‘Dartmouth Idol' semis will feature 25 performers

by Marina Shkuratov | 1/30/13 11:00pm

Monte Reed '12 was named the winner in last year's
by Dennis Ng / The Dartmouth

Six of these semifinalists will move on to compete in the finals, which are scheduled to take place in March.

The semifinalists were chosen from a pool of 60 who auditioned, according to College Gospel Choir director Walt Cunningham, who is responsible for creating, producing and directing the show.

Students were asked to perform a song of their choosing in front of a panel consisting of Cunningham, Hopkins Center student performance programs director Joshua Kol '93 and Kaitlyn Sheehan '09, a finalist in the 2009 "Dartmouth Idol" competition.

The audition process also included an interview component that allowed the panelists to learn about the students' motivations for participating in the show.

This year marks the largest number of students to advance to the semifinal round of "Dartmouth Idol" in recent history, Cunningham said. The unusually high number of semifinalists is a reflection of the amount of talented and charismatic people who came out to audition.

Hop student relations advisor Serena Nelson '12 said that the sheer number of competitors this year means it will be more difficult for audience members and judges to decide the six who will move on to the finals. The large number of students could result in some ties, she said.

Cunningham said that having more competitors will allow "Dartmouth Idol" to reflect a larger proportion of students from across campus and build up excitement surrounding the event.

"I hope the hype is up," he said. "We're trying to make sure that different constituencies are involved in the [semifinals]. I think we have a wider cross section of campus reflected."

The amount of talented competitors in the semifinals has made it difficult for Cunningham to predict who will move on to the final round.

"The most exciting thing about this year is every year in the past, I've been able to predict to about 50 or 60 percent accuracy who will be in the finals," he said. "This year, I have no idea."

David Clossey '16, a semifinalist who sings in the Dartmouth Aires and the Dartmouth College Glee Club, made it to the semifinals by auditioning with a rendition of The Beatles' "Let It Be."

Clossey said he auditioned for the event because it offered the chance to interact with a variety of singers from across campus.

"I'm in an a capella group on campus, so I know 18 vocalists really well," he said. "There could be thousands more who have really great voices, and this program enables these people to come out and give it their all and sing. I think it's a really empowering program."

Sophia Vazquez '14, a semifinalist who also took part in last year's semifinal round, said she chose to participate because the opportunity to perform in front of a live audience is always exhilarating.

"You feed off of each other's energy," she said. "You come off the stage with what people call runner's high, and you just want to do it again. That's what I love about performing, just how much excitement and energy there is."

Daniel Calano '15, a member of the Dodecaphonics who starred in last year's production of "Hairspray," said that "Idol" offers students a chance to perform in a context outside of what they are used to.

"I wanted to audition mainly because it's a very different type of performance from what I've done in the past at Dartmouth or elsewhere," he said. "Being able to sing a song on my own with a professional band behind me would be an incredible experience."

Calano said that while he hopes to progress in the competition, his main goal is to enjoy the process.

"It would be really cool to win or even make it to the finals, and while I would love that, I'm really in it to have fun," Calano said. "To just have that experience and sing on that stage and perform with other incredible performers. I only have the next few years to be able to do something like this."

Michael Zhu '14, a semifinalist and member of the Dartmouth Cords, said that the larger number of semifinalists in this year's competition makes him both enthusiastic and nervous. While it is exciting to see so many talented competitors, the high number also decreases each individual's chance of making it into the finals, he said.

Zhu said that his main goal Friday will be to engage the audience with his song choice and performance.

"I guess the point of singing always is to make some sort of connection with the audience," he said. "That's all I can really hope for, and that people like it enough to vote for me."