search engine by freefind advanced
CivicLifeSportsSchoolsBusinessFoodOur HomesLetters/OpinionsCalendar

Published July 3rd, 2024
Young singers dazzle at Lamorinda Idol performance in Lafayette
Lila Weis and Mia Cortesio harmonize together with "My Love, My Life" from Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. Photo Elaine Borden Chandler

On Friday evening, 31 Lamorinda students waited with anticipation in Lafayette Plaza while around them their friends and families settled down on picnic blankets. Little children chased after one another around their seated parents, takeout boxes were ripped open and bags of cut watermelon were hauled out of huge wicker baskets, and families eagerly tried to find on a space the shady half of the lawn. It was the last Rock the Plaza of 2024 and the crowd had come to see the singers of Lamorinda Idol perform.
Lamorinda Idol is a singing program where local students compete to win in eight categories. These singers have already gone through auditions in May and are now working towards the final competition in August. On this day, they performed their competition songs in Lafayette. Students ranged from students of Acalanes to Wagner Ranch and from boisterous elementary school students to seasoned high school seniors. Svea Peterson, who opened the performance and received whoops for her fantastic sustained note in "Gravity", has won seven different awards in past competitions.
Not only was the skill of the students incredible, the variety of songs performed was impressive. The most popular choices were pop songs and Broadway tunes. Miles Peter, a third grader from Wagner Ranch with a soft husky speaking voice and belting singing voice, sang "I Just Can't Wait to Be King" from The Lion King. Quinn Pennington, after giving a fantastic rendition of Olivia Newton-John's "Magic", bluntly commented on how her background music was about to abruptly cut off, to the crowd's amusement. Margaret Meckes superbly handled the R&B stylings of Nancy Wilson's 1964 hit "How Glad I Am." Vedica Rajaraman shyly danced while she confidently sang Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance with Somebody." Colette Goodman, who earlier had performed "Defying Gravity" with Cara Impallomeni and Ceci Bayley, wistfully sang "Ring of Keys" from the Broadway musical Fun Home.
Jolie Xu was one of the singers this year, performing the song "Stay" with her friend, neighbor, and classmate Colette Burke. While the girls sang skillfully on stage, Xu's sister and friend scampered about in the crowd with big smiles and signs that said "Go Jolie and Coco!" Xu was a finalist in last year's Lamorinda Idol and said that this year she had less stage fright. "I really like singing so when I heard about this competition I wanted to do it because I thought it was a good experience and fun," she explained and then added with a mischievous smile, "Also kind of because there was a prize."
The audience was enthusiastic and relaxed, alternating between chatting amongst themselves and watching the singers pull out all the stops. The parents of a particular singer could always be located because they would either be beaming with uncontrollable delight or have their phone out, filming their child with steady hands and serious expressions. However, it was more than just families who came. Many people throughout the community came to support singers they knew. Kim Bertolini came to support her neighbor Susie Lien, who sang "The Square Root of Possible." "She has her performance third," said Bertolini, pointing out a high-spirited Lien from where she sat on a bench in a blue dress and bronze sunglasses. "We have a Whatsapp group called `Let's Support Susie."
The performance also included surprise appearances from Nejla Ackdoe-Pagey and Lleyton Allen, multiple time winners of past Lamorinda Idols. Ackdoe-Pagey sang "Remedy" by Adele, soulfully gazing out over the crowd. She was followed by Allen, who sang "You'll Be Back" from Hamilton, complete with British accent. After their performances, they encouraged interested students to participate in Lamorinda Idol. "If you think something is cool, and you feel cool doing it too and you want to try it, just go for it," said Ackdoe-Pagey. Lleyton Allen added, "Just do it - really get up there and do it right. Why do half of it? If you really do like it, if it's a passion of yours and you really want to do it, just do it!"
The evening was closed out by Lila Weis and Mia Cortesio singing "My Love, My Life" as the sun finally dipped under the horizon. As the last wave of applause ended, Harwood stepped on stage and reminded the audience of the judged final performance on Aug. 18. "So long, and see you next time," he said and the crowd, cheerful and cool in the summer evening, folded up their picnic blankets, hugged and congratulated singers, and walked back to their cars.
More information on Lamorinda Idol can be found at https://lamorindaarts.org/idol-2/.

Send your comment to:
Reach the reporter at:

This article was published on Page 2 / 10:

Quick Links for LamorindaWeekly.com
send artwork to:
Classified ads
Lamorinda Service Directory
About us and How to Contact us
Letter to the Editor
Send stories or ideas to:
Send sports stories and photos to:
Subscribe to receive a delivered or mailed copy
Subscribe to receive storylinks by email
Our Homes
Copyright Lamorinda Weekly, Moraga CA