January 2015 Newsletter
February Performance and Ticketing Information
Concert Beneficiary: Bay State Animal Cooperative
Program Spotlight: Sam Beebe, "12 Days in the Bywater" and Brett Johnson, "Watch Over Your Children, O Lord"
Member Profile: Jennifer Visconti, Viola
Board Member Search
Ensembles in Residence

Support Calliope in 2015
Dear Friends,

The chill of winter often makes us hunker down and enjoy the comforts and warmth of home. It's in that spirit that Calliope will present our next performance, "Finding a Home," proceeds from which will benefit the Bay State Animal Cooperative, an organization that helps give animals the comfort and security of home. The concert program features Rossini's Stabat Mater; Gershwin's Embraceable You and Someone to Watch Over Me;  Amir Mahallati's Cantata No. 1 - Reflections on Love and Spirituality (as detailed in the December 2014 issue of this newsletter); and two new compositions by local composers, Sam Beebe's 12 Days in the Bywater and Brett Johnson's Watch Over Your Children, O Lord. Read on below for more details about these last two works, which we are honored to perform!

"Finding a Home" will be performed on Saturday, February 7th at 7:30 p.m., at First Church of Boston, 66 Marlborough Street. Tickets are $35 for general admission, $45 for premium seating, and $25 for students and seniors (with valid ID). You can purchase tickets online here, by phone at 617-759-2057, or at the door of the day of the performance (pending availability). In keeping with tradition, at the concert we'll hold a raffle for a fantastic prize package, as well as a silent auction featuring great items like hand-crafted shawls and jewelry, a pet supplies gift package, and tickets to Boston-area music performances. We look forward to seeing you there!

Left: Adopter Kevin, with his adopted cat Jenny.


Each February, Calliope partners with a local organization whose mission or focus is linked to the music we perform. This year, we are pleased to be working with the Bay State Animal Cooperative (BSAC), based in Norwood, MA. BSAC is an all-volunteer organization that practices a no-kill philosophy while providing resources and services aimed at reducing animal overpopulation and unnecessary suffering for companion, stray, relinquished, and feral cats. In addition, BSAC works cooperatively with other humane organizations, local municipalities, and the community to develop and implement a trap­–neuter–return program, and seeks resources for low-cost spay/neuter options.
BSAC strives to educate people about responsible pet ownership. As Marcia Motta, BSAC founder and president, explains, “Pets are not a luxury, not a given. We owe them something, and need to be responsible.” BSAC relies on volunteers to care for the animals and to do light office work at its partner shelter, Petco, in Norwood. Volunteers include students from the League School in Walpole who are on the autism spectrum, and students from the Phoenix School in Norwood, an alternative high school. Marcia says, “I love seeing the kids, and vice versa. They’re helping us as much as we’re helping them.”
Future goals of BSAC include operating a regular, truly low-cost spay/neuter clinic, providing a facility for special-needs felines, and operating a facility capable of supporting more adoption options, emergency care, and recovery space for the trap–neuter–return program. “In the big picture of life, animals are dependent upon us humans, and I feel we are obligated to provide them with safe, unconditional, and engaging lifelong opportunities,” Marcia explains. “The return is greater than words can express.”

For more information about BSAC, please visit their website at

Program Spotlight: Sam Beebe's 12 Days in the Bywater

Sam Beebe was inspired by a May 2012 trip with friends to Bywater, a neighborhood east of the French Quarter of New Orleans. During that two-week excursion, he sketched the music that is about to be premiered by Calliope. Sam says that he is grateful and “so glad to have the chance to bring this music to the members of Calliope and the Boston music community.” 

Sam put a lot of energy toward editing the score of 12 Days in the Bywater so that it takes advantage of the whole ensemble and captures the spirit of the trip as he and his friends met new people, found new places, and “foraged for sensations and surprises.” The piece is scored for a flute, oboe, B-flat clarinet, bassoon, F horn, B-flat trumpet, trombone, piano, glockenspiel, and strings.  “It’s one thing to write for a chamber ensemble," Sam explains. "In an orchestral setting, where the numbers are greater, there is a chance to create a sound that has a much greater depth.”

Sam cannot point to any one particular section of the piece as his favorite, as he aims to make music possessing a dramatic arc or narrative that stretches across the entire piece. He notes that in this work, "I wanted to use the whole ‘canvas’ that is the orchestra, so the orchestration is a highlight for me.”

Program Spotlight: Brett Johnson's Watch Over Your Children, O Lord
Brett Johnson is honored to have Watch Over Your Children, O Lord premiered by Calliope this February. The piece was commissioned by Allen and Johanna Hill, members of Brett's church, on the occasion of their mutual 75th birthdays. This was their first commission of an artistic work. “My choral writing comes from the deepest part of my heart," Brett says, "and Allen and Johanna inspire [this] on every level.”
The text was chosen from the Book of Common Prayer, No. 51, “For a Birthday,” the prayer book that inspires their shared faith. The prayer contains all the aspirations Brett has for the Hills: blessing, strength, comfort, and deep peace. He explains, “Allen needs two canes to walk, so the phrase ‘raise them up if they fall’ has particular courage for him; and their own adult child has a debilitating chronic brain injury, [so] ‘comfort them when discouraged or sorrowful’ resonates daily for them. Indeed, they are unique, strong, caring people. I am grateful to call them friends.”
Musically, Brett conveys the power in “strengthen them when they stand” and “raise them up if they fall” by outlining octaves and open fourths and fifths with rhythmic urgency. He also uses the sacred power of silence (the rests) to underline and invite reverberation of each statement. “I wanted there to be a compassionate gentleness,” Brett explains, “which is why much of the score is marked dolce, requiring the singers to find a beauty of tone and effortlessness in execution. I love how the 'Amen' brings the opening material back, but with a more expansive, affirming quietude.”

Member Profile: Jennifer Visconti, Viola

Violist Jennifer Visconti became a member of Calliope in 2012 after a friend who sings with the ensemble told her about the need for her instrument, and encouraged her to join. After about a year as a performing member, she took on the additional role of an Operational Board Member, in which she still currently serves along with alto Katherine Gilliland.
Jennifer began playing the violin in first or second grade, and added the viola to her repertoire in seventh grade because the school's orchestra had only one violist. Throughout high school, she continued playing both instruments and teaching lessons on both, and though she auditioned for regional and state orchestras on both instruments, she usually ended up playing in the orchestras as a violist. Jennifer attended Princeton University to study anthropology, and when it came time to audition for their orchestra, she says, “I went with the viola, so that's what I've stayed with.” She also sang in an a cappella group during her undergraduate years, but took a break from musical activities during law school. Finally having the free time to do so, Jennifer was glad to seize the opportunity to play viola again with Calliope.
Of the many pieces Jennifer has performed with the ensemble, her favorite is Vaughn Williams’ Five Mystical Songs, from the September 2014 concert, “Images of Fate.” “I enjoyed the weaving of soloists, choir, and orchestration, and each song was beautiful on its own — but collectively, it was magic,” she explains. “It felt like we were on all on this journey, from meditative to triumphant.”
Outside of rehearsal, Jennifer keeps busy working for a large medical device company in Waltham, drafting and negotiating contracts for the sale of dialysis products and equipment. She enjoys baking, dancing like no one is watching in a Body Jam class at her gym, and walking her dog, Pepper-Belle, around the South End. Jennifer also spends time volunteering in the kitchen at Rosie’s Place.
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 any party!  To request more information about EIR or to inquiry about hiring an ensemble for your event, click here.

Support Calliope All Year Round!
Even though the holiday shopping season has passed, you can help support Calliope while you shop online at all year round! Simply click through to from the Calliope website, by visiting and clicking 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 for your support!
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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 © 2015 Calliope, Inc., all rights reserved.

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