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music scENE

County Idol?’ Number one answer: they love to sing and perform.”

“I think that our community is very

generous in providing opportunities for our youth to have a microphone, lighting, a stage and support to go out there,” Feldman said. “Not a lot of communities have that. Venues like the DCA and [Tird Avenue Playhouse]... there’s so many opportunities to be on stage and have an audience.”

Most of the kids who turn out for auditions have a long list of previ- ous performance experience in school choirs, plays and community theater. Each year around 20 kids audition for Door County Idol, of which six to eight are chosen to compete. Nelson recruits three arts professionals from around the Door Peninsula – directors, performers, musicians and radio personalities – to judge the competition.

After auditions, choosing which two

songs to sing provides the next, and per- haps the biggest, challenge. Tey need to choose songs that contrast one anoth- er, while equally complementing their voice and personality.

Zephyr Ciesar, Gibraltar senior and

2010 Door County Idol, said, “Choos- ing the song was one of the biggest chal- lenges. I changed my second song two weeks before the competition because I felt like it didn’t show the audience who I was as much as it should. I changed it to ‘At Last’ by Etta James, which was the best decision I could have made. It showed more emotion and was more real – a better fit for my voice.”

Te next hurdle for contestants is

background music. If they can play an instrument, such as guitar or piano, contestants can easily accompany them- selves. If not, they must find an accom- panist, or a CD with the karaoke version of a song. Ten they practice, practice, practice. Trevor Hietpas, a Sevastopol senior

and contestant in 2010, said, “Mostly we practiced and learned our songs by ourselves. Rehearsals were an idea bouncing session, and often a seasoned performer would give you tips. I learned how to put more personality into the role so that the audi- ence really gets a picture of you.”

Hietpas accom-

panied himself on guitar during his first song, Green Day’s “Good Rid- dance,” and again on piano during his second song, “Superman” by Five for Fighting.

“Te biggest challenge is finding out

how to take a song that’s performed per- fectly by the original artist and perform it really well as yourself,” Hietpas said.

While most of the contestants have a

lot of talent from the get-go, by going through the rehearsal process they learn the day-to-day work of a performer. By staying on task learning the lyrics and choreography, they have that much more confidence on the performance night.

Nelson said, “With the rehearsals

and performance, the kids gain a lot of stage time. Tey get coaching from professionals, people with many years of experience in the field. Tey build relationships with each other and make contacts. Tey have someone to reach out to and ask questions in the future.”

Alan Kopischke, Development Direc-

tor for the Peninsula Players Teatre, has participated in Door County Idol from many different angles: audience mem- ber, talent coach, judge, and in 2011 as a contestant’s dad.

“You want to make sure you’re giving

the contestants helpful comments – ac- knowledging how they’re succeeding and also giving them some things to fo- cus on as they continue performing,” he said. “Now, they’re teens, many of them performing in front of an audience for the first time. You don’t want to go all Simon Cowell on them. But you want to give them something helpful and give the audience something helpful, too. You’re also there for the audience, trying to give them a context for these perfor- mances they’re enjoying.”

Winter 2011/2012 Door County Living 31

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