Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Media Release: Jazz Ensembles of Mount Holyoke College 10th "Big Broadcast!"

DATELINE: February 12, 2015

Mark G. Auerbach
Mark G. Auerbach Public Relations
413-733-7095 or 413-427-7352


Madelyn Gardner
Berkshire Theatre Group
413-447-8084 ext  15


The Jazz Ensembles of Mount Holyoke College present the 10th edition of The Big Broadcast ! on Sunday, March 8, at 2PM & 7PM at Chapin Auditorium, Mount Holyoke College, in South Hadley, MA. “The Big Broadcast”, directed by Mark Gionfriddo (onstage as “Matt Morgan”), is a recreation of a live 1940's radio show, and features WWLP-TV meteorologist Brian Lapis as emcee “Fred Kelley”. The Mount Holyoke Big Band, Vocal Jazz, and Chamber Jazz Ensembles perform well-known tunes from the swing era and the American songbook. 

The Big Broadcast ! will also travel to the Berkshire Theatre Group’s Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield for a benefit performance on Friday, March 13 at 7PM.  In Pittsfield, the  performance supports BTG PLAYS!. Education and training programs are a fundamental component of Berkshire Theatre Group's mission to serve the  community. Berkshire Theatre Group is one of the largest and most exciting arts organizations in Berkshire County. Created by the merger of two of the oldest Berkshire County establishments, Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge and The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, it presents the finest in theatre, music and the performing arts. For more information, please visit http://www.berkshiretheatregroup.org/.

Mount Holyoke College music faculty member Mark Gionfriddo originally created The Big Broadcast ! for a small cabaret group he directed, and incorporated it into the concert season at Mount Holyoke College.

“My students and I researched live radio broadcasts of the 1940s: the big band swing music, the radio serials and the commercials of the day," said Gionfriddo. “We incorporate all of these elements into our production to give the audience the feel of an authentic radio variety program on a fictitious station named WJAZ."

"This year's The Big Broadcast ! features a lot of new material, plus audience favorites from the last nine years,” says Gionfriddo. “We’ve got authentic  radio commercials from the 1940s, radio drama with sound effects, and music by George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Dizzy Gillespie, and The Andrews Sisters. Some of the musical numbers include “Our Love Is Here To Stay”, “The American Patrol”, “Coins for My Country” and “Bounce Me Brother With A Solid Four”. 

Mark Gionfriddo (“Matt Morgan”) is well known to area concertgoers as pianist, accompanist, composer, arranger, and musical director. His versatility and knowledge of many musical styles has brought him together with a wide range of popular and classical artists through the years, among them Mitzi Gaynor, Liberace, Al Martino, Anna Moffo, and Garrison Keillor. Mark's adventures while assistant conductor on board Cunard's MS Royal Viking Sun brought him around the world to 30 countries. Mark received his Bachelor's Degree in Piano from Skidmore College and Master's Degree in Accompanying from UMASS/Amherst.

He has been based at Mount Holyoke College since 1986 where he is a Senior Instructor in Jazz Piano as well as Director and Founder of the Jazz Ensembles. In 2006, Mark conducted the MHC Big Band during two episodes of the popular public radio quiz show “Says You!”.  He is also a music director at the the Berkshire Theatre Group during the summer, and has recently served in that capacity for productions of "Peter Pan", "A Class Act", "Seussical: the Musical" and the Neil Ellenoff Musical Mondays series.. 

Brian Lapis ("Fred Kelley") joined the 22News Storm Team in 1996. He got his start in broadcasting at the age of 15 at radio station WILI, in his hometown of Willimantic, CT. He's worked as a radio on-air talent for stations in Hartford, CT; Philadelphia, PA; Syracuse, NY; and Providence, RI. Brian has a Bachelor's degree in Television Radio Film Management from Syracuse University. In addition, he holds a certificate in Broadcast Meteorology from Mississippi State University. This is his 8th season as WJAZ announcer and emcee “Fred Kelley”. In 2013, the National Weather Association named Brian “Broadcaster of the Year".

The cast includes the following Mount Holyoke students (with hometowns in parantheses): Isabella Barden (Huntington, MA);  Ione Brogna (Topsfield, MA); Cara Cantwell (Berkeley, CA); Sarah Carter (Duluth, MN); Rachel Chambers (Saratoga, CA); Marissa Cohen (Milford, NJ); Shannon Cook, Santa Rosa, CA), Raychelle Dunn (Miami, FL); Sarah Ellis (Brattleboro, VT); Violet Fortier (Doylestown, PA); Annika Glass-Juetten (Iowa City, IA); Annie Hawkes (Lincoln, MA). Shell Lin (Beijing, China); Maddie Lindsey (Chicago, IL); Junyan Julie Liu (LeHavre, France); Meredith Marshall (Chichester, NH);  Jaleh McTeague (Richlands, VA);  Yujing (Hilary) Ming, (Beijing, China);  Abigail North (Boulder, CO), Sarah Read (Glenville, NY);  Kareen Reed (Enfield, CT); Estefania Reyes-Bricio  (Guadalajara, Mexico);  Megan Schwartzmeyer (Elba, NY); Kathleen Toomey (Huntington, MA); Victoria Turnbill (McLean, VA); Olivia Walsh (Katonah, NY); Sarah Watkins (Brevard, NC); Amy Welch (Andover, MA);  Jacqueline Yeung (Hong Kong, China); Ziyi (Zoe) Yiang (Dalian, China), and Elizabeth Yuu (Reading, MA).

Sponsors of The Big Broadcast ! performances in South Hadley are:  Mount Holyoke College, Baystate Medical Practices, Peoples Bank, Loomis Communities, New England Public Radio, The Westfield News Group, and WWLP-22News.

Tickets for the South Hadley performances of  The Big Broadcast ! are general admission. $20.00 premium front and center seating. $15.00 regular seating. $10.00 seniors and students. Tickets are available at the UMASS Fine Arts Center Box-Office in Amherst, at the Odyssey Bookshop, Village Commons, South Hadley, and at the door (subject to availability).  For phone orders: 413-545-2511 or 1-800-999-UMASS. For online orders: https://fac.umass.edu/Online/MHC

Tickets for the Pittsfield performance The Big Broadcast !  are $15 for adults and $10.00 for students  Tickets are available at The Colonial Theatre Ticket Office, 11 South Street, Pittsfield, MA, by phone at 413-997-4444 and online at : http://www.berkshiretheatregroup.org/


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