Crimson Elite attends Jazz Festival

Crimson Elite kicked off their competition season on Monday, March 19 at the Nebraska Choral Directors Association (NCDA) Vocal Jazz Festival at Columbus High School.


Crimson Elite members Marah Shumard ’18, Addi Parrack ’21, Izze Schwab ’20, Leah Mach ’21, Claire Shumard ’20, Britney Scheetz ’18, Jaelle Johnson ’20, Grant Snyder ’18, and Jayson Klaumann ’19 performed for competed at the brand-new Columbus High School at the NCDA Vocal Jazz Festival to be critiqued by musical professionals. Photo by: Derek Anderson

This festival, however, is not a typical ‘competition’, but rather an opportunity for high school jazz choirs to perform their sets and are critiqued by musical clinicians. Crimson Elite received valuable feedback that will be helpful for future competitions.

“The festival has never been a ‘competition’, to say. The Jazz Festival was built on the philosophy that cooperation, not competition, is the key to the deepest level of appreciation and lifelong learning,” Jazz choir director Joseph Fitzgerald said.


Crimson Elite is directed by vocal music instructor Joseph Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald has high hopes for the future of Crimson Elite. “There are some things that I can’t wait to do again next year, but I will always continue to carefully consider what part of the experience can be improved and what we can do to make the biggest impact on our school and community,” Mr. Fitzgerald said. Photo by: Derek Anderson

Crimson Elite’s set includes a swing tune titled “Knock Me a Kiss”, a standard jazz ballad called “Body and Soul” and a modern arrangement of Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed”. They performed “Overjoyed” on the Saturday prior to their competition at Copacabana. Although the musical group has had much practice with their set, there’s always room for improvement.

“We need to get to our vowels faster and we need to move more when were up there instead of standing still,” Marah Shumard ’18 said.

Crimson Elite will compete again at the Northeast Jazz Festival on Tuesday, March 27 and in April during District Music. With the feedback they received at the NCDA festival and plenty of things to work on, they will continue to perfect their talents in preparation for future competitions.

“Thursday morning we listened to the critique from John Stafford, one of the best jazz vocalists in the Midwest and we’ll just have to practice those things that he said we needed to do,” Shumard said. “We look forward to improving ourselves even though this is our first time and it’s tough and it’s something none of us have ever done before.”