The second annual Orinda Idol Competition was held at the Orinda Theater yesterday afternoon with much fanfare. 35 finalists graced the stage throughout the afternoon. 4 winners were announced in a special ceremony beginning at 5:15 pm.
The competition began with the youngsters, Kindergartners through Second graders, beginning at 11:00 am. Jocelyn Purcell was announced the winner ahead of 8 others in her age group.
Next up was the Third through Fifth graders at 12:30. 10 kids competed for the cash prize with Amrita Newton declared the winner. Beautifully done Amrita!
The Middle-Schoolers took the stage next at about 2:00. I was most interested in this age group because my daughter Sophie was a finalist in this division. It amazes me the depth of talent this little community produces. This same feeling was expressed exactly by one of the judges, Matthias Montgomery, Drummer & Vocalist of the SPAZMATICS. This is not San Francisco or Los Angeles. This is little old Orinda, population 18,000. Neris Newton, yes the big sister of the 3rd – 5th grade division winner, Amrita, was named the Orinda Idol for the middle school age group. She did an amazing rendition of the Song “Good Morning Baltimore”, from “Hairspray”. Judge Cesar Cancino, Musical Director, Palazzo & Formerly of Teatro Zinzanni, said during his remarks following Neris’ performance, “I can see you on Broadway.” High praise from someone “In the business”.
The High School division got under way at about 3:45pm with 6 finalists. In the end it was Ben Freeman that stood above the rest as the Orinda Idol.
The Orinda Arts Council does a wonderful job of organizing this event. My daughter Sophie is already looking forward to participating in next years Orinda Idol. The Performance Group, comprised of some of the Middle School and High School finalists, will perform one more time at The Lafayette Art and Wine Festival They will take the KIdzone Stage from 12:30 – 1:30.
Two other judges gave their time generously, San Francisco Opera singer Svetlana Niketenko, and Amy Potozkin, Casting Director, Berkeley Rep Theatre.