Tiernan is the first Gael to receive the state’s top jazz honors | News, Sports, Jobs

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Alex Tiernan poses for a photo with St. Edmond High School band manager Ryan Swedean after Tuesday’s performance at the Iowa Jazz Championships. Tiernan was named a Class 1A Outstanding Performer in the State of Iowa.

From the moment Alex Tiernan strapped on her bass guitar Tuesday at the Iowa Jazz Championships, she moved and strummed along to classic jazz tunes while keeping pace with her fellow Gaels.

Tiernan’s steady bassline and dancing shimmy caught the attention of judges who awarded St. Edmond High School junior the Outstanding Performer Award for Class 1A in Iowa, the first time in championship history. Iowa Jazz Festival that a Gael won.

“I tried to look for my teacher to see if this was really happening,” Tiernan said. “I went there still trying to process everything, and they confirmed me as one of four winners. Even as I returned to my seat, I was still stunned.

St. Edmond band manager Ryan Swedean said Tiernan’s win speaks volumes about his dedication to jazz and the bass guitar.

“Winning an outstanding performer award is incredibly difficult,” says Swede. “Out of nearly 300 students for the day, the judges saw Alex as one of the top four students in Iowa. It’s a huge deal and it’s something I’m very proud of her.

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The St. Edmond High School jazz band, led by director Ryan Swedean, competed at the Iowa Jazz Championships on Tuesday. Ten Gaels performed songs by Duke Ellington, Erik Sherburne and Doug Beach.

Days later, Tiernan is still stunned by the accolade, but says she loves the opportunity to play.

“My favorite thing about playing the bass is being the instrument that everyone stomps on,” Tiernan said. “The bass is one of the band’s two ‘beat keepers’ or ‘metronomes’, the drums being the other. Having a part that’s easy to dance to and have fun with is amazing.

Tiernan, along with fellow Gaels Clare Conrad, Isaac Larson, Caitlin Croonquist, Kara McGonegle, Zach Midtling, Cecilia Galvan, Lacey Larson, Luke Royster and Manuela Rodriguez performed three songs – Duke Ellington’s “In a Mellow Tone”, “Easy Does It” by Erik Sherburne and “Chili Pepper 101” by Doug Beach and George Shuck.

“It is difficult to put words on the quality of the students” says Swede. “Seeing their growth as players and as people is the main reason I teach. They did a great job.”

The Fort Dodge Senior High School Jazz Band also performed at the annual Iowa Jazz Championships competition. Directed by Director Al Paulson, Students Abby Meyer, Makenna Kammerer, Halley Folsom, Bo Tracy, Alijah Henry, Britta McCollum, Dennis Morgan, Aaron Amhof, Brayden Schmeider, Colton Hale, Gavin Piper, Rylie Reed, Carter Hanson, Sydney Gebers , Nathan Beekman, Reede Pederson, Kyle Napier, Ethan Bloom, Carson Kahler, Anna Marxen and Ryan Madden competed in Class 4A. The Dodgers played “The Jazz Police” by Gordon Goodwin, “Come Rain or Come Shine” by Mercer, Arlen and Stone, and “Dat Dere” by Timmons and Morales.

“I am very proud of the students” said Paulson. “They exceeded all expectations. We have very few seniors in the group so the future looks good. Children love to play together and always hold themselves to a high standard.

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