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Wellesley Idol returns via video to accommodate social distancing

JP Sunga, a judge and mentor with Wellesley Idol since 2015, will be watching for video submissions to this year’s coronavirus-influenced competition. [Submitted]

Since 2005 Wellesley has held an annual singing competition to showcase the talent of young residents throughout the area. It has been held in conjunction with the Wellesley Apple Butter and Cheese Festival “bringing the community together and encouraging young singers to get up and share their voice.” In 2016, the format was updated to include a mentoring aspect for the eight participants who moved on to the semi-final portion of the competition to inspire confidence in participants and encourage more engaging performances.

This continues into the current year’s competition, but things are shaping up a little differently. Due to the rules on social distancing and crowds implemented because of COVID-19, everything from the initial audition process right down to the final competition has either been changed or is currently up in the air. Auditions are being accepted from those aged 10 to 18 until May 24, and those who wish to participate can submit a video of themselves performing.

Despite the changes being made because of the pandemic, JP Sunga, judge and mentor with Wellesley Idol since 2015, believes the competition can still inspire a group of young performers despite the current conditions.

“Being in this sort of pandemic time, one of the things that we all came together as a team to discuss was ‘should we proceed or should we stop it’ (the completion),” said Sunga. “We thought the youth in the area… (that) they would be missing an opportunity to have this experience and this mentoring program if we chose not to do it this year. We found a way to sort of work with the ‘Idol’ program but make it virtual.”

He says by moving forward with this format – at least for now – they would be able to continue on with the mentoring aspect which he believes is a big part of the competition.

This year, 25 participants can enter for the competition. Once those submissions are received, all applicants and their families will be invited to a video call on May 31 where they will get to join the five judges as each contestant’s video will be played. The judges will give their reactions in real time and the eight who will move on to the summer mentorship and next round will be announced.

He says rules around social distancing will determine how things move forward after that, and whether the Apple Butter and Cheese festival takes place is key for the finals moving forward as they normally would.

For more information, visit The Wellesley Idol Website.

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