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“American Idol,” Westport Style

One of the many cool things about Westport is the number of intriguing, creative and joyful events happening here.

Some get great publicity:  Playhouse shows, library talks, the BBQ and Blues Festival.

Others fly below the radar.  Be truthful:  How many of you knew that this weekend 16 of the world’s most promising concert vocalists will travel here, to compete for major cash prizes?

I sure didn’t.  And the event — the Heida Hermanns International Vocal Competition — has been going on for 37 years.

Heida Hermanns and John Corigliano (father of today's composer).

The singers really do come from around the world.  Westport music lovers will host them — and ferry them to and from  Town Hall, where the competition is held.

Next Saturday (Dec. 4), from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the 16 vocalists — selected from dozens of entrants — will perform before a panel of professional judges.  The challenging auditions are scheduled for 20-minute intervals, and the public is invited to come any time.

On Sunday at 3 p.m., the 6 finalists compete.  The audience is then invited to a reception, while the judges decide who will win $10,000.  It’s not “American Idol” cash, unfortunately — especially because our performers are so much better.

(The competition is named for longtime Westport resident Heida Hermanns, a concert pianist, music lover and promoter.  A child prodigy and Jewish refugee, she fled Nazi Germany with her 2 great loves: her husband Artur Holde, and the music in her heart.

Tickets for the finals — $20; those 18 years and under are admitted free — are available at the door, or by calling 203-319-8271.)

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