By Tara Vocino
Approximately 900 people attended the Robert A. Marra Memorial Sounds of Christmas Concert at St. Anthony’s Church on Sunday night – all to benefit those less fortunate.
“It’s much more personal to me and my family than just a concert,” said his son, Robert Marra, who is Chief of Staff to Mayor Brian Arrigo.
Directed by Dr. Robert Lehmann, the North Shore Philharmonic Orchestra performed a free Classical concert in exchange for a nonperishable food to benefit the Revere Food Pantry. The first half of the concert was traditional Christmas music while the second half was popular children’s tunes with a surprise visit from Santa himself, according to Marra.
“The concert was wonderful with a tremendous crowd,” Marra said. “We estimate that 300 boxes of food were donated. People didn’t just bring one can – they were very generous, bringing bags of food. That’s the real meaning of Christmas.”
Marra said the food was distributed on Monday.
Mayor Brian Arrigo said the concert supports people in need. The concert was renamed from the Holy Name Society to in Marra’s memory when he died at 81 years old, a Revere High School teacher for 40 years.
Revere High School senior Rebeca Villatoro was chosen to come up with an original essay based upon the meaning of Christmas. “It reminds me of the miracles in my family,” Rebeca said. “My grandmother Consuelo Alvarez fought diabetes up until last week, and my mother, Trancito, achieved American citizenship from El Salvador.”
With winter coming, it reminds her of new possibilities.
Her Writing Center teacher, Allison Casper, said she wanted a student who was comfortable speaking in front of an audience and whom people could connect with. “Although there is gloominess during the winter season, she sees the light in people’s faces,” Casper said. “It’s a direct reflection of the holiday season, giving us something to hope for. That is birth and life.”
Alex Caswell in the Percussion Section said the concert took a lot of prior preparation, but they only had one formal practice section together.
After the concert, The Revere Advocate talked to concertgoers to see how they enjoyed it.
Monse Torres has been bringing her son, Nicco, since he was three. He’s now 21. “It’s a family tradition for us,” Torres said. “It’s the same talent as the Pops, but it’s free. Something beautiful can come out of something local.”
Torres said Susie Pepper, soprano, who was dressed in an elegant black formal gown, had a beautiful voice and was very talented. She liked her rendition of “Silver Bells.” She also liked the sing-along songs. “It’s one of the best concerts of the year,” Torres said. “It’s beautifully put together.”
Her husband, Patricio, liked “The Nutcracker” performance. “I’ve heard it before,” said Patricio Torres, who added that Pepper’s voice was talented. “I’ve always liked it.”
Pepper said she doesn’t play an instrument, but singing alongside the Orchestra’s talent was incredible.
Gina Addonizio said Pepper got the crowd involved in the songs and the words, adding her favorite was “Let it Go,” made famous by the popular children’s movie “Frozen.” “It was made for her voice,” Addonizio said. “She did unbelievable.”
She said the concert kicked off the holiday season.
Al Pitman said the concert was amazing, and he had a great time. His favorite was “Sleigh Ride,” where Santa danced around the church, handing out candy canes. He said Pepper’s voice was powerful and that she hit the high notes. His favorite by Pepper was also “Let it Go.”
Tara Vocino may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.