December 2014 Newsletter
Greetings and February Concert Info
Support Calliope While You Shop
Program Spotlight: Amir Mahallati, "Cantata No. 1 - Reflections on Love and Spirituality"
Member Profile: Joe Tyman, Tenor
Board Member Search
Ensembles in Residence

Dear Friends,

There's a chill in the air, but also a sparkle, brought by the holiday season that's now upon us! And the members of Calliope have been working hard in rehearsals for the last few weeks, preparing for our February 7, 2015 concert, "Finding a Home." The program features Rossini's Stabat Mater, Gershwin's Embraceable You and Someone to Watch Over Me, and three new works by local composers. Read below for more details about one of the new pieces that we're excited to be performing! In keeping with the theme of finding a place to call home, February's concert will benefit the Bay State Animal Cooperative, an organization providing sheltering and adoption for animals, along with other humane services.

We're happy to report that our membership for this fall and winter includes 32 singers and 24 instrumentalists, and 11 of these musicians are new to the ensemble or returning after extended periods of hiatus. As an ensemble, we are embarking on a new initiative this season of strengthening the meaning of "membership" by expanding volunteerism within the organization. Our ultimate goal is for EVERY performing Calliope member to commit to a particular volunteer activity that helps the ensemble run smoothly --- whether researching fundraising opportunities, recruiting new members, or organizing volunteers on concert day. As the saying goes, many hands make light work!

Support Calliope While You Shop this Holiday Season
The holiday shopping season is in full swing, and did you know that you can help support Calliope while you shop online at It's easy! Just click through to from the Calliope website: visit, and click on the Amazon logo in the middle of the page. Then shop to your heart's content! Amazon will contribute a percentage of your purchase to our organization, and every little bit helps. Thank you in advance for your support, and happy holidays!

Program Spotlight: Amir Mahallati,
Cantata No. 1 - Reflections on Love and Spirituality

Amir Mahallati, a member of Calliope since 2013, was born in Tehran, Iran, and has lived in the Boston area for almost 25 years. He began playing the guitar at the age of 9, and started studying piano, music theory, and composition at 12. After winning an award for piano composition at 14, during high school Amir attended the New England Conservatory Preparatory Division, studying piano with David Hagan and composition with Rodney Lister and later, with Stephen Savage. Since high school, he explains, his musical education has been largely self-taught, with the aid of references like Arnold Schoenberg's Theory of Harmony. Amir works as a software test automation engineer at Battery Corp in Framingham, MA, and is studying computer science at UMass Boston. 

Amir composed the choral movements of his 
Cantata No. 1 in 2010 as a cappella pieces, and then returned to the work for several months this year to compose an orchestral Prelude and orchestrate the previously written choral movements. Amir says that the cantata's subject matter was inspired by that of Mahler's Symphony No. 8 --- love as the driving force of creation. "In my work," he explains, "I have imagined love as the underlying force of the law that governs the universe and causes it to function harmoniously." By striving to embrace that law, an individual may become, in Mahler's words, "an instrument upon which the universe plays." In Zoroastrianism, an ancient Iranian religion founded by the prophet Zarathustra, the law is called asha, which can be translated as "truth," "holiness," and "goodness."

The text in Cantata No. 1 comes from three sources: a poem by the 14th-century Iranian poet and mystic Hafez; selections from Avesta, the holy book of Zoroastrianism; and a poem by Rumi, a 13th-century Iranian poet and mystic. The Prelude relates tightly to both movements and its underlying theme, though never explicitly heard, is the subject of the first movement, "Fugue: Separation and Yearning." This movement touches on the sorrowful aspect of love, and at its end, a motif of descending fifths and octaves (sung by the tenors) pays homage to the final horn phrases of Mahler's Symphony No. 6. The second movement, "Asha," uses imagery of the sun, expressed through the text from Avesta, to represent love. The movement begins in C major and works its way into the remote key of B major, which contrasts with the first movement's B minor tonality. "Asha" ends by transforming the sorrowful ending of "Fugue" into an expression of joy.

Amir's other works include Zeal and Passion for orchestra, A New Dawn for piano, and The Wayfarer for mezzo-soprano and piano. He is very much looking forward to Calliope performing his piece in February's concert. "This will be the first time that a composition of mine will have a major public performance," he says. "I am very excited about it!"

Member Profile: Joe Tyman, Tenor

Tenor Joe Tyman has been singing with Calliope since 2009. He had been a member of a local community chorus from 2008 to 2009, where he met many fellow singers, some of whom were also performing with Calliope — and they soon told him about the unique collaborative experience Calliope offered to both instrumentalists and singers. Joe was intrigued and ready to take on a new challenge, so through destiny and good networking, he became part of our ensemble.
Since childhood, Joe has enjoyed performing various types of music, and made his debut at age 6 when a family friend’s band asked him to publicly perform the original Charlie Brown song. He became more involved with singing in high school, and Joe remembers the experience of seeing his grandfather in the audience of his senior-year pops concert as he performed a solo in the song “I Shall Be Released.” “Having him be able to be there for that, and then seeing me graduate, was quite important to me,” Joe explains. “I still remember it today.”
Calliope’s September 2012 performance, “A Mass In Pieces,” has been Joe’s favorite experience thus far with Calliope. But he also particularly enjoyed the a cappella version of the overture to “The Barber of Seville” that was part of the February 2013 concert, “Of Lords and Ladies.” The piece required various Looney Tunes–inspired onomatopoeia vocals from the chorus, resulting in an impressive musical movement that captured the essence of its inspiration. As Joe describes it, “The two sides of that coin made the piece enjoyable, while also challenging — which is why it’s one I recall fondly.” Joe looks forward to entertaining our audience this February with a wide variety of material — from a traditional Stabat Mater to contemporary a cappella, as well as a beautifully composed piece by a Calliope member (see elsewhere in this newsletter for more about this work).
In addition to his work as a performing member of Calliope, Joe is poised to complete a three-year term serving as a liaison to the Calliope board. There are two such positions maintained on the board, and the ensemble is grateful to have entrusted Joe in this capacity. Alto Katherine Farrior will soon rotate in to this position, and will serve as board liaison along with violist Jennifer Visconti.
Joe works as an attorney in downtown Boston, which takes up quite a lot of his time. But now, aside from his job and the joy of song, Joe is excited to focus his attention on his upcoming wedding in June 2015. He also enjoys reading a good book, playing card games, and regular Sunday afternoon apartment cleaning — while watching the television series “Hoarders” for motivation.
Board Member Search Continues

Calling individuals with interest to partner with us as members of the Calliope board! We welcome those with expertise in the areas of development, marketing, or finance. Board members must purchase 10 tickets to each performance, and the term of membership is 3 years. Please send an e-mail to for more information about this opportunity.

Musicians for Hire

Calliope Ensembles in Residence (EIR) musicians are available for private parties, weddings, corporate events, and so much more. In the past year, EIR musicians have performed at various events in the Boston area and would make an excellent addition to a holiday party!  To request more information about EIR or about hiring an ensemble for your event, click here.

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Calliope's Mission Statement
Calliope shares the joy of music through passionate collaboration between singers and instrumentalists. It is our mission that audiences benefit from collaboration between instrumentalists and singers, resulting in deeper understanding and performance of the music. We pursue this goal by:
  • Providing excellent music to the community of Greater Boston via a new, more inclusive method of rehearsal and performance
  • Capitalizing on the power of music to contribute toward social improvement via one benefit concert each season for an organization whose mission is reflected in our programming for that performance
  • Cultivating artists and their supporters for the future through our mentoring scholarship program.
 Julia O'Toole, Artistic Director
Copyright © 2013 Calliope, Inc., all rights reserved.

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