Six students chosen for final round of 2015 Dartmouth Idol

by Amelia Rosch | 2/3/15 6:45pm

02-04-15-arts-dartmouth-idol-natalie-cantave
Last night’s Dartmouth Idol semifinals included 25 semifinalists, about half of whom had previously competed.
by Natalie Cantave / The Dartmouth

In front of a packed Spaulding Auditorium, 25 students battled to earn one of six finalist spots in the eighth annual Dartmouth Idol competition yesterday evening.

The 2015 finalists were Charli Fool Bear-Vetter ’15, Audrey Djiya ’17, Tara Joshi ’18, Danielle Piacentile ’17, Danny Rogers ’15 and Chris Yih ’17.

This year’s semifinalists included 10 seniors, two juniors, nine sophomores and four freshmen. Around half of the semifinalists have competed in Dartmouth Idol in the past.

Whether they are new to the Idol process or have competed multiple times, contestants said that their love for music motivated them to audition.

Annie Medina ’18, who is competing in Dartmouth Idol for the first time, said that she decided to compete because she has always loved to sing and wanted to try performing in front of a large crowd.

David Clossey ’16 is competing in Idol for the third time this year. He said that he continues to compete because he enjoys how the competition brings together a wide variety of talented students.

“There are kids who are from a cappella groups, kids who only sing in the shower,” he said. “It brings together all these people for this really tremendous show.”

Foster Song ’17 said that he had planned to compete last year because he had sung in high school but “chickened out.”

Piacentile, who competed in Idol last year and was a back-up singer in the finals, said that she decided to audition due to encouragement from members of the Sing Dynasty, her a cappella group.

She said that last year’s experience in the competition, specifically getting to work with Dartmouth Idol founder and music director Walt Cunningham, motivated her to return this year. She said that working with Cunningham also inspired her to join the Dartmouth College Gospel Choir, which Cunningham also directs.

Students competing in Idol face many challenges, from trouble at rehearsal to building up the confidence needed to perform to technical issues with their songs.

Piacentile said that her biggest difficulty was the sound check, during which they ran into technical challenges because of the snow. She said that the sound check was also intimidating because it made her realize the level of talent in the competition.

“It’s hard to stand out and remain true to your self as an artist,” she said.

Joshi also said the sound check made her realize the level of singing in the competition.

“They were freaking awesome, really, really talented,” she said. “It was a little intimidating.”

Medina said that maintaining her confidence as she sings has been a big challenge for her, especially since she is competing against seniors.

“They told me at the sound check that I need to own my song,” she said. “I know the words and how to sing it, it’s just shaking and nerves and stuff like that.”

She said that she was originally scheduled to be the first singer in the lineup but asked to be moved to perform second.

Teddy Romeyn ’17, who is competing in Idol for the first time this year, said that singing a solo in front of a large audience has been his biggest challenge, since he does not have experience singing in front of many people. He said that he has also been working on controlling his nerves when he sings.

“Getting up and exposing yourself to potentially hundreds of people is really tough,” he said. “It is really nerve-wracking.”

Jessica Kocan ’18 said that technical aspects of the song she will be performing — Professor Green’s “Read All About It” (2011), featuring Emeli Sandé — such as singing falsetto, have been a challenge for her.

Chris Gallerani ’15, who will be singing “Rehab” (2006) by Amy Winehouse, said that figuring out how to perform his song has been the biggest challenge.

“I feel like I have command over my own voice, but taking an iconic song by an iconic artist and making it my own and singing it in my own way is hard,” he said.

Despite the pressures of Dartmouth Idol, students involved said that they have enjoyed discovering other talented singers and working with Cunningham.

Romeyn said that he has appreciated the positive energy of Cunningham and the other judges.

“Instead of critiquing you, they find something positive you do and highlight that even more,” he said. “It makes you more aware of your strengths and how to use those strengths.

Gallerani said he is glad he had the opportunity to work with Cunningham throughout the competition.

Clossey said that he has continued doing Idol because of the level of talent it brings together.

“There are so many talented kids here,” he said. “It’ll be hard for the audience to choose who to vote for because the competition is so incredibly strong.”

Piacentile said that competing against the other students has been “an honor.” She said that the fact that there were 25 finalists, instead of the original plan to have a maximum of 24, is a testament to the level of talent in this year’s Idol.

Medina said that she has enjoyed getting closer to her freshman floor as a result of the competition. Many members of her floor were there when she found out she made it to the semifinals, and she said that her entire floor planned on supporting her at the performance.

Kocan said that she has enjoyed the support she has received both from other students competing in Idol and her wider circle of friends.

In the semifinals, contestants had to perform solo one song that was a maximum of five minutes long, as well perform in at least one group number.

Deby Guzman-Buchness ’15 and Harrison Perkins ’18 hosted this year’s semifinals, while Megan Ramirez ’09, Marcus Reid ’18 and Elizabeth Roberts ’00 helped with the judging process.

The finalists were chosen based on audience votes and judges’ scores.

The winner of Dartmouth Idol will receive a $500 prize and the chance to record a two-song demo. The second and third place winners will win $250 and $100 respectively.

The Dartmouth Idol finals will be on March 6 in 8 p.m. at Spaulding Auditorium. Tickets for students will be five dollars, and tickets for the general audience will be between $10 and $15.