Music Director Robert Lehmann and the North Shore Philharmonic Orchestra return to St. Anthony’s Church this Sunday, Dec. 2, for the annual Robert A. Marra Memorial “Sounds of Christmas” Concert. The concert gets underway at 4 p.m.
As has been the tradition since 1990, admission to the concert is free, but everyone attending the concert is asked to bring a generous donation of non-perishable food to benefit the Revere Food Pantry. This year’s concert is Principally Sponsored by Global Partners LP, Bocchino Insurance, Action Emergency Services, RCN, and Comcast.
North Shore Philharmonic Orchestra president and concert co-chair Robert Marra Jr. emphasized the food drive that is associated with the concert named in his father’s memory. “Of course, we all love the music and the holiday feeling that the concert evokes, but the food drive makes it special because it exemplifies the true meaning of the holidays, the sense of sharing and helping others,” he said. “When the people who come to the concert fill up the donation bins with food, it magnifies the generosity of the businesses that sponsor the concert.” Last year nearly three tons of food was delivered to the Revere Food Pantry the day after the concert.
The tradition began in 1976 when North Shore Philharmonic Orchestra first came to play a holiday concert at Revere High School as part of the city’s celebration of the nation’s bicentennial. The concert moved to St. Anthony’s beautiful sanctuary the following year. “The concert was a tremendous success right from the start. Every year someone tells me how this concert has been part of their family tradition for so many years.”
Continuing a recent tradition, Revere High School senior Rebecca Villatoro will narrate an original essay as part of the concert program. “We started this four years ago,” said Marra. “(School committee member) Carol Tye and RHS Writing Director Allison Casper organized a competition to select a student’s original essay about the meaning of the holidays. It’s a chance to have a student’s voice city deliver a meaningful message. And it ties Revere High to the concert, something my father would appreciate.”
The concert is named in memory of violinist Robert A. Marra, a lifelong Revere resident and teacher at Revere High School who was concertmaster of the Orchestra for over 50 years before his death in 2002. “He played his last ‘Sounds of Christmas’ in 2001, and, remember, that was the year of 9/11. The concert was part of the healing process for everyone, the beginning of the holidays after a very difficult year.”
Vocalist Susan Pepper will lend be the featured singer. “What’s Christmas music without singing?“ Marra asked. “Susan has a wonderful voice and personality and the audience will enjoy her tremendously.” Ms. Pepper will sing several solos during the concert and lead the audience in the traditional “Sing-a-long”
The Revere audience that packs St. Anthony’s is as much a joy for the Orchestra as the concert is for the patrons. “At this time of year, musicians can be pretty busy, and it is demanding work, but they all love coming to Revere where the audience is so attentive and enthusiastic,” said North Shore Philharmonic Orchestra Music Director Robert Lehmann.
Marra expressed his deep appreciation to the concert sponsors Bocchino Insurance, Global Partners LP, Action Emergency Services, RCN, and Comcast. “No words can adequately convey the appreciation I have for the sponsors,” he said.
Listing the sponsors, Marra said “Dom Bocchino joined up with the concert in 2005 as a principal sponsor and has served as an invaluable concert co-chair. Global Partners LP has been with us now seven years. Revere’s Cable TV provider has been part of the concert from the very beginning, and until this year that always has been Comcast and its predecessors, and now that RCN has come to Revere, they have joined in this great tradition. Mike Zaccaria at Action became part of the tradition more recently, and he is always an enthusiastic supporter of events in Revere, and we are glad to have him as part of this tradition.”