‘More than a performance’

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The Great American Songbook Vocal Competition brings young performers and professional talent to Carmel

The finalists will perform individually, as a group and alongside the professional judges. (Submitted photo)

This Friday, The Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Initiative will host The Great American Songbook Final High School Vocal Competition. This annual event showcases high school talent from the Midwest and now a large portion of the country while giving students a week of professional-quality education with several award-winning celebrity performers.

“We originally saw (the competition) as our chance to expose youth to this great music,” said Chris Lewis, The Great American Songbook Initiative’s Director of Education, “but now, it goes beyond simply achieving our initial mission. Now there is a huge educational component as well.”

Lewis

The first competition was held in 2009 and included five states across the Midwest. Selected students took part in an initial competition within their state. From there, finalists were determined and performed in the final which included a monetary prize to the winner and runners-up.

Last year, the competition went on a brief hiatus while waiting for the completion of the Palladium. Coming back from this break, Lewis took the opportunity to increase the scope of the competition as well as enhance the educational component.

“Originally if 100 students entered, only about 10 would experience the academy,” said Lewis.

This year, the competition has been expanded to four different regions, two of which include New York and California. Through expanded online registration, the competition received nearly 200 applicants from across the country. Finalists were then chosen in several regional competitions, each featuring one-day of master classes and workshops. Now, 40 students get to experience the Academy which was one of the Initiative’s primary goals.

The finalists are attending the complete academy experience all this week in Indianapolis. A wide array of classes and workshops are being taught by industry veterans and celebrity professionals such as Michael Feinstein, Sandy Patti and Sylvia McNair. While the students’ personal experience levels may vary, the aim of the academy is to help them become as great a performer and a professional as possible.

“We have seen 18 year olds that are already accepted to a program coming in really polished and then 14 year old freshmen that are also really strong so it’ll be interesting,” said Lewis.

The final performance will feature several musical numbers including the competition’s finalists and group numbers featuring many of the celebrity judges such as Michael Feinstein and Sandi Patti.

“It’s less American Idol and more… something that I can’t really describe,” said Lewis. “It’s going to be an incredible show.”

The Great American Songbook Vocal Competition will be held this Friday at 7 p.m. at Palladium (1 Center Green, Carmel). Tickets are $25 to $50 general, $10 student and included in admission to Saturday’s Encore Celebration. Tickets are available online at thecenterfortheperformingarts.org.


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