Milton teen to perform with Boston Pops

Patriot Ledger, May 6, 2018
By Patriot Ledger staff

Milton teenager Sam Higgins will sing with the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall on June 6.

Sam, 15, is one of three winners of the 10th annual Fidelity Investments Young Artists Competition, a state-wide competition for high school students. They will perform with maestro Keith Lockhart and the orchestra along with Sutton Foster, a Tony Award-winner and star of the television show “Younger.”

“It has been my dream to perform with the Boston Pops,” Sam said.

A freshman at Milton High School, Sam, started singing with the Boston City Singers at age 4. The Boston City Singers is a non-profit organization that provides music education to children ages 4 to 18.

“I’ve been singing since before I could talk,” Sam said. “And singing continues to be the biggest passion in my life. It is surreal that at the mere age of 15, I’m really starting to live out my dream -- I want to be an opera singer.”

Sam is the son of Joseph and Elizabeth Higgins. He was chosen as a winner of the competition for his performance of J.S. Bach’s “Bereite dich, Zion.”

In addition to his training with Boston City Singers, Sam studies with Eiji Miura, a graduate of Boston Conservatory at Berklee College of Music and a member of the faculty of New England Conservatory’s Preparatory School.

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Volunteers find unity, purpose at One Boston Day happenings

Volunteers created “peace flags” inside the IBEW Local 103 Freeport Hall on Sunday at an event organized by the Martin Richard Foundation. (Daniel Sheehan photo)

By Daniel Sheehan, Reporter Staff
Dorchester Reporter — April 18, 2018

Hundreds of volunteers gathered on Sunday at IBEW Local 103 in Dorchester to celebrate One Boston Day, a city-sponsored commemoration of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that seeks to channel the “Boston Strong” ethos into a citywide day of service.

Sunday’s event in Dorchester, organized by the Martin Richard Foundation, featured live music, food trucks, service projects, and a variety of children’s arts and crafts activities, including one where kids make hundreds of “Peace Flags” with messages of hope and healing.

The crowd inside the auditorium was dotted with dozens of blue MR8 jackets. This year, 115 runners – including 2014 marathon winner Meb Keflezighi – ran the marathon for team MR8 in honor of Dorchester’s Martin Richard, who was eight years old when he was killed while watching the marathon pass on Boylston Street five years ago with his family. With the added star power and so many runners being sponsored, the foundation exceeded its goal by raising more than $1 million.

“It’s gratifying to see so many people step up,” said Gov. Charlie Baker, who spoke briefly at the event and lauded the “determination and perseverance” of the Richard family.

Team MR8 runner and volunteer Michael Gosselin said the race has new meaning for him. “I think what is great is that the Richards are an example of, when something does happen to you, it’s how you respond and move forward, and that’s what they’re teaching the children in the community, and that’s what really mattered to me the most.”

Another runner, Vicky Shen of South Boston, said her city has always been about kindness and community, but it was a terrible event that brought those qualities to the fore.

“It’s not about looking back at what happened in 2013, it’s about understanding what came out of it, and what the community has had in it the whole time,” she said. “Really there’s a lot of bridges being built.”

The Martin Richard Foundation’s Sierra Rothberg said the foundation has created a platform for people to join together and volunteer. She hopes that’s one legacy of what happened five years ago.

“Everybody wants to do something really good and positive on this day, and I think throughout the year, but this is kind of a moment for everyone to really pull together, and we’re really seeing that today, with numbers and spirit.”

Mayor Martin Walsh, who also spoke at the event, thanked the Richard family and all the runners and volunteers before inviting all the children in the building to join him up front with to thank Martin.

“Let’s, on three, thank Martin for teaching us valuable lessons every single day of his life, and for still teaching us today,” said the mayor. Toward the end of the event, a children’s choir from Boston City Singers performed a rendition of Andra Day’s “Rise Up,” followed by a moment of silence at 2:49 p.m., the time of the bombing in 2013.

Bill Richard concluded the event with a quote from his wife Denise: “Perhaps we rely on the notion that we need life-altering situations to make kindness matter. Kindness need not be displayed in random acts but with intent and purpose. Kindness is a vital part of the effort to foster a peaceful and just region, nation, and global community. Kindness supports human dignity, and should be shared freely, neighbor to neighbor, block by block, until everyone is recognized as equal.”

Simón Ríos of WBUR contributed to this report.

Community Consulting Teams of Boston Awards a Consulting Project Grant to Boston City Singers

(February 28, 2018 – Dorchester, MA) Community Consulting Teams of Boston (CCT) has selected Boston City Singers as one of its 11 pro bono management consulting projects for 2018.  CCT has awarded over 200 consulting grants to Boston-area nonprofits since its inception in 1990, providing an estimated $17 million value. Boston City Singers was chosen among Boston-area nonprofits based on its organizational stability and readiness to plan and implement change.  The CCT project will focus on Boston City Singer’s business strategy. “We are honored to be selected from such an impressive group of applicants and are so grateful for this support,” said Jane Money, Founding Artistic Director.

About Community Consulting Teams of Boston

Community Consulting Teams of Boston (CCT) amplifies the impact of Boston-area nonprofits through pro bono management consulting projects performed by teams of experienced MBAs from top-tier business schools.  Since 1990, CCT has helped over 170 Boston-area nonprofits, with more than 700  MBA alumni volunteering to address their most pressing business challenges.  Learn more about CCT at


About Boston City Singers

Boston City Singers was founded 23 years ago in the inner city neighborhood of Dorchester. Their vision is to transform the lives of inner city young people one voice at a time, inspiring and developing each heart to live with compassion in a world of differences.

They train and inspire the musician, student, and ambassador in each singer by providing the highest level of musical instruction and wide-ranging  performance opportunities to support personal development, celebrate diversity, and foster goodwill. Boston City Singers is proud to have 100% of those who graduate with them accepted to 4-year colleges and 96% have graduated on time thanks to their zeal, commitment and substantial scholarships.  This year, Boston City Singers graduates amassed over $300,000 in scholarships on the basis of staff support, recommendations and referrals.

To Speak Truth To Power: Why Boston Camerata Is Staging An 800-Year-Old Musical Theater Piece

Anne Azéma's earlier production of "Play of Daniel." (Courtesy Joel Cohen/WBUR)

WBUR — January 24, 2017
By Keith Powers

Feel like your world has been turned upside down? There’s music for that.

It’s a long way from the current topsy-turvy politics, to 12th-century clerics reminding the church establishment about the abuse of authority, but the intent remains the same: Speak truth to power.

The Boston Camerata, under the direction of Anne Azéma, has never been shy about its political views, and its upcoming presentation of the "Play of Daniel" at Boston’s Trinity Church offers an artistic and elegant way of continuing that practice.

The "Play of Daniel," an 800-year-old piece of musical theater, not only fits snugly into medieval performance history, but into modern musical history as well. Its revival in the 1950s by Noah Greenberg and his New York Pro Musica is generally considered the beginning of the historical performance movement in America.

The "Play of Daniel" has subsequently had many re-stagings, including two by the Camerata — a 1985 version directed by the group’s founder, Joel Cohen, and this staging, first presented in 2014 under the direction of Azéma, who succeeded Cohen as Camerata's artistic director a decade ago.

She went back to the manuscript, a beautiful document housed at the British Library, to re-think her own staging, which will be presented in Concord, New Hampshire, on Jan. 26, at Boston’s Trinity Church on Jan. 29, and will travel to St. Louis on Jan. 31.

Azéma herself narrates, and soloists include Jordan Weatherston Pitts (Daniel), Joel Frederiksen (Darius), Camila Parias (Queen) and Jason McStoots (Belshazzar). Michael Barrett, Dan Hershey, Donald Wilkinson and others fill secondary roles. Instrumentalists include Shira Kammen (vielle, harp) and Karim Nagi (percussion). Indrany Datta-Barua dances, and the Trinity Choristers, Boston City Singers and students from Longy School of Music also participate.

The first performances of "Daniel" took place in Beauvais, France, in the 13th century, during the year-end revels. These revels allowed the lowest ranks of church-goers to flip roles with the highest ranking church officials — a back-row chorister might be bishop for a day — and take a turn preaching.

The story poetically follows the narrative of Daniel in the Babylonian court of Belshazzar. Mysterious writing appears on the walls of Belshazzar’s palace; Daniel is brought forth to interpret, and foretells the fall of Babylon.

The story resonates strongly for those without power, who tell truth fearlessly. "That comes right out of the page," Azéma says, "it’s not me superimposing anything. It’s not the first time in human history where the mighty have fallen, and it won’t be the last."

Although "Daniel" stands as one of the earliest musical theater works ever staged, and the Camerata knows a thing or two about historically informed performance (the group did celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2014), Azéma was not looking to immerse audiences in medieval history.

"It’s not useful to pretend to be doing something medieval," she says of her staging. "Pointy hats and curly shoes don’t cut it for me. We make enlightened choices about the music, and more importantly we face the fact that we are men and women in 2017."

Most of the notated music in "Daniel" is monophonic — a single melodic line, without harmony or chords. In fact, the entire manuscript offers very few instructions to the performers.

"The music is simple — nothing grand about it. We even have some pieces where the public can sing along with us. The manuscript has some mentions of what one should do theatrically: where Belshazzar makes his entrance, how his nobles sing, how the king is very moved — moved to tears — at one point. But there are so many ways to look at these sources.

"We are also including our own prelude and postlude to the play,” she says. Most of that music, and the ideas about characters and staging, come from the same Beauvais source as the play itself.

Azéma's visual approach mirrors her ideas about the score and staging.

"There are practically no costumes," she says. "There are symbolic touches. Gestures are minimal, and when they do happen they come from the bank of medieval gestures that you will be able to see on the windows around you."

She refers here to Trinity Church, whose stained glass by John La Farge will be on display, and whose acoustics Azéma says "made it an obvious choice."

"We visited a lot of places in Boston, many of which we had been to before, just to refresh our memory,” she says. “The sound here is ideal. Speech and song have a clarity all over the audience area.

"For me, this is an echo of an echo. This is Boston looking at medieval architecture, and creating its own medieval American place. It forced me artistically to look at the core of everything that 'Daniel' is about."

Seen & Heard

Nano Interview with Jane Money of Boston City Singers
Massachusetts Cultural Council

Name: Jane Money
Organization: Boston City Singers
Title: Founding Artistic Director
Years in the Field: 30

What do you do at Boston City Singers?
I do pretty much everything! I conduct several of our choirs, including the most advanced, Tour Choir. I enjoy meeting with our donors, creating new arrangements of music with our outstanding staff (often based on folk songs or spirituals). I work on our grantwriting team, and conduct 5 of our 15 programs. And recommendations! Last year I wrote over 100 for our graduating seniors. We were delighted that they earned over $300,000 in scholarships.

Jane Money

Why do you do what you do?
At Boston City Singers we believe in supporting the upward trajectory of each of our singers.  There is nothing more rewarding than supporting the growth of a young person all the way through to college and beyond.

What comes easiest to you in this work?
I am passionate about excellent repertoire which speaks to the diversity of our singers and audiences.

What challenges you in this work?
As our work has continued to grow, we have been challenged to find rehearsal and performance space that is both safe and accessible in the communities we serve.

What does it mean to your community that you do this work?
We have always been based in Dorchester, MA. In our earliest years, potential partners, funders, and Board members would be turned off by that. Few would visit, and it was not always easy to be taken seriously. More than once we heard “You are from Dorchester? You can’t be any good…” Over time,  Dorchester has changed and continues to evolve into something far more positive. We like to think that we have been a part of that process.

How do you blow off steam?
Once a year, I go back home to New Zealand for a couple of weeks, where I walk the length of one local beach each day and cook for my brother and his family.

What do you create in your free time?
I am an avid knitter, home cook, and co-restorer of our Victorian home.

Whose work in the CYD field do you admire and why?
We have had a long relationship with the Corrymeela Centre in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. We led a choir project in Ireland in 2005 aimed at bringing children from both sides of the border together in song. One of the highlights was a residency at the Centre where I experienced first hand the power of creative youth development. We have worked closely with one of their volunteers ever since crafting leadership and youth development  programs across the organization.

What music do you like listen to (if even a little too loudly)?
The Brazilian singers Marisa Monte, anything Ella Fitzgerald and the Canadian choir Elektra.

Do you live with any animals?
I am a foster parent for New England Brittany Rescue. We adopted our first dog, Brady, three years ago. He is 12 now, but very active and an awesome host dog to our fosters.

The unauthorized biography of your life is titled:
Let’s find a way to make this happen!

What’s next?
My husband and I are visiting Cuba in February, meeting with local choirs, musicians and teachers, then off to South Africa with 40 members of the Tour Choir in the summer.

Cambridge Community Foundation announces fall grants

Cambridge Chronicle & TABDecember 13, 2016 — Grants addressing a wide range of issues touching the lives of local residents and the Cambridge community as a whole were announced by Cambridge Community Foundation's board of overseers at its Dec. 7 meeting.

One late addition to the list is a $10,000 grant to establish a fund in response to the fire that erupted in a neighborhood on Berkshire Street in the center of the city on Dec. 3. Called the Rebuilding Fund, it is designed to augment the city's efforts to help the more than 104 residents, 48 families, including 29 students at local schools who lost their homes. As the name suggests, the fund is provided to help those who were burned out rebuild their lives.

In addition to the Rebuilding Fund, the foundation's initiative grants including several new investments, including a three-year commitment to the BioBuilder Educational Foundation. This expands the foundation's commitment to creating pathways into the innovation economy for local youth, and to begin working with local partners, such as Biogen and Novartis. Students will be offered introductory experiences in their community labs, which will be extended through BioBuilder Learning Lab at LabCentral. A second initiative grant will support important work planned by new Cambridge School Superintendent Kenneth Salim, as he explores existing achievement gaps among Cambridge students….

Cambridge Children's Chorus: $3,500 to support programming for children from ages 4 through middle school, and collaboration with organizations throughout the metro area.

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