Three acts to compete at Northbrook Autumnfest
NORTHBROOK — Three musical acts will compete Saturday at this year’s annual Autumnfest Talent Showdown at Meadowhill Park near Waukegan Road.
“I can tell you that the talent here is so rich,” said Josh Panzow, Northbrook Park District marketing specialist. “Every year we have such great performers come through our Autumnfest Talent Showdown competition and continually you see it through Rock the Green (June) and many competitions we hold throughout the year.”
Ten acts competed at the Sept 28 semifinals at the Northbrook Park District Leisure Center.
The finalists include 7-year-old violinist Foster Ward, a Northbrook Hickory Point School first grader, who captured the hearts of judges with his crisp shirt and composure that went long on sound in the Northbrook Theatre.
Twelve-year-old Liza Birnbaum, a Northbrook Wood Oaks Junior High School seventh grader, is a returning competitor. Her rendition of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” soared to judges perched high in the theatre grandstands.
The final act to make the showdown are the dueling guitars of Charlie Laughlin and Maxine Nusinow, a pair of 16-year-old Glenbrook North High School juniors.
Being one of three finalists speaks to the Betty Haag Academy of Music student in Ward.
“It’s so fun to play, and it’s my heart that enjoys it,” he said, softly, as the faces of his parents beamed in the dim lobby after their son’s big announcement.
“We knew from the very beginning he’s a musical person,” said Matt Ward, Foster’s father.
Birnbaum, who has three siblings, picked Adele because “she has a pretty voice.”
“The Northbrook Park District sets up a lot of opportunities I can participate in,” she said. “Everyone is so nice and they put on great programs.”
Laughlin and Nusinow, who channeled Rodrigo Y Gabriela’s “Buster Voodoo,” answered post-performance questions shotgun style, like their dueling guitars.
How do you feel as a finalist?
“Good,” said Charlie.
“Cool,” said Maxine.
“Chill,” said Charlie.
“Nice,” said Maxine.
In short, both Northbrook-based Christopher Laughlin School of Music students (Charlie is Christopher’s son, Maxine also works there as a receptionist) are stoked for Autumnfest.
“Northbrook is a fantastic arts town,” said Christopher Laughlin, school owner and longtime Highlands neighborhood resident. “It’s a great town to raise your kids in.”