By Ed Karvoski Jr., Culture Editor
Worcester – Jazz musician Mauro DePasquale of Worcester worked his first professional gig at age 13. While entertaining as a singer and pianist in recent years with the Jazzed Up Trio, he has integrated his performing and behind-the-scenes skills since 1990 as executive director of Worcester’s public-access WCCA-TV cable channel 194 and streamed live online.
“The cool thing about my job is that I get to do a little bit of everything,” he said. “In addition to managing a corporate environment, I participate in the actual ground-level production.”
DePasquale took piano lessons as a young elementary school student. Soon afterward, he became fascinated with stage-set design while on school field trips to Boston arranged by Sarah Caldwell, an acclaimed opera conductor and impresario at the time.
Piano lessons paid off when a 13-year-old DePasquale began getting hired to play at wedding receptions. His musical taste and job searches changed after hearing The Beatles.
“I really wanted to play rock and roll,” he recalled. “Luckily, I had really encouraging parents. My father would take me to auditions or to jam with different groups.”
After graduating from high school in 1973, DePasquale formed his own band and toured New England. Married at age 20 and beginning to raise a family, he booked gigs within a 30-minute radius of their home.
“I went to college later because I had a family and tried working different kinds of jobs,” he explained. “The music kept pulling me in, so I kept following it.”
DePasquale earned a bachelor’s degree in music at Anna Maria College in 1980 and a master’s in music composition at Boston Conservatory in 1982. He created television and radio jingles while working freelance videography jobs.
In the late-1980s, he began volunteering at WCCA-TV by helping with background music and other production tasks. Additionally, he served on its board of directors.
“They asked me to be the WCCA executive director in 1990 and I’ve been there ever since,” he relayed. “I fell in love with its mission of being a nonprofit community station. It’s a great way to contribute to the community and utilize whatever talents I’m lucky enough to have.”
He and a staff of 10 help community members produce television programs. Worcester-area residents are also welcomed as guests on the community awareness program “Soapbox.” DePasquale occasionally hosts “Soapbox” and the program “Band Edge,” which spotlights local bands, solo singer-songwriters and instrumentalists of all genres.
As a longtime professional musician, DePasquale understands the impact of getting exposure on television.
“It’s important and encouraging to have an opportunity to get people to hear your music,” he said. “It’s amazing the amount of talent that’s out there.”
Several years ago, DePasquale’s earlier jazz group known as The Johnny Dollar Experiment evolved into the current Jazzed Up Trio and sometimes Jazzed Up Duo. Among venues where they regularly perform are Casta Diva, Northborough; Cheng Du, Westborough; Medusa Brewing Company, Hudson; and Uxlocale, Uxbridge.
“We blend jazz classics and American Songbook favorites,” he noted. “When we perform, it’s especially nice to see other people appreciate the same kind of music that I value.”
DePasquale and a committee are currently planning the first Central Mass Jazz Fest as a WCCA-TV fundraiser to be held Saturday, June 22, noon to 7:30 p.m., at Cristoforo Colombo Park (East Park) in Worcester.
“It’s fun for me to work with others and be as creative as I can within the confines of my administrative work,” DePasquale said. “I thrive on this kind of creative environment.”