Friday, February 12, 2016

Media Release: The Big Broadcast at Mount Holyoke College on March 6

DATELINE: February 12, 2016


The Jazz Ensembles of Mount Holyoke College present the 11th edition of "The Big Broadcast!" on Sunday, March 6 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 re-creation 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.

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.

“Preparation for the show began in January when my students and I researched live radio broadcasts of the 1940's: big band swing music, those great radio serials, and the commercials of the day," said Gionfriddo.“We incorporate all of those elements into our production to give the audience the feel of an authentic radio variety program on a fictitious station named WJAZ."

"This year, much of what we're presenting is all new material to our event,” says Gionfriddo. “We’ll be featuring some big hits of the 1940s, as performed by the top singers of the day, including The Andrews Sisters ("Tico Tico" and "I've Got A Guy In Kalamazoo"), and Anita O'Day with Gene Krupa ("Massachusetts"), in combination with tunes from the famous bands of the day, like Glenn Miller ("Little Brown Jug") and Benny Goodman ("Camel Hop"). You'll also hear authentic radio commercials from the 1940s, and our western yarn written by the students, "A Blaze of Justice" complete with sound effects from our resident foley artist, Cheryl Cobb, a visiting lecturer in voice at Mount Holyoke College.” 

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 Berkshire Theatre Group in Stockbridge and Pittsfield  MA during the summer, and has recently served in that capacity for productions of "Peter Pan", "A Class Act", "Seussical", "Mary Poppins", 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 9th season as WJAZ announcer and emcee “Fred Kelley”. In 2013, the National Weather Association named Brian “Broadcaster of the Year".

Brian loves performing as “Fred Kelley”. “The combination of the opportunity for me to perform, the creative energy of the students and Mark Gionfriddo, and the great music makes this far and away my favorite event of the year," he said.  "As a 'student of broadcasting’, I am one who appreciates the “golden age” of radio and just how hugely popular these variety shows were in their day.  I’d like to believe if I were around  back in the 1940s, that I would have a gig like Fred Kelley’s." 

The cast includes the following Mount Holyoke students (with hometowns in parentheses): Uulen Bayanmunkh (Mongolia), Ana Berthel (Mendham, NJ),  Phoebe Blaisdell (South Hadley, MA), Ione Brogna (Boxford, MA), Bayu Chen (Changzhou, China), Shannon Cook (Santa Rosa, CA), Sarah Carter (Pulth, MN), Shelby DeSarno (Sayreville, NJ),  Zarina Dyussenbekova (Brooklyn, NY), Violet Fortier (Doylestown, PA), Rebekah Jakola (Yorktown, VA), Maddie Lindsey (Chicago, IL), Maria McTeigue (Los Alamos, NM), Yujing Ming (Bejing, China), Rebecca Pittel Austin, TX), Sarah Read (Schnectady, NY), Emma Shooshan (Newington, CT), Chynna Taylor (Ewing, NJ), Jami Tuttle (Newbury, VT), Autumn Welch  (Manchester, NH), and Emily Wrobleski (Falmouth, ME).

Two Hampshire College students, Ben Fitts (Bronx, NY) and Jonathan Friedman (Deerfield, MA), plus Brenda Njoroge (Nairobi, Kenya) from Smith College complete the cast. 

Performance sponsors of "The Big Broadcast!" are:  Mount Holyoke College, 
Loomis Communities, New England Public Radio, The Republican Newspapers and WWLP-22News.

Tickets (general admission): $20.00 premium front and center seating.$15.00 regular seating. $10.00 seniors and students. Tickets are on sale at The Odyssey Book Shop, Village Commons, South Hadley; the UMass Fine Arts Center Box Office; and at the door (subject to availability). For advance phone orders, call 413-545-2511 or 800-999-UMASS. Doors open one hour prior to each performance.

For information on The Jazz Ensembles of Mount Holyoke College:


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