Editor's note: This article has been updated to correct the date of the event.

A benefit concert is slated for the first weekend of May to honor a former Sedalian who died too soon.

The Jordan Ali Halane Music Scholarship (JAHMS) will benefit students who wish to continue their music education in college. The concert scholarship fundraiser, to be hosted at the Hayden Liberty Center Association for the Arts, May 3, will honor Jordan Halane, who graduated from Smith-Cotton High School. During his life Halane influenced the lives of music students not only in Sedalia but also in Texas and New York.

Halane’s childhood friend, Brenton Ryan, a professional opera singer who performs frequently with the Metropolitan Opera in New York and with other major U.S. and international houses, conceived the idea to honor Halane.  

“Jordan and I grew up together from the time I moved to Sedalia in 1995, and we were inseparable friends from then on through our graduation from Smith Cotton in 2005,” Ryan said by email while touring in France recently. “We were both heavily involved in music and singing, and we both decided to pursue music in college and in our careers.

“I went on to study music performance, and Jordan went on to study music education, and we occasionally kept in touch throughout the years after we left Sedalia,” he continued. “Needless to say, I was devastated to learn of his sudden death, as were so many people whose lives Jordan had touched.”

Ryan went to Halane’s funeral in Houston, Texas, and later attended a memorial service in New York City, where Halane worked before moving to Texas.

“The service in New York was held at his former place of employment, called ‘City Year’ – a nonprofit organization of teachers who go into at-risk neighborhoods and teach, tutor, and mentor students,” Ryan noted.

Ryan said that after leaving New York City, Halane became the vocal music director of a public school in Houston.

“Shortly after I attended his services, I had the idea to start a music scholarship in his name, and I reached out to the SSDFoundation (Sedalia School District 200),” he said. “Come to find out, fellow classmate Tarah Toellner (Arnold) had a similar idea, so we decided to join forces.”

“I graduated with Jordan and Brent as well,” Toellner said in March. “I didn’t know Jordan musically, I knew him from the leadership side. We did student council and that sort of thing together.

“He was the most caring charismatic person that you could have met,” she continued. “He had a heart of gold. He was really outgoing and didn’t know a stranger, he was compassionate. He always kept everyone in check.”

Ryan said the glue that held the two together was a “brotherhood” formed with fellow friend Brian Limbaugh.

“Jordan, Brian and I often referred to one another as ‘brother.’” he said. “So, I guess when it comes down to it, we were family.”

Ryan, Tollener and his mother Gena Swearingen said the event is progressing well.

“There are a lot of Smith-Cotton alumni who have volunteered to sing in the Alumni Choir, conducted by Sandy Cordes,” Ryan said. “Tarah Arnold has had an outpouring of support from local businesses who are contributing to the silent auction.”

The trio are also receiving support from Ann Faaborg, Anna Ramirez, Krista Kempton and many others. The program will include performances by Ryan, Studio A Dance Company and special messages from Halane’s wife Claire Casuyon-Halane and Mayor John Kehde.

As of March $7,000, had been raised toward the scholarship fund which will be awarded in the spring of 2020.

Ryan said the most important thing he wants others to remember about Halane is his gentle and thoughtful personality.

“Jordan’s incredible spirit, his compassion, and most of all his ability to bring people together were traits that I will never forget, nor will anyone else who knew him,” Ryan said.

The Jordan Ali Halane Music Scholarship benefit concert will be hosted Saturday, May 3 at the Hayden Liberty Center Association for the Arts, 111 W. Fifth St. The doors open at 6 p.m. with a silent auction; the concert will begin at 7 p.m. The cost is $15 for adults; $10 for students and senior citizens; children under age 5 are free. Those who cannot attend may purchase a TIS or There in Spirit ticket. Tickets may be purchased at www.libertycentersedalia.com/events-shows.

Arts & Entertainment Reporter

Faith Bemiss is a reporter for the Sedalia Democrat, covering general assignment, arts, food and entertainment stories. She can be reached at 660-530-0289.

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