The 54th annual Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, hosted by the University of Idaho’s eponymous school of music, will be delivered virtually this year, but organizers are still finding a way to showcase young talent.

Included with a slate of professional performers for this year’s fest is a student ensemble assembled from universities across the country that are affiliated with the Grammy Museum.

Vanessa Sielert, director of the UI’s school of music and education adviser for the festival, said the group, called the Grammy Museum Affiliate Collective, is an opportunity to expose students to “the rest of the world.”

“I think that it shows our students that there’s more to music than what’s just happening in their front yard,” Sielert said. “That’s kind of the point is to open them up to collaboration with musicians from all over the world.”

Sielert said the group was coached by a pair of UI professors and their performances will be aired alongside professional musicians during virtual concerts associated with the festival.

UI professor of jazz piano Kate Skinner, who helped coach the group, said students were selected by their instructors at participating schools and all of them are talented jazz musicians.

Skinner said the opportunity to be showcased at a world-renowned jazz festival as part of an elite ensemble is a high honor and a feather in their professional cap, but also an opportunity to meet their peers in the jazz world.

“The community is small and the friends that you make in your undergrad and graduate years can be very influential throughout your career,” Skinner said. “So, who knows, there’s potential that these musicians who never would have met otherwise, would later cross paths and maybe play together again and like it enhance each other’s careers.”

The collective’s debut performances will be aired as part of the festival’s Friday and Saturday concerts. Skinner said one of the tunes is a song called “Self Portrait in Three Colors” from jazz bass legend Charles Mingus, and another, dubbed “Synthesis in Distance,” is an original composition from one of the collective members.

Drummer for the collective, Ivana Gonzales, who attends the University of California, Berkeley, said collaborating over a distance was a challenge — particularly for jazz music which can lean on the energy of a live performance.

“Doing this online, you have to basically be more aware when you are listening to people playing,” Gonzales said. “I have to try to figure it out like, ‘Okay, I think this is going to sound good if I play this,’ but because we don’t have that eye contact or something, we needed to trust more in the other person.”

UI student Josh Day, who is one of two keyboardists for the ensemble, said inclusion in the ensemble is a high honor. He said being chosen by instructors for participation in the collective stands as a testament to the hard work he has put in as a student.

“For me, it just feels like it’s kind of a culmination of my experience here at the University of Idaho,” Day said. “It just forces me to reflect on where I was when I came to the school and how far I’ve come since then ... It was really an honor to be picked for this.”

Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival

Thursday, Feb. 25

8:30 a.m. — Yes, I have a successful music career!

10 a.m. — My collegiate music journey: The student perspective

11:30 p.m. — I want to write my own music

1 p.m. — Higher, faster, louder: BETTER!

2:30 p.m. Concert — Hamp’s Gala

Traditional festival kick-off, features performances from UI students and faculty

Friday, Feb. 26

8:30 a.m. — Jazz and the art of listening with Stefon Harris

10 a.m. — Invite others into your groove with Jeff Hamilton

11:30 a.m. — Meet the artist with Säje

1 p.m. — Artistic business decisions with John Wittman and Jalissa Gascho

2:30 p.m. — Electric effects with Robin Eubanks

5 p.m. Concert

Live UI broadcast of vocal group Säje

Performance by Lionel Hampton School of Music GRAMMY Museum Affiliate Collective

Saturday, Feb. 27

8:30 a.m. — The jazz trombonist’s toolbox with John Fedchock

10 a.m. — A life in music with Randy Brecker

11:30 a.m. — Meet the artist with Camille Thurman

1 p.m. — Creative collaboration with Veronica Swift and Emmet Cohen

2:30 p.m. — Lionel Hampton: “king of the Vibes” masterclass with Jason Marsalis

5 p.m. Concert

Live UI broadcast of multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Camille Thurman

Performance by Lionel Hampton School of Music GRAMMY Museum Affiliate Collective