The music of the holiday season will fill the air Sunday when the North Shore Philharmonic Orchestra returns to Revere for the annual Robert A. Marra Memorial “Sounds of Christmas” Concert at St. Anthony’s Church beginning at 4 p.m.
Admission to the concert is free in exchange for a generous donation of non-perishable food to benefit the Revere Food Pantry. Private sponsorship by Bocchino Insurance, Global Partners, Arbella Insurance, Comcast, RCN, and Action Emergency Services underwrites the concert.
Music Director Robert Lehmann promises another wonderful show. “We are always excited to come to Revere and play in the beautiful surroundings of St. Anthony’s Church,” said Lehmann. “The people of Revere make the Orchestra feel like family celebrating the holidays together.”
Accompanying the Orchestra again this year is vocalist Susie Pepper. “Susie played with us last year and people will remember that she sings just magnificently. We are so fortunate that her schedule allowed her to be part of the Revere concert again this year.”
Revere High School senior class president Jason Acosta will narrate an original essay that he wrote for the occasion. “This is a part of the concert we began five years ago,” said concert co-chair and Orchestra president Robert Marra Jr. “We wanted to create a connection between the high school, where my father taught for 40 years, and the concert.”
Working with RHS Writing Center co-ordinator Allison Casper, an RHS senior has written an essay that expresses the writer’s individual perception of Christmas in a modern world. The writer then narrates the piece at the concert. “The essays have been varied in their tone and content,” said Marra. “Because the essay is the writer’s personal reflection, has been a very moving experience for the audience.”
Concert co-chair Domenic Bocchino, president of Bocchino Insurance, has been a principal sponsor of the concert since 2006. “Every year it is such a fulfilling experience to be part of this concert and Food Drive,” he said. “It is unfortunate that there is such a demand for food assistance in this day and age. Everyone who can come and enjoy the concert is fortunate to have all that they have, and so it really reflects the meaning of the holidays when people show their generosity and charity through the food drive.”
Marra commented how the concert started in conjunction with Revere’s celebration of the United States Bicentennial year in 1976. “The first concert was held at Revere High School, and the following year it was moved to St. Anthony’s Church” he said. “It was a perfect setting to celebrate the holidays.”
The concert has been held at St. Anthony’s every year except for a three-year period in the mid-1980s. The current format of free admission and the associated Food Drive began in 1991. “Thanks to the sponsors, the concert became a free event with the Food Drive as the ‘cost’ of admission. The food drive was a huge success right from the start. We hope people will express their appreciation for the concert and the holiday season with a generous donation,” said Marra.
This year will mark the concert’s 43rd anniversary. “There is great tradition and history to Revere’s concert,” said Music Director Lehmann. “Not only for its longevity, but in its memorial of Robert Marra, who had such deep connection to the concert and to Revere.”
The concert was named in memory of Robert Marra Sr. after he died in 2002. “He was one of the original members of the North Shore Philharmonic Orchestra and concertmaster for 50 years,” said Robert Jr. “Three of the most precious things in his life were the North Shore Philharmonic Orchestra, St. Anthony’s Church, and his beloved City of Revere. This concert brings all those together. It’s a deeply emotional experience for our family that the tradition continues in music, at St. Anthony’s, and with such a charitable benefit to the Revere community.”