Mason City, aka River City and home of “The Music Man” has a history of strong instrumental music traditions. One such tradition that is proudly entering its 25th year is the North Iowa Area Community College Jazz Festival. The festival was developed and created by John Klemas, Head of Instrumental Music at NIACC. The primary goal of this festival has always been to provide local students access to the highest caliber adjudicators and performers, allowing them a competition free space to receive productive feedback for improvement.
Being in early January, this program has faced its fair share of obstacles through the winter weather. The concept of adapting is not new to Klemas. “It’s important we still provide a high quality event for our students who have already missed so many opportunities this year, even if that means thinking outside of the box.” Which is exactly what Klemas did when he approached Lindsay Dalrymple, Performing Arts and Leadership Series Director and supporter of the Jazz Festival. Dalrymple had booked the much-beloved all-female big band Diva Jazz as clinicians and performers for the event in 2021. While the auditorium is currently closed and a public performance would not be possible, the college has been exploring online platforms for performances and education.
Klemas and Dalrymple worked with Diva Jazz founder and leader/drummer Sherrie Maricle to explore what options may be available virtually. NIACC is excited to announce that the 25th Annual Jazz Festival will take place virtually on January 22, 2021. Participating bands include Belmond-Klemme High School under the direction of Mike Stittsworth, Garner-Hayfield-Ventura High School under the direction of Jeff Griffin, Clear Lake High School under the direction of Holly Prier, Central Springs High School under the direction of Cole Younger, Mason City High School under the direction of Sam Bills, and Gilbert High School under the direction of Byron Tinder. Students will have a full hour to perform their pieces and receive feedback from the clinicians via zoom from their home school site.