Robsham Theater adopted a high-stakes, American-Idol-esque atmosphere for the 16th annual Sing it to the Heights competition on Tuesday night. The night was organized by the Emerging Leader Program to fundraise for the St. Columbkille Partnership School’s music program. The children of St. Columbkille, a Catholic elementary school in Brighton, were a jovial presence throughout the night, performing two separate pieces that elicited smiles and cheers from the audience. Stencia Bastien, CSOM ’23, was awarded first place, while AJ Singh, CSOM ’23 and Kaitlin Meeks, MCAS ’20 came in second and third, respectively.
Taking off time from their usual Jesuit duties, Rev. Donald MacMillan, S.J., Rev. Eric Immel, S.J., and Rev. Cesar Muziotti, S.J. served as the judges of the night. Their feedback proved to be both substantive and witty, keeping the audience entertained between performances.
Sophia Gardner, CSOM ’22, courageously began the competition, serenading the audience with an emotional rendition of “Warrior” by Demi Lovato. Beginning with a soft voice, she quickly grew in confidence and volume to fill the auditorium with passionate vocals that brought new meaning to the song.
The emotional atmosphere established by Gardner was continued by Meeks, who performed a cover of Sam Smith’s “Lay Me Down.” In the words of MacMillan, “There was nothing meek about it.”
A returning contestant from last year, Jack Peterson, MCAS ’20, revamped the crowd with his cover of “Mack the Knife” by Bobby Darin. He confidently made the stage his own, walking and snapping along to the rhythm.
Things slowed down again as Francesca Giangiulio, MCAS ’23, took the stage accompanied by a live pianist to perform Lady Gaga’s “Million Reasons” with conviction. Giangiulio effortlessly transitioned between octaves to showcase her impressive range.
Korinne Arenas, MCAS ’22, combined acting and singing during her performance of Sara Bareilles’ “She Used To Be Mine.” Arenas effortlessly filled Robsham with her incomparable vocals.
She was followed by Max Schenkel, MCAS ’22, who seized the stage for a captivating rendition of “Talking to the Moon” by Bruno Mars. He oozed confidence during his vibrant performance.
Next up was Bastien, who proved to be a showstopper with her impressive cover of Beyoncé’s “Listen.” Her moving performance was so strong that it brought the Jesuits to their feet.
Calum Scott’s “You Are The Reason” was covered by Will Riley, MCAS ’22, bringing the tempo back down.
Singh, CSOM ’23, elegantly accompanied himself on the piano during his cover of The Jackson 5’s “Who’s Lovin You.” He dedicated the performance to his mother, and he followed his performance by singing “Happy Birthday” to her as the rest of Robsham gladly chimed in.
Tommy Boyce, CSOM ’21, finished the show off on the right note with his cover of “Falling” by Harry Styles. Following his emotional performance, the audience members were invited to vote for their favorite performer through text.
Awaiting the final decision, St. Columbkille’s Select Choir took the stage to perform Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me.” The crowd, overcome by the talent of the children, happily snapped along during a moment that reflected the purpose behind the competition. Last year’s Sing it to the Heights winner, Tate Haynes, MCAS ’21, was invited back to sing Daniel Caesar’s “Best Part,” breezily nailing the R&B hit.
Finally, the long-awaited moment of the night arrived as the winners were announced. Meeks took third place, with Singh taking second. First place was awarded to Bastien, and the crowd erupted in an enthusiastic affirmation of her talent.
Featured Images by Aneesa Wermers / For The Heights