Improv pianist wins first talent show open to all students for first time in several semesters

Written by: 
Patrick Campbell

Extemporaneously composing music on the piano with notes suggested by the audience, sophomore Jacob McGee won the BYU-Hawaii Student Events Opening Social Talent Show on Friday, March 10.

McGee impressed the judge’s panel of three student and faculty members by playing an improvised piano piece, which he composed of notes selected by the audience from note cards he had distributed.

“It was actually kind of hard. I’m glad [the song] turned out the way it did because sometimes the notes sound really good, and sometimes they sound really bad. I never really know until they pick the cards. It’s probably like my third time doing that in public.”

“We wanted to try something a little bit different for the opening social, something that could really bring the students together for the first week of school,” said Student Events Supervisor Jennie Lynn Jessop, a senior from Oregon majoring in elementary education. “Instead of just come together for a dance, we really wanted to showcase the students and their talents.”

McGee, a biomedical science major from California, was one of more than a dozen participants.

The reward for winning this year’s talent show included more than just bragging rights. Student Events offered prizes for the top three contestants. The first-place prize was two tickets for a full tour at Keana Farms Climbworks Zipeline.

“I honestly was not even expecting a prize. It’s really cool to win something,” said McGee.

The audience was very positive and responded well to all the performances, said Aaron Blackwelder, a freshman from Ohio whose major is undecided.

“The whole event was fun,” said Blackwelder. “There was some really great talent from across the world. It was a very BYUH type of talent show.”

Among the contestants were several guitarists and vocalists. Some sang and played popular tunes at the same time while others played original pieces they wrote themselves. Other acts included a balloon artist and a juggler.

According to Jessop, talent shows on campus had usually been designated to the New Student Orientation and had been exclusively for the incoming freshman. This was the first one they had done separate from the orientation in a long time.

“We actually got the idea from the students,” explained Jessop. “We did a poll a couple weeks ago at the end of the Winter Semester and one of our top findings was students wanted to see a talent show so we decided to make a change and incorporate it into the Opening Social.”

Date Published: 
Friday, March 24, 2017
Last Edited: 
Friday, March 24, 2017