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Rochester Native Matt Griffo will Perform Nov. 19 at Keuka College

Comedian Matt Griffo will perform Nov. 19 at Keuka College.

Free and open to the public, the show begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Red Barn Theater.

Griffo, a ukulele player who grew up in Rochester, plays original comedic songs on piano and ukulele. Now living in Chicago, Griffo is also an actor and comedian who writes songs about such topics as the environment, love, and zombies. He performs at festivals across the country, has opened for Reggie Watts, and is the composer for the Chicago smash hit Jersey Shore The Musical.

In creating his songs, Griffo says that sometimes it starts with an idea, or a melody, or “sometimes it starts with serious song lyrics that I think sound too serious, and then it becomes a comedy song.”

Griffo picked up the ukulele as a child, when he thought his hands were not big enough for a guitar.

“My dad is a drummer and guitar player, and I wanted to play guitar,” said Griffo. “I tried when he wasn’t looking and thought my hands were so small I’d never be able to playing guitar. I clearly did not realize they would grow. I looked up ‘small guitar’ online and ‘ukulele’ came up in the results,” and he’s been playing it since then.

Griffo taught himself to play the piano when he was 12 using a how-to-play-piano songbook.

“I wasn’t very good, but I practiced a lot,” said Griffo. “Years later when I was in Chicago, I was playing piano in between classes and Mike Descoteaux [head of the music program for Second City Training Center and resident music director of the ETC Stage] asked if I’d like to learn how to become an improv music director. I freaked out, and said ‘yes.’ I then practiced a lot and got by on my ear for the majority of my playing ability.”

Griffo now trains at the ACM School of Music in Chicago.

Among his favorite performers are Tom Lehrer, Tim Minchin, Flight of The Conchords, and Stephen Lynch, as well as Chicago-based comedians Boaz Reisman and Crassus.

For videos, and more information about Griffo, click here.

The School for Lies is Keuka College Fall Theatrical Production

The brightest, wittiest salon in Paris, circa 1666, sets the scene for The School for Lies, the fall theatrical production at Keuka College.

The comedy, nearly 350 years in the making and written by David Ives, is a variation on Molière’s The Misanthrope. The story centers on Celimene, a beautiful young widow so known for her satiric tongue she’s being sued for it.

Directed by Professor of Theatre Mark Wenderlich, The School for Lies opens Friday, Oct. 16. The show begins at 8 p.m. in the Red Barn Theatre, with additional performances Saturday, Oct. 17 at 2 p.m., and Sunday, Oct.18 at 1 p.m. and again at 7 p.m. The performances are part of the College’s Green & Gold Celebration weekend.

Surrounded by shallow suitors whom Celimene lives off of without surrendering to, she has managed to evade love since her beloved husband died—until today, when Frank appears. A traveler from England known for his own coruscating wit and acidic misanthropy, Frank turns Celimene’s world upside-down, taking on her suitors, matching her barb for barb, and teaching her how to live again. Never mind that their love affair has been engineered by a couple of well-placed lies.

Mark Wenderlich

The School for Lies is a rambunctious, sexy, romp of a play,” said Wenderlich, who also serves as the play’s light technician.

Members of the cast include Michael Musolino (Philinte), a junior American Sign Language (ASL) major from Oneida; Dominick Koseba (Acaste), a freshman organizational communication major from Wayne; Brittany Johnson (Eliante), a freshman biology major from Lakawanna; Dontae Carter (Clitander), a freshman political science/history major from Rochester; and Philip Atherlay (Oronte), a senior exploratory major from Deposit.

The School for Lies also features several Keuka College alumni, including Kelsey Marquart ’12, who serves as the research and prospect manager at the College, who portrays Celimene; Logan Ackerley ’14 plays Frank; and Zakkarey Miller ’15, will interpret the characters Dubios and Basque.

Eileen Farr, a Penn Yan resident who has been in previous performances at the College, who serves on the board of the PENNsylvania YANkee Theatre Co. portrays Arsinoe.

Members of the crew include Katherine Baker (stage manager), a freshman ASL major from Glens Falls; Chelsea Laforme (assistant stage manager), a freshman biology major from Kenmore; Amelia Johnson (prop master), a freshman unified childhood education major from Penn Yan; Dylan Thomas (sound technician), a senior management major from Kent; and Breeanna Rothenburg (seamstress), a sophomore art and design major from Cato.

Ann Shepardson, who serves on the board of the PENNsylvania YANkee Theatre Co. and is a member of the Sampson Theatre Advisory Committee, serves as a seamstress for the production’s costumes.

Students taking the Theater 101 class will serve as ushers during the performances.

Tickets for the performances are $5 for Keuka College students, faculty, and staff and $10 for the general public. Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance by contacting Karen Reed at (315) 279-5674 or email Seating is limited. This play contains adult themes and is not recommended for children.

For more events during Green & Gold Weekend, visit

Nu Mu Chapter of Lambda Pi Eta Gains Three

Holding their certificates are newly inducted Lambda Pi Eta members Savannah Gibson, Anna Kramer, and Morgan Bruno. Behind them are Kathryn Zawisa, Amanda Markessinis, and Victoria Davis.

Three new members were recently inducted into the Nu Mu chapter of Lambda Pi Eta, the official communication studies honor society of the National Communication Association.

In a Sept. 29 ceremony, Savannah Gibson, Anna Kramer, and Morgan Bruno, all junior organizational communication majors, added their names to the official Lambda Pi Eta roster. Gibson hails from Rochester; Kramer from Boonville; and Bruno from Seneca Falls.

The other members of the College’s chapter of Lambda Pi Eta include seniors Victoria Davis (president), Amanda Markessinis, (vice president), and (Kathryn Zawisa), treasurer.

To be eligible for Lambda Pi Eta membership, a communication studies major or minor must have completed a minimum of 60 credit hours and 12 credits in communication studies courses, a GPA in communication studies courses of at least 3.25, and a GPA of at least 3.0.

Keuka College’s Spotlight Series Continues Oct. 8

Keuka College’s 2015-16 Spotlight Series continues Thursday, Oct. 8 with a poetry reading by Joan Murray.

The reading, free and open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. in Hegeman Hall room 109.

A repeat guest on NPR’s Morning Edition, Murray is a poet, writer, and playwright, whose books include Swimming for the Ark: New & Selected Poems 1990-2015, Looking for the Parade, Dancing on the Edge, Queen of the Mist, and The Same Water. 

She has contributed poetry, fiction, and essays to such journals as The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, The Nation, The New York Times, the Paris Review, Poetry, the Sun, the Village Voice, and anthologies including The Best American Poetry and The Pushcart Prize.

Murray is a National Poetry Series Winner, a two-time National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship Winner, a Wesleyan New Poets Series Winner, and Winner of Poetry Society of America’s Gordon Barber Award.

The editor of The Pushcart Book of Poetry and the Poems to Live By anthologies, Murray was commissioned by Broadway’s Jujamcyn Theatres, and invited by L.A.’s Mark Taper Forum, to develop Queen of the Mist for the stage. Murray has served as poet-in-residence at the New York State Writers Institute, and has given readings and workshops at myriad universities and cultural centers, including the Chautauqua Institution, the International Poetry Forum, and the Lark Theatre in Manhattan.

Walker and Simkin Open the 2015-16 Spotlight Series

Keuka College’s 2015-16 Spotlight Series will begin Saturday, Sept. 26 with a concert by Nicholas Walker and Elizabeth Simkin.

The performance, free and open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. in Norton Chapel.

The concert will feature original music by Walker, which the duo has work-shopped into an hour-long, programmatic set. Their collaborative music partnership spans a decade, and includes duo recitals, chamber music, early music, contemporary music, and orchestral music.

Walker, double bassist and composer, and Simkin, who plays cello, both serve as associate professors of performance studies at Ithaca College.

Simkin earned a doctorate at Indiana University Bloomington, and prior to her position at Ithaca College, served on the faculty at such institutions as Earlham College and the Eastman School of Music. She has also served as a teaching assistant to Janos Starker, with whom she studies.

She has played with the Richmond Symphony Orchestra, Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, and the Buffalo Chamber Orchestra, among others. A fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center, Simkin serves as a U.S. artistic ambassador at international recitals.

Walker earned a doctoral degree at Stony Brook University, has toured with swing era saxophone legend Illinois Jacquet, played with jazz master Wynton Marsalis, and has worked closely with François Rabbath.

He has given solo bass recitals on four continents, and has performed at music festivals worldwide. An active chamber musician, he is a member of the multi-media ensemble Ardesco, and, along with Simkin, Ensemble X. Walker has performed with the Handel and Haydn Society Orchestra, the Oslo Philharmonic, and the National Arts Center Orchestra of Canada.

In 2013, the International Society of Bassists (ISB) commissioned his composition, Chorale, for its international solo competition. Walker has performed with the Cornell Chamber Orchestra, the Berlin Double Bass Festival, the Kaleidoskop Double Bass Festival in Germany, and the International Double Bass Festival in Beijing, China.

Prior to teaching at Ithaca College, Walker served on the faculty of the Stony Brook Pre-College Program, the Music Conservatory of Westchester, and Mansfield University.