Music Director Robert Lehmann and the North Shore Philharmonic Orchestra will welcome House Speaker Bob DeLeo as Guest Narrator in Revere’s annual Robert A. Marra Memorial “Sounds of Christmas” Concert this Sunday, December 7, beginning at 4 p.m. at St. Anthony’s Church.
The event is free to the public, but everyone attending is asked to bring a substantial donation of non-perishable food to benefit The Revere Food Pantry. The concert is principally sponsored by Global Partners LP, Domenic A. Bocchinio Insurance Agency, Suffolk Construction and Comcast.
“It always seems like the Christmas season sneaks up on us, but this concert reminds us that it’s surely here,” commented event co-chairman Bob Marra Jr., president of the North Shore Philharmonic and the son of the Orchestra’s former concertmaster after whom the concert is named. “We, as always, are so very grateful to the sponsors who make this event possible, and we hope everyone responds with generosity because the demand at the Revere Food Pantry is overwhelming.”
Popular soprano Jean Danton will be the featured singer at the concert. This will be Danton’s fifth appearance at the Revere concert and she noted that it’s always one of the most special on her busy holiday calendar.
“I just love singing in that magnificent church and before such a wonderful and joyous audience,” she said. “It’s not only a delight, but also it’s a tremendous amount of fun.”
Music Director Lehmann echoed the singer.
“I’ve been conducting this concert now since 1999, and it’s always the highlight of our season. An exuberant audience, a wonderful time of the year; our musicians look so forward to it every year.”
One of the concert principal sponsors and its co-chair Dom Bocchino of Revere’s Domenic A. Bocchinio Insurance Agency remarked about the concert’s reach into the community.
“I am always staggered by the need in our community for food, and at the great work that is done by the Revere Food Pantry to meet that need,” he said. “This concert is basically the most important event of the year to get the Pantry through the very difficult winter months.”
Speaker DeLeo will make his first appearance with the Orchestra, reciting the famous New York Sun editorial written by Francis P. Church that answered a young reader’s question “Is There a Santa Claus.”
Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo narrated the piece several years ago and will instead deliver the greetings of the City this year.
“When you see the turnout to this concert, and the people’s generosity for the Food Pantry, I think it answers the question of whether there is a Santa Claus,” he said.
The concert first was performed in Revere in 1976 as a celebratory conclusion to the nation’s Bicentennial year, but it caught on quickly.
A paid event until 1990, it became a free concert when organizers recruited sponsors and then parlayed the sponsor’s generosity into the food drive. “That was almost 25 years ago, but it’s never lost momentum. Maybe it’s just the timing–the real start of the Christmas season–and people find the concert as a way to both enjoy the musical spirit of the holiday, and also to be charitable at the same time.”
From the first Christmas concert through 2001, Revere’s Robert Marra Sr. occupied the Orchestra’s concertmaster’s chair, and the concert was renamed in his memory after he died in August of 2002.
“Obviously, this concert has very special personal feelings for me and my family,” said Marra Jr. “Dad loved playing this concert in his church, before his hometown audience.”