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Jared Hansen’s hands are on pianos all over Grand Island

May 13, 2018

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) — Finding an opportunity to hear Grand Island’s Jared Hansen performing at a keyboard shouldn’t be difficult.

Hansen, 34, plays keyboard instruments to accompany singing at three Third City churches, sometimes “tearing” from one church to another on a Sunday morning.

And his musical skills don’t stop there. In addition, as full-time employment, Hansen serves as piano accompanist during the week for the seven choral groups at Grand Island Senior High — Madrigal, Chamber Choir, Singers, Women’s Choir and the three show choirs.

On Sundays he plays the organ at First Christian Church and Messiah Lutheran Church. Also, he plays an electric piano at St. Mary’s Cathedral during worship services. He serves as substitute accompanist at Trinity United Methodist Church, his home church, and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.

“There are some mornings where it’s a little tight so I’m racing from one church to the other, but usually it’s not a big issue,” Hansen said. “Luckily there are a couple of people at the later church who, if I’m running late, I can shoot them a text and say ‘Can you play the opening hymn?’”

At the worship services, he usually plays the prelude, an offertory and the postlude, as well as accompaniments to congregational singing.

As musicians must, he practices before all public events, going over the chosen pieces of church music on the instrument they are to be performed.

“Each organ is specific and unique to itself, so you have to have some practice on it so you know what buttons to push, what stops to pull,” he said.

The Grand Island Independent reports that Hansen’s accompanying even goes beyond high school choirs and church congregations. He has been the accompanist for La Camerata Madrigal Singers in Grand Island for three years and has served as accompanist for high-school musicals in Grand Island, Kearney and Aurora.

Hansen began developing his musical skill by taking piano lessons when he was in the third grade; his lessons were taught by Jean Harris. The lessons continued through high school.

“I started with reading the notes much more than playing by ear,” Hansen said. “A lot of people start with playing by ear and add the note-reading in later.”

In high school he participated in jazz band, show choir band, choir and other groups at Northwest High School, where he graduated in 2002.

“From there I went to Lincoln, to Nebraska Wesleyan University, and studied music education with piano as the main focus,” Hansen said. “I’m primarily a pianist, but I had organ lessons for a couple of semesters.” He graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan in 2006.

“I started playing for musicals at Wesleyan,” he said, “and that sort of transitioned to playing primarily for music theatre, which I then did after college in New York City for five or six years.”

In New York he did “kids’ shows, adult shows, auditions, master classes . just all sorts of different piano-related things.” He also played at churches there — “I did everything from a Baptist church in Brooklyn to a Spanish Catholic church in South Bronx.”

Hansen’s work in New York was all freelance.

“It was a lot of hustle and looking for work to try to survive,” he said. “From there you make connections and after a while, once your name gets out there, you start to get more calls and have to do less searching on your own.”

“After I was there five or six years, I came back home and there was the open accompanying position at Senior High,” Hansen said, “and I got that and I’ve been doing that ever since and playing for all sorts of things around here as well.”

He came back to Grand Island simply because that’s where his family is, he said.

With that diverse background, what styles of music does Hansen personally prefer?

“This time of year I enjoy the Bach chorales,” he said. “In terms of church music, I enjoy the gospel style. Growing up at Trinity Methodist, because they have a very nice organ there, I enjoy traditional hymns with the organ accompanying.”

Hansen’s parents are Grant and Pam Hansen. His sister, who also works at Grand Island Senior High (in the tech department), is Kendra Hansen. They all live in Grand Island.

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Information from: The Grand Island Independent, http://www.theindependent.com

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