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MSU students and faculty produce and perform music special on KET

Faculty and students from Morehead State University’s Department of Communication, Media and Languages and Department of Music, Theatre and Dance are coming together for a creative endeavor coming to the small screen to brighten up the holiday season.  

Under the leadership of Jeffrey Hill, professor of mass communication, and Ryan McGillicuddy, assistant professor of music, the hour-long video work “The Ryan McGillicuddy Big Band” will premiere at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 27, on Kentucky Educational Television (KET). The project is also scheduled for nine additional airdates between Dec. 29 and Jan. 4, 2021.  

With the support of an MSU Creative Productions grant, McGillicuddy composed and arranged five compositions while arranging one traditional work and one piece by jazz artist Jim Golding. From there, he formed an 18-piece Big Band consisting of Kentucky jazz musicians, as well MSU faculty and students.  

MSU students and faculty who performed in “The Ryan McGillicuddy Big Band” include:  

  • Mason Boore (20, trumpet), graduate assistant in trumpet, Morehead  
  • Christopher Dudley (trumpet), senior music major, Frankfort  
  • Glenn Ginn (guitar), associate professor of jazz studies  
  • Dr. Nathan Mensink (tenor saxophone), visiting assistant professor of saxophone  
  • Ryan McGillicuddy (upright bass), professor of jazz studies  

“I participated in ensembles there and developed a love for the idiom. But it wasn’t until I started teaching at MSU that I dove into writing for Big Band,” McGillicuddy said. “I teach a Big Band here and started to write for the ensemble. It’s a great opportunity to get my music played from our college musicians and hone my writing skills.”  

McGillicuddy then tapped Hill to shoot a performance in Button Auditorium with a 10-camera video shoot. In addition to assembling a production crew of professionals from Kentucky, Washington D.C., and California, he was also assisted by MSU communication instructor Chris Merritt (04, 09) and several MSU students.  

MSU students and faculty involved in the production of “The Ryan McGillicuddy Big Band” include:  

  • Austin Boggs (19), Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies, Hazard  
  • Dr. Katy Carlson, professor of English  
  • Mason Daugherty (19), Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance, Bass Guitar, Finchville  
  • James Dillon (20), Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies, Flemingsburg  
  • Sahara LaForce (20), Bachelor of Arts in Convergent Media, Tazewell, Virginia  
  • Chris Merritt (04, 09), instructor of communication  
  • Nicolas Salyers, senior convergent media major, Sandy Hook  
  • Ryan Woods, (20), Bachelor of Music in Music, Louisville  

“During the filming, it was important to keep all the production staff aware of what everyone else was doing. During the post-production, it was quite challenging editing 10 different cameras,” Hill said. “All my projects at MSU have used production students. I think it is imperative that students get a chance to do real-world work while at MSU.”  

“Typically, when recording with an 18-piece jazz ensemble, with music that is this complicated and challenging, the ensemble would do a rehearsal prior to the recording, and the recording would most likely take up an 8-10 hour studio chunk,” McGillicuddy said. “In our case, we only had about a 6-hour window to do a quick rehearsal and record the music. Kudos to all the musicians who rose to the challenge.”  

After the production was complete, Hill submitted the show to KET.  

“It is always gratifying to see one’s work be picked up for distribution. It is particularly gratifying to see the project broadcast on what is perhaps the biggest viewing day of the year,” Hill said. “Having had a relationship with KET for 15 years, I sent the project to program manager Paul Smith and he felt this was the type of project that KET’s mission strives for.”  

Both Hill and McGillicuddy are thrilled to have this performance recorded and presented to Kentucky viewers and that it is a shining example of MSU’s creative talent.  

“It shows that faculty and students are doing real-world professional work,” Hill said.  

McGillicuddy added, “I think it will showcase the talent we have here at MSU and be a beacon for aspiring musicians in the area.”  

For further information, contact Hill at or McGillicuddy at You can also visit the KET website at  

To learn more about programs in MSU’s Department of Communication, Media and Languages, visit, email or call 606-783-2134.  

To learn more about music programs at MSU, email, 606-783-2473 or visit

Photo: Ryan McGillicuddy (center) and "The Ryan McGillicuddy Big Band" will premiere on KET at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 27.