For the last 15 years, Boston College students have faced off in a friendly singing competition, staged—literally—by the members of the Emerging Leader Program (ELP). All proceeds from “Sing It to the Heights,” which will take place this Thursday, will be donated to the musical arts program at Boston’s St. Columbkille Partnership School. Last year’s competition raised approximately $4,000, and as the day of the competition approaches, organizers and contestants alike are hoping for an even stronger turnout this week.
“I’ve been waiting to perform in this show for a year, and the anticipation has been really building up,” said Dalton Letorney, MCAS ’21, who helped organize the 2018 event as a member of ELP. “Sing It to the Heights is one of BC’s staple musical events.”
Letorney is one of 10 undergraduates who will compete on Thursday. The contestants will sing their chosen song onstage at the Robsham Theatre, and will be reviewed by a panel of judges, usually comprised of three Jesuits. The winner will take home $300, along with the satisfaction of knowing that all of the ticket sale revenue will benefit the students of St. Columbkille.
For the members of ELP, it’s a cause that merits meticulous work.
“We’ve been doing this since towards the end of November,” said Rahul Atluri, MCAS ’22, an ELP participant focusing on marketing and publicity. “We started splitting up into committees to organize and promote the ‘Sing It to the Heights’ event. We had a Chipotle fundraiser, [and] we’ve been trying to get word of mouth out there…to get as many people as possible to buy tickets to support [the] St. Columbkille schools.”
Atluri explained that St. Columbkille, in its K-8 curriculum, seeks to promote many Jesuit values similar to those at the heart of BC’s own mission. Fundraising events like “Sing It to the Heights” are one way in which the University can lend a supportive hand to a school that seeks to develop the whole person, as Boston College does.
“The ‘Sing It to the Heights’ event promotes the heart of the music program there,” he said. “We want to show the [St. Columbkille] students we care about how they express themselves through art and music.”
Children from St. Columbkille often grace the stage with a musical performance of their own, allowing audience members and ELP organizers to see firsthand the benefits of the fundraiser.
The competition is also an opportunity for freshman students, who are tasked with organizing the event, to exercise the Jesuit ideals of charity and character development, which they have inherited as BC students.
“We love the world,” said Atlari. “The best way to show our love is through action. …Promoting and collecting funds, and using those funds to promote music and art at St. Columbkille, is probably one of the best ways we show our Jesuit values.”
Citing the Jesuit motto, ad majorem Dei gloriam (“for the greater glory of God”), Atlari added, “We’re helping students achieve the best they can.”
Competitors, too, can use the opportunity for personal growth. Letorney sees his musical gifts not only as a way for him to develop his own character, but to reach out to others in charity.
“It’s more about using song to do the work of God,” he said. “Using music to heal, to influence other people, to move other people emotionally... I use music to carry [the faith] out.”
Reflecting on the St. Columbkille students, he added, “If I didn’t have music when I was in middle school, in high school, I would not have opened my eyes to so many ways I can heal other people and take care of myself. …If I can donate a ticket or sing a song, so that 70-ish kids can get access to a music program and get that gratification of success, I think that’s really important.”
Tickets are on sale now through the Robsham Theatre box office, linked below. Thursday’s event will take place at 7pm at the Robsham Theatre Arts Center. Audience members can rest assured their price of admission will be perfectly tuned towards BC’s ideals of service and love.
For box office access: https://www.bc.edu/offices/robsham/tickets.html
Editor's note: This article has been corrected to reflect that the prize money allowance for first-place winners is $300, not $500. Additionally, specification has been added that all proceeds (not merely a majority) from ticket revenue will be donated to St. Columbkille School.