theater, the Conservatory is able to offer everything from children’s opera and marimba performance to tap dance and musical theater. In fact, most of our community sites host multiple concerts each season.”
Launched in 1999 with just eight community partners, the Conservatory Connections program now has 30 part- ners and sees demand increase each year. The 2010–2011 academic year was the program’s busiest yet, with students giving 112 free performances to 5,000 children and adults at more than 26 community sites. Haack expects the program will surpass those numbers by the end of the 2011–2012 academic year, particularly given the consistently positive feedback and many heartfelt thank-you notes she receives. “The events are a great way for families to have fun and take a break from very stressful days,” writes S. Mullins of Children’s Hospital Boston.
Barbara Moscowitz, Chief of Geriatric Social Work and Director of MGH Senior HealthWISE, agrees. “I cannot say enough about the benefit of the [Conservatory Connections] performances. One of the great hardships of chronically ill older adults is that they often succumb to depression and isolation. These events have provided social engagement, purpose and happiness that cannot be measured. It’s magical!”
Of course, the “magic” comes with unique challenges for the student performers. Alison McCartan (B.F.A. ’12, musical theater), who currently serves as student director of the Cabaret program, explains, “Audiences can get rowdy. At [women’s shelter] Rosie’s Place, the women are shouting back at us, letting us know how they feel about each and every song. At nursing homes, senior citizens sometimes complain audibly if they cannot hear us—or say which members of Cabaret they are attracted to! But at the end of the day, their responsiveness allows us to make a connection with them in a way we are not typically able to make as performers.”
Noting the positive impact to both performer and audience member, Haack recently added two new outreach programs for Music Education and Dance students. The new Music Education program focuses on community cen- ters and after-school programs, at which Music Education students engage young children in musical improvisation, songs, rhythmic games and musical “petting zoos.” The new Dance outreach program marks a partnership between the Conservatory and local children’s author
Conservatory Connections is supported in part by generous grants from The Bessie Pappas Charitable Foundation, Ramsey McCluskey Family Foundation, The Seth Sprague Educational & Charitable Foundation and Adelard A. Roy & Valeda Lea Roy Foundation. If you would like to learn more about supporting this program, please contact Development Director Eileen Meny at (617)912–9128 or email@example.com
McCartan and Cabaret members perform at MGH.
David Rottenberg. As Rottenberg reads his book, Gwendolyn, the Graceful Pig, to young children, Boston Conservatory Dance students bring the story to life through dance and movement.
With so many organizations and audiences benefitting from the program, Haack hopes to expand the program even further to keep up with demand and give outreach opportunities to even more students. On the horizon is a Guitar program, a Chamber Ensemble outreach program, a Children’s Opera tour and a Community Engagement Performance Series. She is also working with the Dance Division to get students certified in “Dance for PD” (Parkinson’s Disease), a program that could be adapted to help the disabled and elderly with their mobility. “Performance outreach is part of the larger vision for every member of our community to give back and create value for all the constituencies the institution serves,” Haack explains.
McCartan agrees, “We are touching so many special lives outside of the Conservatory while creating an envi- ronment that supports passionate, generous performers within the Conservatory. This experience has changed my life as a performer and as a person. It has absolutely been the biggest highlight of my college experience.”
Community Partners: Boston Arts Academy Boston Children’s Hospital Boston Public Library
Boston Renaissance Charter Public School
Brighton High School Brookline High School Cambridge Rindge & Latin Center Communities of Brookline Dana Farber Cancer Institute Edison School
ETHOS Lunch Group–LGBT Aging Project
Goddard House Hale House
Massachusetts General Hospital Morville House Norwood Hospital
Peterborough Senior Center
Rogerson House Alzheimer’s Center Rosie’s Place
Susan Bailis Assisted Living Center St. Mary’s School Symphony Plaza
United South End Settlements Washington Irving School Women’s Lunch Place YMCA (Huntington Avenue)
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