What instruments play in the Big Band and Chamber Jazz Ensembles?

The standard jazz instrumentation: Alto, Tenor and Baritone Saxophone; Trumpet & Trombone; Clarinet; Piano, Guitar, Acoustic/Electric Bass, & Drum Set.

How many concerts will I play in a semester?

Each Ensemble performs in two concerts per semester, one of them being at the end of the term. We also put on our annual "Big Broadcast!" performance every year in the spring. There are occasionally extra performances on or off campus, such as the Five College Jazz Festival.

How do I get into an Ensemble?

Auditions are really painless! You can bring in a tune or song with which you are comfortable. More advanced musicians are asked to sight-read a passage of music.

Are these groups extra curricular activities, or can I get credit for joining?

Members receive 1 credit per semester. Although we are also listed as student organizations, the Jazz Ensembles are bonafide Music Department ensembles.

Do any of the Ensembles ever tour?

Yes! This year, Chamber & Vocal Jazz performed in NYC during the holiday season. We are working towards the eventual goal of giving all three Ensembles the chance to tour over the course of a student's four years at MHC.

Are there solo opportunities available in the Ensembles?

Yes, there are many in Big Band and Chamber Jazz. There are also plenty of solos in Vocal Jazz, and each semester Vocal Jazzers audition for the chance to sing special solos with the Big Band and Chamber Jazz.

Are there leadership opportunities available in the Ensembles?

Yes, there are! We have a 12 member Jazz Board to coordinate important tasks such as management, equipment setup, recruitment of new members, concert publicity, website management and social event planning.

I am a prospective MHC student and would love to hear the group rehearse. Is that possible?

Yes! Be sure to let the Admissions Office know that you are interested in the Jazz Ensembles, and they will notify Mark Gionfriddo of your interest. You can also email him directly to set up an appointment to meet when you visit the campus.

Can I get private jazz lessons on my instrument while at MHC?

Yes, you can. Some teachers are on campus, and others teach at one of the nearby Five College campuses. If you are interested in Jazz Piano, Mark Gionfriddo teaches at Mount Holyoke. To get information on other instruments, email Michele Scanlon, Music Department Assistant, for more information.

Music Department | Mount Holyoke College
This page was last updated on January 23, 2013.
Content © Jazz Ensembles of Mount Holyoke College | Photographs © Frederick J. LeBlanc