Flashback: Nebraska - Hastings High School and Middle School

Updated: Feb 27

Nebraska - the Great Plains.

Jeff Hoffman (guitar/vox), Keri Chryst (vox, comp) and Philippe Petit (piano, arrang) cross the pond at the invitation of Music Educator Rick Matticks to share "The French Connection" with local audiences of all ages.
Originally Posted by Keri Chryst on November 4, 2013 at 2:45 PM

To a native Frenchman like Philippe Petit it's as exotic as the plains of Africa. Flat vistas and nothing but corn and cattle as far as the eye can see. Still, it's not the scenery that really sets it apart - but rather the people. These no-nonsense warm hearted midwesterners welcomed us from the get go to the point where in no time at all we felt like family.


Artists in Residence

A typical day starts at 7:15 am where we meet in the dining room of the Kensington - once a fancy downtown hotel and now a lovely residence for older adults. They've generously leant the school their guest rooms on our behalf, and here Philippe gets his first taste of a typical American breakfast served hot and to order.


Our home-away-from-home - The Kensington - a hotel in its hay-day, now quality assisted living for local area residents.

We're picked up around 7:45 by one of two band directors - either our host Command Sergeant Major Rick Matticks, or his esteemed colleague Erin Beave - and taken to either the Middle or High School to get the day started.

Philippe Petit, Jeff Hoffman and Keri Chryst ready as we'll ever be to spread the Franco-American Jazz Gospel to Hastings Senior High Students

From there on we're shuttled around from school to school, and group to group - sometimes working with young singers, or jazz bands and with an occasional Q&A with the French classes from grades 6-12.

Philippe Petit waxes on about "being a Frenchman" to a captivated audience of High School French Students. The bright-eyed Pablo Morales (front-and-center in grey) went on to study abroad and become a French teacher himself!

Keri introduces Middle School singers to Jazz and French Culture

USO-style concert extravaganza featuring the Artists in Residence playing alongside area students from Middle School, High School and College

The kids are amazing! Well prepared, great singers and players - largely thanks to their wonderful teacher wo do such a good job with them year round. Props to the choral department's: Deb Dowling, Kylee Bruce and Kristen Janda at the Middle School, and Tim Canady (with the help of Douglas Singer) at the High School. I'm a sucker for quality kids singing out in harmony, and found myself in tears of nostalgic joy at least once a day ;-) Mr. Matticks and Mr. Beave do a great job with the bands too of course, and Jeff, Philippe and I worked with them all - singers and players alike - mostly on how to get things really swinging by playing with accuracy and especially with a lot of feeling.


Farewell to Hastings! And special thanks to Rick Matticks for making it all happen! 💜🎶