BC Idol Returns On Thursday
Published: Monday, February 25, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 25, 2013 00:02
Nine years ago, six contestants drawn from the Boston College student body and about 50 audience members gathered in the old Chocolate Bar for a singing competition inspired by American Idol. At the time, what became known as BC Idol was a small event, one of a slate of freshman leadership events put on by the Emerging Leader Program, which also included variations of Bingo and The Price Is Right. But as those two events faded into history, BC Idol has continued to gather steam—over the years, the event has gotten bigger and bigger, progressing from the Chocolate Bar to Gasson 100 to the main Robsham stage. Students eager for student-provided entertainment and a chance to blow off steam before Spring Break can come see what the fuss is all about this Thursday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m., as BC Idol 2013 unspools on the main Robsham stage.
BC Idol has expanded impressively since its inception, but it has also grown more focused. The event has always had a fundraising component, and for the first several years the event’s coordinators decided on a year-by-year basis who the money would go to. Two years ago, though, the event’s organizers clicked with a particular organization: the St. Columbkille Partnership School in Brighton. This Catholic elementary school has strong ties to the BC community: in fact, in 2006, amid a wave of local Catholic school closings, University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J. made the decision for BC to enter into a partnership with the school to keep it afloat. The move has paid off in spades, as St. Columbkille has experienced a continuous upturn in admissions and has been able to reach students from all levels of need. Meanwhile, BC’s Lynch School has established a thriving tutoring program with students at St. Columbkille, and BC athletes are frequently involved in mentoring students there.
Two years ago, BC Idol joined the cause in an effort to raise money for a new music program at St. Columbkille. Mer Zovko, the assistant director of leadership development in the Student Programs Office, recalls the moment when the BC Idol partnership began. “When we talked with the headmaster, they were looking to develop a music program but they didn’t have the money for it, and we said this is it, this is the perfect fit.” Since aligning BC Idol exclusively with St. Columbkille two years ago, Zovko says that the event has raised $7,000 and enabled a thriving music program for 70 students.
Such numbers are only possible thanks to the event’s overwhelming support from the BC community, and Zovko and her team have developed a formula that brings in droves. Though modeled on the basic rules of American Idol, the event deviates from its inspiration in a few particulars. One such difference is that the competition allows for duets—this year, two duets will be facing off against eight individual singers for the big prize.
Another unique BC spin on the American Idol formula is the selection of judges: every year, three Jesuits preside over the competition. Returning to the judge’s chair this year is Rev. Don MacMillan, S.J., a longtime veteran of the event. He will be joined by Rev. Michael Davidson, S.J. from Campus Ministry and Rev. Mario Powell, S.J. Zovko hinted that there may be more than just judging in the cards for the Jesuits this year—they will also be doing a performance of their own, though details are being kept under wraps. “That is something new, and they’re hinting at it right now, so it’s exciting,” Zovko said.
Apart from the main competition and the special Jesuit performance, audience members can also look forward to performances from a few select winners of the St. Columbkille talent show. In recalling last year’s show, Zovko fondly remembered the enthusiastic audience response to the St. Columbkille students, and especially raved about a 5th grade pianist who will be back for the third time this year.
Everyone involved in BC Idol, from the ELP students who helped run auditions and publicize the event, to its various co-sponsors, to the performers themselves help ensure that it’s an extremely fun night showcasing the musical talents of the student body. Yet ultimately, the connection with St. Columbkille is what makes the event so special and meaningful, according to Zovko. “I want lots of people to be there, I want the audience to enjoy themselves, I want the performers to enjoy themselves, all of those things I want to have happen,” she said, “but my biggest goal and biggest dream is that we could fill Robsham, we can sell 591 tickets and we could have almost $6,000 to give to St. Columbkille. That’s my goal.”