Entertainment 2018

Special thanks to Natalie Marrone for organizing the entertainment

(performer bios below schedule)

Festa MC - Loreins "Larry" Vellani di Mebanesville maestro di cerimonie


Italian Music

DJ Gino


Italian Folk Music



Blessing Benvenuti - Father Dan with Fran Giannuzzi

A moment of peace in honor of our Italian ancestors

Poetry Reading

“Ave Maria” performed by Larry Vellani and Mebanesville


Bel Canto Style Neopolitan Classics

Chuck Beard accompanied by Dr. Charles Hogan 


Tarantella Dances of Southern Italy and Lesson

Natalie Marrone and The Dance Cure


Italian Folk Music



Jovanotti Flash Mob

Ron West choreographs


Tarantella Dances of Southern Italy and Lesson

Natalie Marrone and The Dance Cure


Durham Jazz Orchestra conducted by Michael Butrico


Nessun Dorma by Puccini, Barber of Seville Overture by Rossini

Classical Pianists Robert Buxton and Dr. Shoko Abe:


Duet from La Boheme, O Mio Babbino Caro, and solo from Macagni

Opera Singers Arielle Reed and Tenor Mitchener Howell

Accompanied by Robert Buxton and Dr. Shoko Abe

Performer Bios

DJ Gino Serricchio - From his humble beginnings in Isernia, Italy, Gino came to the United States when he was 15 years old. DJ Gino has been in the music industry for over 30 years. He started out as a drummer in a band, Black Diamond, while he lived in Florida. When he moved to North Carolina he became DJ Gino, a profession that he has been active in for over 20 years. In his free time Gino enjoys spending time with his wife and two kids, playing bocce and foosball, and still finds time to play the drums every once in a while.


Ron West, choreographer Flash Mob: is the eyes, body and creative force behind the avant garde movement company, BLACK IRISH. Through movement his goal is to create dance works that encourage conversations and connect bridges between all people regardless of gender, race, religion, sexuality or ability. He has spent time across the state of North Carolina in public and private sectors teaching students of all abilities, as well as in China as a diplomat for the U.S. State Department in disabilities advocacy. He lives and creates by this motto, "Your differences are not weaknesses, but strengths."


Natalie Marrone and The Dance Cure’s work on Italian folk traditions and folk fusion choreography started in 1998. Since that time, the group has been seen in national commercials, live television events, Dance Magazine, The American Dance Festival and presented internationally in Europe and Asia. In 2015, Ms. Marrone’s choreography was featured in a new film entitled Alto starring Annabella Sciorra and Diana DeGarmo.  The film has won awards including audience choice in NYC Tribecca VisionFest 2015, The Barcelona Film Festival, San Francisco Frameline and the downtown Los Angeles film festival. Marrone is an avid proponent of vernacular dance and ritual forms, and in 2018 was invited to give a talk in NYC at the Calandra Institute for Italian Studies.  She has taught at Universities all over the country and still occasionally teaches at Duke when not conducting her real estate transaction. 


Mebanesville has brought the best in roots, rhythm, and world music--especially musica italiana popolare e moderna-- to audiences at some of the most popular clubs, wineries, restaurants, and concert stages, as well as universities and community organizations, in the Triangle and Triad of North Carolina, and beyond. Mebanesville co-founder and FESTA EMCEE, Loreins “Larry” Vellani, is the immediate descendant of Reggio Emilian (Arşân ed Rèz) emigrants. Larry began collecting melodies and lyrics from his family, and later friends and professional musical influences, reflective of the reality of the uprooted and resettled. Growing up in the Hilltop Community of Columbus, Ohio, Larry learned how to sing in Latin and Italian before he could read in English. Both Larry and his fellow musician, Mebanesville co-founder, and spouse, Peggy Boswell, along with their children, are citizens of the Republic of Italy, as well as the United States. Larry was humbled and honored to be recognized in October 2017 as the Outstanding Italian American of the Year in North Carolina, for his work in preserving and performing Italian music, by the Triangle Sons of Italy (TSOI), the largest, longest-established organization for men and women of Italian heritage in North Carolina.

The Durham Jazz Orchestra is a full big band based out of Durham, NC. The ensemble is made up of dedicated and talented community members from around the Triangle and enjoys an active performance schedule. From straight-ahead swing to the blues, DJO has a reputation of a well-polished group. For further information contact Michael Butrico, Durham Jazz Orchestra's director since 2017, durhamjazzorchestra@gmail.com

Dr. Shoko Abe,  is a deeply committed collaborative pianist. She completed the Doctorate of Musical Arts degree in Collaborative Piano at the University of North Texas, where she studied with Steven Harlos and Elvia Puccinelli. Her dissertation involved lesser known Argentine vocal repertoire. Previously, she studied at the Showa University of Music in Tokyo with On Mitani, completing Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Piano Performance. Her Master’s thesis was on Tchaikovsky’s Piano Music, with an analysis of “The Seasons.” At Showa, she worked as a Teaching Assistant in music history and chamber music, and graduated with High Honors.Shoko and Robert Buxton, her husband perform numerous concerts together, both in Japan and in the United States. Shoko has a large vocal and instrumental repertoire.  She now serves as the Director of Music at Hawfields Presbyterian Church in Mebane, NC.


Dr. Robert Buxton, pianist, seeks to bring music from the past to life for people today through performing and teaching. Robert completed a D.M.A in Piano Performance at the University of North Texas in 2018, where he also received an M.M., studying with Vladimir Viardo. Previously, he studied with Solomon Mikowsky at the Manhattan School of Music, where he received a B.M. degree, and attended the Precollege. He has performed as a soloist and chamber musician in a number of venues; in New York, at Symphony Space, the YIVO institute, Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, The Spanish Consulate, and Steinway Hall, in Europe, at the Scuola di Musica in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana (Lucca, Italy), and the Maison Erard (Amsterdam, Netherlands), and in Japan, in Sakata, Yamagata Prefecture, Kyoto, and Tokyo. Interviews and recordings of his playing have been featured on major classical radio stations in New York and Kyoto. He is on the piano faculty at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, runs a private piano studio, and is music director at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Durham, NC.


Charles Hogan is pianist, organist, choirmaster, professor, composer, collaborator and conductor. He received his Doctor of Musical Arts from Cincinnati's College - Conservatory of Music. He has been hailed by Classical Voice North Carolina for his "breathtaking" performances and Voix des Artes as " sensitive but red-blooded."


Ariel Reed, Soprano-Opera credits include Nedda in I Pagliacci, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Suzel in L’amico Fritz, and Laetitia in The Old Maid and the Thief with the Triangle Opera Studio, Gianetta in L’eslisir d’amore with Capital Opera, title roles Little Red Riding Hood with Triangle Opera and Gretel from Hansel and Gretel with Peabody Opera, the Florida State Opera, and Capital Opera’s Outreach program, as well as Mrs. Gobineau in Long Leaf Opera’s 2002 and 2008 productions of The Medium. Ms. Reed has recorded a CD, Tangos y Canciones, and performs frequently in the area with her father, classical guitarist, Randy Reed. Oratorio credits range from Baroque to contemporary and include Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem, Arvo Pärt’s Berliner Messe, and Bach’s Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht (BWV211). Ms. Reed has performed nationally and internationally as soloist at the Aspen Music Festival, the Franz Schubert Institut, the Lake Placid Institute and the Oberlin Baroque Performance Institute and with ensembles such as the Cantores Musicae Antiquae of Florida State University, Duke University Collegium, and Peabody Renaissance Ensemble.  Ms. Reed is performed as part of North Carolina Opera’s outreach program in the schools and about the town for many years from about 2004-2010.


Mitchener Howell, Tenor is a native of Durham, NC and a product of Durham Public Schools. He graduated from Yale University, where he founded the Yale College Opera Company. He served many roles with this company, organizing and directing its well-received inaugural production, Handel's Giulio Cesare.

Howell then focused on performing, and had several notable successes during his tenure at Yale including the role of Astolf in Schubert's rarely performed opera Die Verschworenen, featured soloist on the Yale Glee Club's European tour, and the role of the Duke of Dunstable in Gilbert and Sullivan's farcical opera Patience. He participated in master classes with guest artists including renowned baritone William Warfield, soprano Virginia Zeani, tenor Jerry Hadley, and opera and musical theater composer Adam Guettel. In 2004 Howell had the honor of soloing for Richard Brodhead’s inauguration as president of Duke University. He went on to earn his master's degree from the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver in 2006, garnering praise for his interpretation of Fenton in Nicolai’s The Merry Wives of Windsor.

After a brief hiatus from the stage, Mitchener began performing roles with opera companies in the Triangle area. He has sung Bastian in Mozart’s Bastian and Bastianne, and aria concerts for Capitol Opera Raleigh.   Mr. Howell has also worked with Long Leaf Opera as Jazz in Blitzstein’s Regina, and covered the role of Ed in the premiere of the Carter Chandler’s opera, Strange Fruit.