Friends, colleagues, and family gathered at One Guest Street on Thursday, October 3, 2019, for a party celebrating the pioneering career of Michael Ambrosino, creator of Nova, Odyssey, and producer of many WGBH programs.
- Read a transcript of the stories told
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From Fred Barzyk
Memories for Michael
as he moves away from Boston
There are so many images that flow thru my memory bank when I think of our long time friendship.
I remember you directing a Gene Gray science show in Studio B in the old building. You had devised a complicated and intricate moving of studio cameras, allowing you to get the most delicious CU of the experiments. Actually, it was so complicated that we almost found ourselves hopelessly entangled in camera cable. But somehow you pulled it off and the kids of the 21-Inch Classroom were given the images they needed to learn about science. It took us a half hour to untangle the cameras.
Then there was the wonderful legend of a Performance show you directed in the early days. It was a music show that featured a number of ancient instruments. I can’t remember who the stage manager was, but he tried his best to follow your instructions. As the show progressed, he had to hand in various instruments to the host.
About half way through the show, it was time to hand off this unusual contraption. It was a large tall rod with many chimes and bells attached. Your voice spoke quietly thru the headsets, “Hand in the Jingly Johnny QUIETLY.”
With care and gentleness, he proceeded to move the damn thing:
Ding, Dank, Clink, Clank, Chimes ring!!!!
It finally appeared on camera, amidst one of the loudest entrances ever. And a legend was born.
I checked with you to make sure I had the memory right.
Here was your response:
Yes I did produce and direct a series for 21” on music with Ed Gilday, former conductor of the Handel and Haydn with one program on Ancient Instruments.
Checking out stuff at the MFA, our contact there was tightening the strings on an ancient lute when a loud crack reverberated in the gallery. The back had broken from the body.
My most famous statement as a young director was given to John Henning, my floor manager in that taping.
“MR. HENNING, HAND IN THE JINGLING JOHNNY”.
As you know, breathing on the damn thing elicited sounds, let alone handing it off to talent talking in close up while reaching blindly off to his side.
Oh, the happy times you and I have had!
And then there was the time when you showed me such kindness and care. I had come down with a mild form of hepatitis and was going to be out of work for a few weeks. I lived in a rental apartment in the Watertown area with my wife and two kids.
And then one afternoon, you and your dear wife showed up with a home cooked casserole. I remember standing there in my robe, with my wife next to me, overwhelmed at your kindness and thoughtfulness. It is a memory of you I will always treasure.
Thank you for all the good times, the great stories, the friendship you provided to this kid from Milwaukee.