For more than 35 years, the Hastings College Jazz Festival has given high school and middle school jazz bands across Nebraska an opportunity to perform and be coached by guest artists. It’s also an opportunity for the community to enjoy some great jazz from the young performers, as well as a concert featuring the Hastings College Jazz Ensemble and guest artists.
This year’s Hastings College Jazz Festival is set for Monday, April 3 and Tuesday, April 4. Student performances are 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., April 3, in French Memorial Chapel. The list of bands and performance times is below.
The Festival concert is Tuesday, April 4, at 7:30 p.m. in French Memorial Chapel. It features the Hastings College Jazz Ensemble and guest artists Justin Kisor, who teaches trumpet at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, and the Tri-City Jazz Orchestra, which features musicians from the tri-cities area.
All performances are free and open to the public.
Guest artists providing feedback to bands include Kisor, Sarah Cosano and Michael Larson. Cosano is finishing her third year as a doctoral fellow at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is adjunct saxophone instructor and jazz ensemble director at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. Larson has held the Principal Trombone chair for the Mankato Symphony in Mankato, Minnesota, for 25 years, and is also co-founder and lead trombone with the Nova Contemporary Jazz Orchestra.
Schedule for Monday, April 3 – French Memorial Chapel
Band Director Time
Blue Hill Bill McMurtry 8:00 a.m.
Hastings St. Cecilia Ben Veilleux 8:30 a.m.
Grand Island Northwest Shawn Pfanstiel 9:00 a.m.
Hastings High School Erin Beave 9:30 a.m.
Nebraska City Emily Roth 10:00 a.m.
Waverly Jim Kucera 10:30 a.m.
Norris Evan Lee 11:00 a.m.
Millard South Darren Myers 11:30 a.m.
Lincoln Northeast I Brian Vuu 12:30 p.m.
Platteview Jerry Layher 1:00 p.m.
Lincoln Northeast II Eric Snyder 1:30 p.m.
Grand Island Senior High I Amy Schneider 2:00 p.m.
Lexington Middle School Frankie Pineda 2:30 p.m.
Hastings Middle School Troy Ehmke 3:00 p.m.
Grand Island Senior High II Amy Schneider 3:30 p.m.
Guest Artist Bios
Justin Kisor began playing trumpet professionally at the age of 13 with territory bands in Sioux City, Iowa. By the age of 17, Kisor was receiving international recognition as a jazz soloist, by becoming 1 of 5 recipients of the Clifford Brown/Stan Getz Fellowship. This led Kisor to a full-ride scholarship to the New School of Jazz at Mannes College in New York City. After seven years in the big apple, Kisor played and recorded with Wynton Marsalis, Wycliff Gordon, Ben Wolfe, Winard Harper, Nora Jones, Charles Persip and many more. In 2001, he was selected to be part of the first class of jazz at the Juilliard School, from where he graduated in 2004. In 2007, he auditioned and won the open chair in the premier navy jazz ensemble, the United States Navy Band Commodores, based in Washington, D.C. Upon completion of his duties with the Navy, Justin moved back to Sioux City where he currently teaches trumpet at Morningside College and plays regularly throughout the area.
From concert halls to cruise lines, Sarah Cosano is a versatile musician who has travelled the world performing for all types of audiences. Originally trained as a classical musician, she won the Music Teachers National Association woodwind competition, and was discovered by the NPR radio show From the Top. Since then, she has been at the helm of award winning show bands, combos, and orchestras around the United States. In 2016, she completed a contract as the featured jazz vocalist at the New York Bar in the Park Hyatt, Tokyo; and her group (Cambia) performed their original music at the Prairie Jazz Festival. She specializes in combining dance and woodwind performance, and toured as a cast member with BLAST Music in Extreme, the Disneyland All American College Band and the Aimachi production show, Evolution. Cruise ship contracts have taken her all over the world. Over the years, she has shared the stage with great artists from both past and present: Bob Florence, George Stone, Bob Mintzer, Sean Jones, Victor Lewis, Ed Calle, the Nelson Brothers, the Coasters, Judy Carmichael, Wayne Bergeron and more.
Helping others to find their unique musical voice is important to Cosano, and she has experience teaching flute, clarinet and saxophone to all ages. This includes previous instructor positions at the Magic Valley School for the Arts, the Austin Independent School District, the College of Southern Idaho, and a graduate teaching assistantship at Washington State University. Currently, she is finishing her third year as a doctoral fellow at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she teaches saxophone lessons and jazz history. Cosano also is the adjunct saxophone instructor and jazz ensemble director at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.
Michael Larson has held the Principal Trombone chair for the Mankato Symphony, Mankato MN, for 25 years. Mike is also co-founder and lead trombone with the Nova Contemporary Jazz Orchestra celebrating 24 years ( and 11 CDs). Mike also fills the 2nd trombone chair with the Jerry O’Hagan Big Band. His experience includes freelance work with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Richmond Symphony Orchestra (Richmond, Indiana), The Compass Rose Brass Ensemble and the Aurora Brass Quintet. In 1998 he completed a masters degree in Trombone Performance from the Cincinnati Conservatory. He lived and worked at an animal hospital, created for the Guthrie Theater and lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, with his wife Leslie and three rescued cats.
Hastings College is a private, four-year institution located in Hastings, Nebraska, that focuses on student academic and extracurricular achievement. With 64 majors and 15 pre-professional programs, Hastings College has been named among “Great Schools, Great Prices” by U.S. News & World Report and a “Best in the Midwest” by The Princeton Review. For more, go to hastings.edu.