and just one of the many composers represented at the April 10th recitals. “I am glad that CCM is celebrating Black Composers and that Marcus is learning ‘All Blues’ by Miles Davis. This is giving him the opportunity to learn a different genre of music by an African American composer and musician”, says Marcus’ mom, Sandra Hinds. “Sometimes when I hear Marcus reviewing the song with his teacher, Keith (Kirchoff), or when he is practicing, I get the tune stuck in my head. That’s a good thing!  We don’t know much about Mr. Davis so I am going to get the book Birth of the Cool: How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound.” And, so the learning continues!

We are also creating a school-wide video where all available students and faculty come together virtually to perform "Le Vieux Garçon" ("The Old Boy") by Ignatius Sancho. Sancho was born on a slave ship off the coast of Guinea in 1729. He was eventually brought to England, where the Duke and Duchess of Montague taught him literature, writing, and music, and he ultimately became a free man. Demonstrating to our students that Sancho and others like him are as important and valuable as the music of more well-known composers is just one small step of the many that we must take to provide a quality music education.

Celebrating Black Composer recitals are open to the public.


Clarinet Masterclass

Clarinet Masterclass on Saturday, March 27 with Musician First Class Sarah Demy, US Navy Band


Throughout the pandemic, official military ensembles have offered free classes and concerts to the public. CCM clarinet faculty member Liz Leehey took notice and sprang into action. We’re so grateful to Liz for organizing an exceptional and complimentary masterclass for her students and CCM ensemble members. It allowed Liz to play host and moderator and provide her students with a unique interactive enrichment program. Clarinet Masterclass on March 27, 2021

“The clarinet community and our military bands have been so generously offering their time and expertise during this pandemic.” Liz enthusiastically said. “Thanks to Musician First Class Sarah Demy from the United States Navy Band for a great Clarinet Clinic for my students and ensemble members! It was fun and informative. Always great to get a bunch of clarinet players together to talk shop!”

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