Orinda Idols Take the Stage

Newton, Powell, Depolo and Soso were finalists in the group competition.

Newton, Powell, Depolo and Soso were finalists in the group competition.

Kelsi Lerner and Cameron White

Youth from all over Lamorinda took part in the sixth annual Orinda Idol contest on Sunday, Sept. 11 to determine the most talented singers in the area.

Petra Michel and Susan Garell created Orinda Idol six years ago, inspired by “American Idol.” The contest is sponsored by the Orinda Arts Council’s “Arts in the Schools” program.

This year over 150 people auditioned from 20 different schools.  Auditions were held in April to anyone in grades K-12 and living in the Lamorinda area. Contestants sat before a panel of three judges who selected the finalists. Entries were made in the soloist category or in the group category.

After the auditions, the judges deliberated, and notified the 45 solo performers and 35 groups that would move on to the finals.

The K-2 winner was Sophie Lurie, the 3-5 winner was Michaela Sasner, the middle school winner was Ellie Glade, and the high school winner was Katie Marino, a senior at Campolindo High School.
The winners in the group category from K-5 were the group called Topaz Girls, and the winner from grades 6-12 was a group named Maritza and Katie. Marino also took home the Audience Award.

Marino has been a key player in the Orinda Idol game since 2008 when she debuted as the middle school (grades 6-8) winner as well as the winner of the then-new Audience Award. Marino has been a large part of Orinda Idol ever since.

The Miramonte finalists of the competition were sohomore Sophie Belinn, senior Kevin Depolo, senior Lindsay Kathryn Ford, sophomore Amrita Newton, sophomore Paige Powell, and senior Sofie Woodlee. Miramonte has traditionally had a strong relationship with the Orinda Idol competition, and this year was no different.

Especially notable Miramonte finalists were the group “PACK”, who have been practicing for the Orinda Idol competition for some time now. PACK is an anagram for Paige, Amrita, Carter, Kevin. The members of PACK were very succesful in the Orinda Idol competition.

“It was absolutely out of this world. It was wonderful in every respect,” said Steve Harwood, Chairman of the Orinda Idol committee.

At the finals, celebrity judges gave commentary and judged in the “American Idol” fashion. The Orinda Theater was outfitted with a professional sound system, so contestants could be heard in the greatest quality sound possible.

Behind the scenes, there was a dedicated group of volunteers that worked to make the show happen.  Roxanne Brewer and Natalie Wheeler were in charge of organizing the finals.
“The finals were complicated,” said Harwood.

Terry Riggins of Terry Riggins Photography, Christina Shook, and Clix Portrait Studio all took photos at the event.

Orinda Idol winners will be given the chance to perform a few more times before the year is over. There will be performances at the Orinda Farmers Market, in the Orinda Community Park, the Orinda Car Show, and at the Orinda EFO/Chamber of Commerce Dine Around Town event.