Each of these individuals roamed into the office of Litchfield Performing Arts, then on the Green in Litchfield, with offers of help for the fledgling festival in 1996. Vita Muir, the organization’s and the festival’s founder, asked them what their skills were and what they’d like to help with and the universal answer was, “Anything. Everything.”
Mike Boscarino, then a student at UConn and later a reservist in the National Guard, became a signmaker and chief “engineer” for the fest. To this day, if it’s broken he can fix it and, even better, scrounge up material to do the job from anywhere and fast. He keeps an assortment of oddments in his garage to satisfy any occasion. No lights on the paintings in the art tent? No problem. It took Mike about 90 minutes to jury-rig trusses and the perfect spotlights. Mike arranged his leave from his active service in Iraq during his three tours of duty to correspond with the festival. Someone asked him what repairing helicopters in Iraq was like. He answered, “Like the Litchfield Jazz Festival, but every day!”
Abram Sirgnano was a summer employee at the former Superior Market in Litchfield. He crossed the Litchfield Green one day with peanut butter cookies and an offer of assistance. When Lindsey Turner, daughter of Festival Founder Vita Muir asked Abram about that first meeting, he said, “I've always been fascinated by people with vision, and wanted to help this woman who had it in spades.”
That first year, with Ahmad Jamal, the unknown Diana Krall, the great trombonist J.J. Johnson and other luminaries on the festival, there was no money left over for a night watchman to guard the loaner Steinway grand. “Not to worry,” said Abram, “I’ll sleep under it.” And he did for two summers in a row! Several years later he became Stage Manager, the man who makes sure everything on-stage works and works on time—a trust he approaches with a near-religious zeal. He has held that position ever since to the delight of the professional sound crew and our Host/MC Michael Bourne who pronounced him “the best stage manager we have ever worked with.” Why does he keep coming back all these years later? “Because my role at the Festival is simultaneously a challenge and an utter joy,” Abram answered. He is now an executive for Uniworld Group in New York but makes time to come with his wife and two young children to the fest every year. [READ A FULL INTERVIEW WITH ABRAM ABOUT HIS EXPERIENCE AS A VOLUNTEER AT THE JAZZ FESTIVAL SINCE 1996.]
Marty Connor was the Zoning Enforcement Officer for the town of Litchfield and an avid jazz fan when he popped into the LPA office in ‘96. He knew the organization from its decade and an half of presenting classical music and was excited to help. Marty took over organizing of hospitality for festival artists that year and for many years after. He now serves as an usher for the three days of performances, this year at Goshen Fairgrounds August 10, 11, and 12. A brief presentation will honor the three for their extraordinary service to a program they love.
Volunteers are still needed for the festival. To volunteer sign-up here or call our volunteer coordinator Lilly King at 860-361-6285. To buy tickets for Jazz Fest weekend visit our buy tickets page here.
Photo of Abram Sirignano and his children backstage at the 2011 Litchfield Jazz Festival by Nathan Turner (who happens to be Abe's best friend, a long time festival volunteer himself, and is married to LPA's PR & Marketing Director, Lindsey Turner). Needless to say, the Festival is truly a "family affair!"