Norfolk schools shine at Northeast Community College Jazz Festival | News

Jazz once again filled the halls of the Cox Activity Center during the Northeast Community College Jazz Festival on Tuesday.

It has been two years since the jazz festival was held in person due to COVID-19. But that didn’t stop the Norfolk jazz band and choir students from earning high marks in the competition.

The festival kicked off at 8:35 a.m. Tuesday. Despite the early rise, Todd Cook, the Norfolk High School band manager, was enthusiastic about his jazz band‘s performance.

“It’s going to be a great day of jazz,” Cook said before the festival began.

The two jazz bands from Norfolk High School both won awards at the festival. The first jazz group took second place, while the second won fourth.

The jazz band weren’t the only Norfolk school to excel at the festival on Tuesday. Norfolk High School’s show choir team, Velocity, won first place at the jazz and show choir festival.

According to Dustin Wood, the choir director of the Norfolk High School show, the theme for Velocity’s performance was “Kings and Queens”. The group wore crowns, purple robes and costumes to match the theme.

Norfolk High School was the only school in Nebraska to make it to the show choir finalists. Two schools in Iowa – Denison High School and Thomas Jefferson High School in Council Bluffs – placed second and third.

“I felt it went really well,” Wood said before the awards were announced. “It’s always a big adjustment for us to move to smaller stages than what we had in high school. So that was a bit of an adjustment for us.

On Monday, jazz bands and show choirs from Norfolk colleges also took part in the jazz festival. Both jazz bands from Norfolk Junior High placed first and second in the tier four category, while Norfolk Catholic placed third. The Norfolk Junior High Show Choir team placed fourth, while Norfolk Catholic placed third in the tier four category.

The festival was divided into two sections – jazz band and show choir. From there, the groups competed at different levels, from one to four. The performances lasted all day from Monday to Tuesday.

According to Margaret Schultz, festival director for Northeast Community College, schools from all over Nebraska and out of state attended the event. Northeast Community College hosted approximately 1,200 to 1,800 students for the K-12 competition.

This was the 40th year that the festival was held at the college. The competition was started by the Northeast Area Jazz Ensemble in 1982, Schultz said.

“It’s just always a good time,” Schultz said. “It’s a lot of preparation…but it’s fun for the students and, more than anything, we hope they’ll learn to improve their musical sense and it’ll be a fun educational experience for them.”

Willie J. Johnson