Photo at Left: Hopewell Valley Youth Chorale Mic Drop winning group XAM (Koji Sakano, India Anderson, Gian Lombardo, Ian Willick, Jillian Ashcraft and Max Donaldson). 

Hopewell Valley Vineyards turned into a budding star-studded showcase of some of the area’s finest musical talent, replete with red carpet and a step-and-repeat backdrop for paparazzi-style pics, as the Hopewell Valley Youth Chorale hosted its first annual Mic Drop 2017 music competition fundraiser on April 29 with the aim of bringing people together enjoy a night of music within the community.

The top honors on the evening ended up going to XAM, a jazz ensemble consisting of Hopewell Valley Central High School students India Anderson, Jillian Ashcraft, Max Donaldson, Gian Lombardo, Koji Sakano and Ian Willick. Along with the top prize, the members of Xam received $500.

Second prize went to Dan Kassel, the neo-classical cellist who performed a live-looping original song and a Nirvana cover. Third prize went to Con Brio, the high school’s competitive mixed A-Capella group.

Seven acts of varying genres competed, HVYC executive director Deborah Zeller said. “We purposefully selected a variety of music to celebrate the high-quality talent that we have in our own backyard,” she said.

In addition to the winning performances, other musicians included Caroline Herbert and Bruce Nagy, soloist Laura Zoog, Westminster Choir College’s new a cappella group Noted, and Trenton-area R&B band Beautiful Ivory. Castle Lane capped the night off with R&B/funk/jazz music with guests and performers dancing along.

Judges for the event included jazz and blues singer, Wenonah Brooks; Steven Allen, professor of music at Rider University; Scott Burnham, Scheide Professor of Music History Emeritus at Princeton; and HVCHS’s own accomplished musician, Bryan Hill.

“I could not have hoped for a better night,” said Michele Alford, founder and creative director for Hopewell Valley Youth Chorale. “I was just blown away with the quality of this event. I am so grateful for all of those who gave their time and efforts to help make this a reality.”