The 2012 Pops on the Heights Scholarship Gala took place in Conte Forum on Friday, Sept. 28, to mark the 20th Anniversary of a beloved Boston College event. This BC tradition brings the world-famous Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra to campus each year, which serves to kick-off the annual Parents Weekend. The special guest performer was Harry Connick Jr., a veteran of theater and television. The event was not only a special night for students and parents but also a celebration of the deserving students who will receive scholarships from the proceeds of the event.
The concert commemorated the legacy of the late alum James F. Cleary who graduated in 1950. The event was renamed in his honor. Cleary was the founder and chairman of the university’s annual ‘Pops on the Heights’ scholarship gala which he started in 1993 and helped it grow into the university’s largest annual fundraiser. Since its inception, the event has raised nearly $22 million to fund more than 800 scholarships.
Connick has made an impact not only as a versatile musician, but also as a theatre and television actor, which has earned him Grammy and Emmy awards as well as Tony nominations. His love of music and performing can be traced back to his New Orleans roots, where he studied piano with the likes of James Booker and Ellis Marsalis.
Connick achieved widespread recognition as a musician when director Rob Reiner asked him to contribute the score to his 1989 hit “When Harry Met Sally” which led to Connick’s first multi-platinum album.
In 1990, Connick made his acting debut in “Memphis Belle,” and since has acted in hits such as “Independence Day,” “Hope Floats,” “P.S. I Love You,” and “Dolphin Tale.”
He also appeared on the popular television show “Law and Order: SVU” in addition to a number of other small screen appearances. He made his mark on the New York theatre scene most notably in his critically acclaimed run of “Harry Connick, Jr. in Concert on Broadway” in 2010.
Renowned saxophonist Branford Marsalis was the evening’s surprise guest who played alongside Connick, and his band, during the second half of the evening. Marsalis is a Grammy Award-winning saxophonist and a Tony Award nominee composer, and is considered one of the best instrumentalists of his time.
Photos by Caroline Conole/Gavel Media.