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High school show and jazz choirs from Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska all met together Feb. 8 for the annual Show/Jazz Choir Festival.

Seventeen high school groups competed with one another throughout the day. Schools including Maryville High School, Oak Park High School, Smithville High School and others from Nebraska and Kansas all were involved in the festival. Northwest Celebrations, a full-year choir made up of Northwest students, concluded the festival with its own show before announcing the finalists.

Northwest Celebrations is in charge of events such as the Yuletide Feast, the Spring Show Choir and the Jazz/Show Choir Festival.

Lillian Flanery, a fifth-year senior, has been involved with Northwest Celebrations for two years.

“The Northwest Celebrations show is really for encouraging students looking for colleges who have show choir,” Flanery said.

In an email, Brian Lanier, a vocal music professor at Northwest, explained how the day is prepared. Northwest Celebration is in charge of hosting the choirs on campus, the judges, the crowd, and even their own performance.

“Invitations are sent out in August to potential choirs and registration details follow,” Lanier said. “The choirs arrive and we have a day of awesome performances.”

Both the high schoolers and students in Northwest Celebrations are receiving skills throughout the festival in this manner.

“The students who come here to perform get an enormous amount of experience and positive support,” Lanier said. “The Northwest students in my choir get the opportunity to observe and learn about the way teachers develop choral programs.”

The high school groups are able to use the equipment they need from Northwest, such as high risers, a piano and even a drum set. The set up itself on the day of the festival takes an hour and 45 minutes.

Flanery said the high schools that come check in and are shown into Lamkin Activity Center, where they are able to store clothes and props. They have a warm-up time and perform. During the show, they are judged and can watch other schools compete until finalists are announced.

“Finals can go really late,” Flanery said. “There are six choirs that compete in the finals. They perform again, while having the judges comments and suggestions.”

Lanier said the judges are not looking for any particular songs or charts.

“They will watch and listen to the choirs and judge them on vocal performance, dancing skills and overall entertainment value,” Lanier said.

Most of the high school groups were show choirs, but some of them were jazz choirs. Anna Horn, another student at Northwest who is involved with Northwest Celebrations, explained the difference between show and jazz choir.

“Jazz choir doesn’t focus on theatrics; it focuses more on the music,” Horn said. “They sing more harmonically dense music.”

This opens up a wide range of music for both the community members and students.

“The festival allows teachers, students, parents and the community to come to the Northwest campus in order to experience music, positive energy and support of the arts,” Lanier said. “Everyone should come and watch these choirs.”

The Show/Jazz Choir Festival went until 10 p.m. St. Thomas Aquinas High School won the Sweepstakes Champion at the festival.

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