Holiday Vespers — A Venerable College Tradition

A candelight procession opens the annual Vespers concert.

Start your holiday season on a high note at this cherished campus tradition, featuring choral works from many cultures, plus holiday jazz selections—a treat for the soul and the senses.

MHC Choral and Jazz Ensembles join forces for our traditional holiday vespers, including the annual community carol-sing and candlelight procession in the College's beautiful Abbey Chapel.  Stephanie Council, Director of Choral Activities; Mark Gionfriddo, Director of the Jazz Ensembles. Free and open to the public.  Doors open 35 minutes prior to the concert start time.

Stephanie Council

Director of Choral Activities

Stephanie Council

Stephanie Council conducts the Glee Club, Chorale, and Chamber Singers. Stephanie is passionate about choral pedagogy, specifically the development of individual music literacy and building collective sound in the choral ensemble context. She is developing a sequential curriculum of sound building exercises and exploring the impact of conducting gestures on vocal production. Stephanie academic specialties include choral conducting and early music performance practice. Her research centered around the text painting in the five-voice settings of the Lamentations of Jeremiah by Orlande de Lassus.

Mark Gionfriddo

Director of Jazz Ensembles and instructor of Music

Mark Gionfriddo is well known to Western Massachusetts concertgoers as an accomplished 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, Samuel Baron and Garrison Keillor.

A native of Holyoke, MA, Mr. Gionfriddo started piano studies at the age of four, began performing at six, and directed his first musical project at twelve. He has since directed numerous area community, high school and prep school productions [Beehive and Some Enchanted Evening, Stage West/CityStage; Sweeney Todd, Williston Theatre; and Cabaret and Jacques Brel Is Alive And Well, MHC Theatre Arts are recent examples.] His adventures while assistant conductor on board Cunard's MS Royal Viking Sun brought him around the world to 30 countries.

Mr. Gionfriddo received his Bachelor's Degree in Piano from Skidmore College and Masters 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, Director and Founder of the Mount Holyoke College Jazz Ensemble, and Music Department Staff Accompanist.

His classical and jazz arrangements, both vocal and instrumental, have been premiered in Boston, New York City, New Orleans, Nashville and Washington DC by the Mount Holyoke Glee Club, the Hampshire College Chorus, and the Hampshire Choral Society of Northampton MA. His two-piano arrangements of the orchestral suites from Bizet’s Carmen were featured on National Public Radio's "Performance Today".

In October of 2006, Mr. Gionfriddo conducted the MHC Big Band during two episodes of the popular NPR quiz show “Says You!”