Elsberry, James A. “Jim” | Obits

Elsberry, James A. “Jim” Mar 15, 1940 – Aug 7, 2017 James “Jim” A. Elsberry, age 77, passed away Monday, August 7, 2017 at Nye Legacy Nursing Home. Jim was born in Wausa, NE, on March 15, 1940, to Archie and Grace Elsberry. He attended Wayne State College where he earned a degree in Music Education. He continued his education and attained a graduate degree in Music Education from the University of Northern Colorado at Greeley. He then taught at Underwood High School in Iowa before accepting a teaching position at Benson High School in Omaha. It was during this time that he developed what has become known as the ‘Elsberry Sound’ which was influenced by the likes of Duke Ellington, George Shearing, and Stan Kenton. He was inducted into the Benson High Hall of Fame in April 2014 for the contributions he made during his tenure. In 1976, Jim accepted a position at Midland Lutheran College as a professor of choral music and jazz studies. During his tenure at Midland, Jim developed a highly respected choral program as evidenced by his excellent Concert Choir and Clef Dwellers vocal jazz ensemble. His ensembles routinely performed on campus, in venues in Omaha and Lincoln, and at major national events such as the University of Northern Colorado Greeley Jazz Festival. He had the unique ability to meet his students where they were and then bring them up to the highest standards of collegiate musical performance. Through his inspired teaching that was energized with a great sense of humour, he was able to imbue in them a deep love for making music. Jim was a major force in the development of jazz education in Nebraska. He created the Midland Jazz Festival, an annual event that brought the best high school jazz bands across the region to campus. Jim also conducted the Midland-Dana Jazz Ensemble, a collaborative big band for…

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