Lamorinda Idol Successfully Goes Virtual this Year

Sophia Luo , Staff Writer

When you participate in the Lamorinda Idol, it’s an unforgettable experience. From the auditions to the workshops to the private lessons, every second makes you more excited and maybe a little more nervous. You dream about the stage, the lights, the atmosphere. You imagine stepping out in front of the audience and taking a deep breath, but you realize that’s not what your final performance will look like this year.

The 15th Annual Lamorinda Idol took place virtually this summer due to COVID-19. Despite the inevitable challenges, the Lamorinda Arts Council effectively adapted to a virtual format so singers weren’t deprived of the chance to perform this year.

According to the Participants’ Information Packet, “For 2020, considering COVID-19 and the health of all those involved, Lamorinda Idol was conducted with videos being submitted so as to avoid group gatherings. Videos [were] judged and winners in each category [received] cash prizes only since they wouldn’t have the opportunity to perform at local gatherings such as the Lafayette Art and Wine Festival or routine concerts in the Orinda Park.”

“We were given a list of participants and links to their YouTube videos to watch, as opposed to watching a live performance. We had a window of time to watch each video and then we emailed our picks to the organizers. They had a Zoom to announce the winners and hear from the judges,” Miramonte choir teacher and Lamorinda Idol judge Meredith Hawkins said.

“With COVID-19, obviously there were some challenges with replanning the annual competition. But overall, the competition went phenomenal,” Campolindo junior Lleyton Allen, the ninth through twelfth-grade solo winner, said. “There weren’t any challenges logistically, but it was a bummer not to be able to perform in front of a live audience and watch all the other participants perform for their friends and families.”

This year’s solo winners include Miranda Klein for kindergarten through second-grade, Palig Horouplan for third through fifth-grade, Natalie Schroeder for sixth through eighth-grade, and Lleyton Allen for ninth through twelfth grade. Group winners include The Elkind Sisters (Maya and Sadie Elkind) for kindergarten through fifth-grade, Mina Lim and Svea Peterson for sixth through eighth-grade, and Sabrina Hernandez and Alyssa Vallo for ninth through twelfth grade. Peterson also received the audience award. 

From my own personal experience, when I listen to music that is meaningful to me I can feel my mood shifting. I’ve used it in many ways during this time. In my short speech to the performers I wanted to remind them about the positive side of the competition,” Hawkins said.

“We didn’t have summer performances this year like we did last year. For our Finals, we weren’t able to perform on stage, so we made videos as well and there was a google doc for people to vote for groups and soloists. We all met on Zoom on Aug. 16 where the winners were announced,” sophomore Sabrina Hernandez said. 

Despite only having competed in Lamorinda Idol twice before, Hernandez and her partner, Alyssa Vallo, won first place in the ninth through twelfth division. “I love to sing because it’s my biggest passion. When I sing it’s the only time I have full control and I can express myself. It makes me really happy when people tell me I make them emotional when I sing, which is the main reason I love to sing to make people feel something,” Hernandez said.

Many other contestants have the same perspective as Hernandez. “I definitely think that music is a helpful way to lift up spirits,” Miramonte sophomore Amelia Chen said. “Pandemic, or other, whenever I feel down I can process my emotions using music. I think that both listening to and creating music makes us feel heard.”

“I love to sing because it brings people together. No matter where you are from or what your beliefs are, music brings people together. Music means different things to different people but is really a great way to just escape,” Allen said.

Even though the magic of live performance couldn’t be experienced this year, Lamorinda Idol contestants still had fun and embraced the opportunity to continue competing virtually. Even without the lights, the energy, and the large stage, the same excitement and anticipation still remained in the participants’ heads. This year’s Lamorinda Idol proved that even in a global pandemic, performing and singing still bring the same happiness and hope they always have.