JAM Fest rekindles students’ musical spirit

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With guitar in hand, Honour Lackey performs her way to first place in this year’s JAM (Jonathan Alder Music) Fest.

(Posted Feb. 16, 2021)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

It’s a familiar storyline that plays like a broken record by now: Non-profit scales back fundraiser to meet pandemic safety guidelines. Happily, the Jonathan Alder Music Boosters came away from this year’s modified JAM Fest singing a joyful tune.

“The original purpose of JAM Fest is to raise money for the choral program. Last year, we made $8,000,” said Nick Mayes, vocal music director at the junior high and high school.

“This year, I couldn’t have cared less if we made $2. The goal was to get the kids to perform. It’s been a long time since we performed, and I could feel that our fires were starting to dim a little bit. We needed this to give us a reason to keep going.”

Normally, JAM (Jonathan Alder Music) Fest is a big to-do involving food trucks, live and silent auctions, and the focal point–a live music competition featuring current and former students, enjoyed by hundreds of spectators. Due to COVID-19, organizers nixed the food trucks, auctions, and in-person audience this year. Instead, the competition was livestreamed over the Internet.

Singer Sophia Lowe was the first runner-up in this year’s JAM Fest.

The show–which took place on Feb. 13, lasted nearly two hours, and featured 16 acts–was a hit, Mayes said. The video enjoyed more than 1,200 views and, despite the modified format, the event raised $3,700.

“It was a magical night. It was so well done by the kids,” Mayes said. “And we had a fantastic turnout. We had people from all the way up in Canada and even some from Europe tuning in.”

Most of the performances were vocal acts, but a handful were instrumental only. Participants auditioned for spots in the lineup. Mayes chose 14 acts from the 22 that auditioned. Two of the school’s choir ensembles performed, as well, but did not compete for prizes. All of the contest winners were current Jonathan Alder students:

  • Grand prize–Honour Lackey ($200 and a bouquet of flowers);
  • First runner-up–Sophia Lowe ($100);
  • Second runner-up–The Little Wing Combo featuring Mason McFarlane and Owen Detweiler ($50);
  • Most musical–The Little Wing Combo (certificate and rose);
  • Best instrumental–Dime featuring Will Engle, Connor Beachy, Owen Detweiler and Mason McFarlane (certificate and rose);
  • Best singer–Honour Lackey (certificate and rose);
  • People’s Choice Award–Dime (t-shirts emblazoned with the phrase “I’m the People’s Choice”).

As in the past, proceeds from JAM Fest will go exclusively to the school’s choral program to cover expenses related to the spring musical, field trips, stage equipment and more.

To view JAM Fest 2021, search for “Jonathan Alder Music” on Youtube. Visit https://givebutter.com/JAMFest to make a donation.

The choral program has two more performances planned for this school year. Watch for more information about the show choir’s upcoming show, “The Weather Project,” set for March 19-20. Tickets for in-person viewing go on sale in early March; capacity will be limited with parents getting first dibs. The show also will be livestreamed.

This year’s musical, “My Fair Lady,” will hit the stage in late April for in-person audiences only; no livestream is planned. So far, shows are planned for the weekend of April 23-25. More dates might be added. Mayes said the goal is to offer a total of six showtimes.

Members of Jonathan Alder High School’s symphonic choir perform at JAM Fest. At the microphones are soloists Ellyse Tillyer and Connor Gluntz.

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