Jazz Ensembles Present The Big Broadcast!

Posted: February 20, 2007

Updated: March 15, 2007, View the images, watch the video, listen to the audio clip

On Sunday, March 4, Chapin Auditorium at Mount Holyoke College will once again transform into the studio of fictitious radio station WJAZ, circa 1941. The Jazz Ensembles of Mount Holyoke College, under the direction of Mark Gionfriddo, will present their second annual radio variety show, The Big Broadcast! Due to popular demand, the Jazz Ensembles will be featured in two shows--a matinee at 2 pm and an evening performance at 7:30 pm.

The show will feature popular tunes from the era, including music by Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and Artie Shaw. Commercials will be re-created as they were originally heard, and a Nancy Drew-style murder mystery written by students will be a highlight of the second act. All of this will be done in full theatrical fashion, with characters, costumes, makeup, lights, and sound. Dan Elias, WWLP 22 news anchor, will return as announcer "Bob Graham." Cheryl Cobb, visiting lecturer in music, will provide sound effects. The event is sponsored by WFCR 88.5 FM, NPR News and Music for Western New England.

Gionfriddo, director of Jazz Ensembles and Catholic music director and instructor at Mount Holyoke, decided last year that the College's jazz performance program he founded eight years ago was ready to try something new. To everyone's surprise, the single Sunday afternoon performance packed Chapin Auditorium. "We had such an amazing response to this project last year from both the students and the community at large that it was simply a no-brainer to bring it back," Gionfriddo said.

Planning for the event began during January Term, when Gionfriddo taught a class about all of the aspects of putting such a show together. Students, who became associate producers, immersed themselves in the musical culture of the 1940s by watching period movies, listening to transcripts of actual radio broadcasts, and researching every possible detail, from hairstyles, clothing, and makeup to typical radio dialogue, historical events, and commercials of the day.

Maggie Sayre '07, president of Big Band, said, "Last year's Big Broadcast! was all about taking our talents in a new and different direction. This year we have more experience and can go even further and make this 'broadcast' even better."

Tickets for the performance are $10 for general admission and $5 for students and senior citizens and will be available starting February 26 at the music department in Pratt Hall or by calling 413-538-2306. Tickets will also be sold at the door before each performance.

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Photo Gallery - 2006 Performance