Concert Silenced by COVID-19
Special to the Journal
For the first time since 1988, the North Shore Philharmonic Orchestra won’t make its annual visit to St. Anthony’s Church for Revere’s annual Robert A. Marra “Sounds of Christmas” Concert.
“We’re heartbroken that the Covid-19 pandemic will force the cancellation of the North Shore Philharmonic Orchestra’s annual Christmas Concerts,” said Music Director Robert Lehmann in a statement regarding the Orchestra’s holiday concerts in Revere and Danvers.
In Revere, that means the interruption of a tradition that dates back to 1976, said Orchestra President Robert A. Marra Jr. “Other than a three-year gap in the late 1980s, the Orchestra has played the Sounds of Christmas Concert every December in St. Anthony’s Church. But it has been clear for months that this year there would be no concert.”
The worse part about the cancellation this year, said Marra, is the loss of the Food Drive that has been part of the Concert since 1991. The North Shore Philharmonic, Marra said, has issued an appeal to its supporters and all who have enjoyed the concerts over the years to contribute in Revere to the First Congregational Church Food Pantry, which is the regular beneficiary of the local concert.
Donations can be made directly to the Revere Food Pantry online at www.firstcongrevere.org, click “Serving” and follow the link to Food Pantry. Donors can also mail a check to First Congregational Church of Revere, 230 Beach St Revere, MA 02151.
“We’ve asked people to donate money to the Food Pantries in Revere and Danvers, as it’s the safest and most effective way to help the Food Pantry this year. Even though we can’t have a concert, we can keep the charitable spirit and benefit alive, ” said Marra. “It’s sad that this year, when consequences of Covid 19 have imposed the most severe burden ever on the Revere Food Pantry, there is no concert to help out.”
The Sounds of Christmas Concert in Revere dates back to 1975, when it was held at Revere High before taking up its annual venue at St. Anthony’s Church in 1976. Marra recalled the 2016 concert, which celebrated the concert’s 40th Anniversary in St. Anthony’s in 2016 and recognized the concert’s five original organizers, Fred Sannella chair of the Historical Society, City Clerk John Henry, Wonderland former CEO and General Manager Dick Dalton, Revere Journal Associate Editor Dick Powers, and Journal editor, the late Bob Long. “That was a special milestone,” said Marra.
The food drive was conceived as part of the concert in 1991. In 2002, the concert was renamed the Robert A. Marra Memorial “Sounds of Christmas” Concert in memory of the Orchestra’s late concertmaster, lifelong Revere resident and former Revere High teacher Robert Marra, who died in August of that year.
“These concerts have been highlights of the Orchestra’s season and jubilant events in the respective communities, and the food drives associated with each concert helps feed thousands of people in need,” said Music Director Lehmann.
The pandemic forced the Orchestra to cancel its regular season concerts this past April and November and will also wipe out the Orchestra’s Winter Concert in February, in addition to the holiday concerts.
“We are staying hopeful that we can present some form of a concert next April, and we certainly hope to be back at St. Anthony’s next year—so let’s be optimistic and mark our calendars for December 5, 2021 for next year’s Sounds of Christmas concert,” said Marra.
People who want to relive past concerts can visit the RevereTV YouTube page, www.YouTube.com/RevereTV , where an archive of concerts dating to 2013 is available.