Students perform for charity in ‘Idol’ contest

Audience members voted Nora Rothman ’08 the winner of Harvard-Westlake Idol in a charity singing competition March 9 featuring 10 singers.

The competition was a fundraiser organized by Sarah McMahon ’08 and hosted by Justin Kuritzkes ’08 in Rugby Auditorium.

Competitors sang in front of three judges and an audience. Audience members voted on a winner for the evening. Rothman sang “I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl” by Nina Simone and received two tickets to American Idol and an iPod Shuffle.

The event was judged by actress Rita Wilson (Chet Hanks ’09), former guitarist of the band YES Trevor Rabin and history teacher Eric Zwemer.

Around 25 to 30 singers auditioned for the competition over two days, McMahon said. The Yiddish Wizards, a band made up of seniors, also auditioned for the competition, but the competitive portion of the show was for solo singers.

 The Yiddish Wizards became the house band and played in between competitors.
“We still really wanted [the Yiddish Wizards] to be part of the event, so Bryan [Kurtzman ’08], Zack [Goldman ’08] and Amy [Shaughnessy ’08] became the house band and they were fabulous,” McMahon said.

The proceeds went to Surfrider Foundation in honor of Dillon Henry, McMahon’s friend who was killed last summer in a car accident. Henry attended Pacific Palisades High School and had finished his junior year before the accident.
Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans and beaches through conservation, activism, research and education.

“Dillon was an amazing person who cared about making a difference in the world,” McMahon said. “Harvard-Westlake Idol was a fun and entertaining way to raise money for an important cause and honor something that Dillon really loved: surfing.  Dillon was a passionate surfer who co-chaired the Ocean Awareness Club at Pali High, so it is the perfect organization in which to honor him.”

“I thought the event was charming and impressive and certainly it was for a worthy cause,” Zwemer said. “The singers, without exception, gave very strong performances, and I think they deserve enormous credit for their talent and for their good-natured chutzpah in putting themselves out there.” 

“I had a lot of fun and I enjoyed very much the company of Rita Wilson and Trevor Rabin,” he continued.  “The big story here is Sarah McMahon, whose idea this was, and the efforts of her friends and of the Performing Arts Department in helping her turn the idea into the event.”