Anticipation was high in Robsham Theater for the 15th-annual Sing it to the Heights competition, as friends and family members of the 10 contestants claimed their seats early. The event is organized by the Emerging Leader Program (ELP) as a fundraiser for St. Columbkille Partnership School’s music program. This year Fr. Billy Biegler, S.J.; Fr. César Muziotti, S.J.; and Fr. Don MacMillan, S.J. served as the “Jesuit Judges” of the American Idol-esque competition.
To kick off the show, students from St. Columbkille’s own junior choir took the stage to perform a cover of “Fix my Eyes” by For King and Country. The uniform-clad kids elicited ‘awws’ from the audience as they danced enthusiastically along to the chorus.
Rachel Lim, CSOM ’19, was the first contestant to perform, with an understated cover of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” Lim’s rendition was more wistful and melancholy than Adele’s, but when she reached the bridge, she became more impassioned, and the audience followed suit, clapping along.
Things took a romantic turn when Jack Peterson, MCAS ’20, sang a slow, soulful cover of Louis Armstrong’s “La Vie En Rose.”
“How many people have you made swoon with that song?” Biegler said, half-jokingly.
Kate Yager, MCAS ’22, employed her powerful voice in a rendition of “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles. Yager accompanied herself on the piano, playing simple, jazzy chords.
As Anthony Zhao, CSOM ’19, settled behind the piano, he joked that he was continuing the trend of pensive piano covers. Indeed, his version of “Slow Dancing in the Dark” by Joji was a dramatic display that paired his breathy voice with rich, resounding chords.
The pace of the show quickened with Olivia Constantino’s lively performance. Singing “Never Enough” by Lauren Allred, Constantino, MCAS ’21, drew amazed cheers from the audience with her soaring vocal range.
Dalton Letorney, MCAS ’21, immediately won over the crowd with his friendly stage presence. His cover of Chris Stapleton’s “Fire Away” highlighted his rich, expressive voice.
It was clear that Ian Goodman, CSOM ’19, felt completely at ease in the spotlight. He strutted across the stage and performed ambitious vocal flourishes during his performance of “Do For You” by Avery Wilson.
“I got goose pimples, man!” exclaimed Biegler in response.
The competition reached an emotional climax with Jamarii Johnson’s rendition of Christina Aguilera’s “Hurt.” Johnson, MCAS ’22, belted over an instrumental backing track.
“Triple threat” Tate Haynes, MCAS ’21, proved to be not only a football player, but a skilled singer and piano player. His cover of “River” by Leon Bridges displayed effortless vocal runs while impressing the Jesuit Judges with his spiritually-themed song choice.
The last contestant Mia O’Connell, MCAS ’22, gave a fun, high-energy performance of “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys. O’Connell swayed to the groove as she sang with passion.
The audience was invited to vote through text while the judges deliberated. Meanwhile, the St. Columbkille Select Choir sang a cover of “Africa” by Toto, and last year’s Sing it to the Heights winner Stavros Piperis, MCAS ’19, returned to perform “Every Breaking Wave” by U2.
Finally, the winners were announced. Haynes took first place, with Goodman and Letorney receiving second and third place respectively. Baldwin the Eagle bounded on stage to take pictures with a grinning Haynes, wrapping up a triumphant night that once again delivered its goal to support the students of St. Columbkille.
Featured Image by Maggi DiPatri / Heights Editor