41st Annual Jazz Festival Revives Student Music Scene

Norfolk, NE – The Cox Activities Center on the Northeast campus became a hub of jazz music, sequins, and excitement as middle and high school student musicians arrived to compete in the Northeast Community College’s 41st annual Jazz Festival. The festival, which was sponsored by the Northeast Music Department, lasted for two days and drew in 66 musical groups consisting of 1,492 students and directors from Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota.

The competition was divided into four levels and hosted jazz bands and show/jazz choirs. Fifty trophies and nine tuition waiver scholarships were presented over the two days for first, second, third, and fourth place and solo and instrumental awards. The event helped students develop as musicians and learn what other schools were doing, according to Margaret Schultz, Northeast choral director and festival director.

“The hushed anticipation and then the cheers and applause for each group announced never gets old,” Schultz said. “The quality adjudication comments provide musicianship growth to both students and directors. All in all, the festival ran very smoothly due to the support of Northeast Area Jazz Ensemble, the college and the Northeast students who help work the festival. Those in attendance expressed their enjoyment and joy to be listening to these young musicians.”

Norfolk Junior High School No. 1 secured the first-place prize in the Level IV jazz band category, while Grand Island Central Catholic High School clinched the first-place spot in the show choir category. They also produced an outstanding soloist in Molly Kenna. At Level III, Pender Public Schools and Bishop Neumann Catholic High School earned first-place honors in the jazz band and show choir categories, respectively. AJ Puskar was declared an outstanding soloist from Brownell-Talbot in the vocal jazz category.

In Level II, Pierce High School claimed the top spot in the jazz band category, while Minden High School won the show choir category. In Level I, Mitchell High School No.1 was recognized as the winner of the jazz band category, while Columbus High School secured the top spot in the vocal jazz category. Norfolk High School won the show choir category.

Numerous area superior jazz band, jazz choir, and show choir ratings were given to various schools, including Bloomfield Community School, Stanton Community Schools, Columbus High School, and Norfolk Catholic High School. Area solo awards and instrumental solo awards were also presented, with instrumental soloist Tresha Koch from Stanton Community School being awarded for her outstanding performance on the flugelhorn. Additionally, three students were presented with $1,000 tuition waiver scholarships, including Taylor Kleinschmit from Bloomfield Community School, Madison Parker from Elkhorn Valley High School, and Ciara Garcia from Pierce High School.

Northeast Community College’s 41st annual Jazz Festival truly lived up to expectations and provided a memorable experience for all who attended. Attendees marveled at the skill and talent that the young musicians displayed and appreciated the efforts of the organizers and helpers, which made the event a success.

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