MHC Jazz Ensembles Present The Big Broadcast!

On Sunday, March 12, Chapin Auditorium at Mount Holyoke College will transform into the fictitious radio station WJAZ, circa 1940. At 2 pm, the Jazz Ensembles of Mount Holyoke College, under the direction of Mark Gionfriddo, will present a radio variety show typical of its day. The Big Broadcast! will feature popular tunes from the era, including music by Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, and Benny Goodman. Commercials will be re-created as they were originally heard, and there will even be a "Western adventure," written by the students. All of this will be done in full theatrical fashion, with characters, costumes, makeup, lights, and sound. Dan Elias, WWLP 22 news anchor, will be the announcer for the show.

Gionfriddo, director of jazz ensembles and Catholic music director and instructor at Mount Holyoke, has re-created historically accurate radio shows in the past with a cabaret group he directed about 16 years ago. "I have wanted to tackle such a production here at MHC for some time. Students in the music department are experiencing a growing interest in musical theatre, and I felt that our jazz performance program had progressed to the level at which we could finally attempt it," Gionfriddo said.

Planning for the event began during January Term, when Gionfriddo taught a class about the aspects of putting such a show together. The class watched period movies, listened to transcripts of actual broadcasts, and researched everything from hairstyles to commercials of the day. Gionfriddo also wrote a station ID jingle and transcribed musical arrangements and incidental pieces to further capture the flavor of the typical 1940s radio show.

Emily Castle '06, president of Vocal Jazz, is the production manager of the show. "While I have seen many impressive concerts come and go, this one will trump them all," she said. "This project has been such an exciting process; Mark has generously allowed me involvement in everything from the audition process to the stage setting to the costuming. And now I can't wait to bring it to life on stage. This will truly be a memorable show and probably the highlight of my four years in Vocal Jazz."

Tickets for the performance are $5 for general admission and $3 for students and senior citizens and are available through March 10 at the music department in Pratt Hall or by calling (413) 538-2306. Tickets will also be sold at the door the day of the performance.

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