By Amanda Lehnerd
Administrators and the community at large raised a toast to mark 25 years of existence for the John J. McDonough Museum of Modern Art.
The McDonough hosted its 21st annual Mad About The Arts event Friday night. The event showcased Youngstown State University’s Jazz Ensemble along with many local food vendors.
Mad About The Arts benefits the McDonough Museum of Art, YSU’s Center for Contemporary Ideas, Art, Education and Community along with WYSU 88.5 FM, the Valley’s listener-supported public radio station.
YSU’s Jazz Ensemble has been performing at Mad About the Arts for the past four years. The ensemble, founded in 1969, has earned honors and awards for big band and small group competitions.
Students performing in Jazz Ensemble range from first-year freshman to second year graduate students.
Ensemble director Kent Engelhardt explained that to prepare for Mad About the Arts the students had to learn 20 different pieces of music.
“Our students don’t always have the opportunity to do big band jazz music within their four years in the program,” Engelhardt said. “I told the students we were going to learn 20 pieces of music, so we are prepared to play what music best fits the crowd attending.”
According to Engelhardt, he has observed the crowd that attends Mad About the Arts for the past four years and has come to learn that some are an older crowd that really appreciates the art of traditional big band jazz music.
Not only did the Jazz Ensemble play music, featured singer and clarinet major Jordan Mastrangelo performed.
“Mastrangelo had come to me a couple years ago and asked me if there would ever be an opportunity for her to sing,” Engelhardt said. “I felt this would be the perfect opportunity to have her sing a few tunes and let the audience relate to the song and get attached to the lyric.”
Mad About the Arts is a large supporter of the YSU Jazz Ensemble. Each year they contribute funds to the Jazz Visitors Fund. The Jazz Visitors fund was established by Harry Meshel in 2011 to help bring regional and national touring musicians to YSU.
“The Jazz Visitors Fund allows us to bring professional jazz musicians from the region and all over the country here to YSU,” Engelhardt said. “We have had people from New York and Chicago come in and play for the students and teach the students while they are here.”
The evening not only consisted of music from the YSU Jazz Ensemble, there was an array of food and wine vendors spread across the halls of the McDonough Museum of Art.
First-year attendee Cheryl Green had heard about the event from her friend Natalie Scott.
“I have listened to Scott talk about what a great event Mad About the Arts is for years, and I decided that I wanted to experience it for myself,” Green said. “ I was really excited to have a chance to see the YSU Jazz Ensemble preform and be able to try food from many local venders.”
After the Jazz Ensemble cleared the floor, The Sensations, a local band, began to set up to play dance music for the remainder of the night. Two YSU Alumni Michael and Marilyn Reichert have attended the event every year since it began.
“We always come to the event. We look forward to the music and food and socialization it provides every year,” The Reichert’s said. “We love to support the local art community and YSU.”