A Capella Groups Raise Awareness for Childhood Cancer

“You’ve heard about Stokes Set. You’ve heard about Modstock. But you haven’t heard about Acapellafest!” declared the hosts—Aidan Fitzpatrick, CSOM ’20, and Shea Rulon, CSOM ’20—at Friday night’s Acapellafest in Robsham Theater. 

Though not as broadly advertised as Modstock or Stokes Set, what Acapellafest offers is a night of vocal performance in exchange for donation to a good cause. Partnered with The Morgan Center, a preschool for children with cancer, and hosted by The Acoustics, Acapellafest presented performances by Boston College’s a capella groups: The Bostonians, The Common Tones, The Sharps, The Heightsmen, The Dynamics, and Black Experience in America Through Song (B.E.A.T.S.), in addition to The Acoustics. The night also became the launch event for The Morgan Center’s new initiative: “Go the Extra Mile,” a social media movement designed to promote awareness for childhood cancer. All of the proceeds from the event were donated to The Morgan Center.   

The night kicked off with The Acoustics, who scattered their performances throughout the night, beginning with X Ambassadors’ “Hey Child” and later performing “Burning House” by Cam. The Bostonians followed with a mashup of pop songs. The group moved from Khalid’s “Talk,” Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello’s “Señorita,” and Halsey’s “Without Me” before jumping into Lizzo’s “Good as Hell”—naturally, the audience took to this blend of pop music, vocalizing their affinity for Lizzo’s lyrics, candidly sung by newly minted member JV Fluehr, MCAS ’23. Many of BC’s a capella groups were premiering performances by new members that night.    

The Common Tones picked up on the pop tones, starting with “When I was Her Man” by Bruno Mars, then opting for another Shawn Mendes’ song, “Lost in Japan.” Their group stood out for featuring a female beatboxer, Madeline McCullough, MCAS ’20, as the base for their song selections. These smooth pop songs set The Sharps (the all-female a capella group celebrating their 30-year anniversary) up for Billie Eilish’s slow and somber “When The Party’s Over,” led by Bianca Tjoeng, MCAS ’22. Switching gears, they eased into Queen’s “Somebody to Love,” dancing to the lyrics, only pausing for one of their members to step forward into a dramatic voice-over air guitar solo.  

The Heightsmen of Boston College then took the stage, livening the pace and speeding through genres of classic rock and pop ballads, like the band Boston’s “More Than a Feeling,” Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer,” Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin,” and a few others. Each song-switch welcomed a Heightsman to be front and center for a solo or duet, demonstrating the group’s flexibility and talent. The group came together for “Africa” by Toto and then finished their set with Bing Crosby’s “Penny’s from Heaven,” led by member Justin Panzarino, CSOM ’20.

The Boston College Dynamics followed, performing Alina Baraz’s “Electric” and Ariana Grande’s “Breathin.” B.E.A.T.S. started their performance by asking the audience to stand for the “Black National Anthem,” a starting point for every B.E.A.T.S. set and a moving group performance that delivered on vocals and a message.  B.E.A.T.S. then closed their set by performing TLC’s “No Scrubs.”

The Acoustics rejoined the stage for the final performance. Walking onto the stage, their members had put on “Go the Extra Mile” t-shirts, a last reminder to audience members to support the Morgan Center, and thank them for attending the show. They closed with Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black,” interwoven with Adele’s “Skyfall.”

Featured Image by Aneesa Wermers / Heights Staff