Written by Melissa Argueta Friday, 24 December 2010 00:00
It was a glee-filled afternoon last Sunday, Dec. 12, at NYCB Theatre at Westbury, when recording artist and Long Island tenor Michael Amante offered a powerful and touching performance during his fifth annual holiday and veterans tribute concert, featuring special guests soprano Marissa Famiglietti and the Garden City Middle School Festival Chorus, who appeared in their concert stage debut.
Opening with Christmas favorite Joy to the World, along with a host of other festive holiday selections, Amante showcased his remarkable ability to perform a wide variety of musical genres from Puccini to pop. One of the afternoon’s highlights was when Amante paid special homage to U.S. disabled veterans in a rendition of the U.S. Armed Forces Medley, which featured songs such as Caissons Go Rolling Along, Anchors Aweigh, Army Air Corps Song, The Marines Hymn, TAPS and America the Beautiful.
Amante, a resident of Floral Park, spoke of his respect and admiration for veterans’ bravery and invited veterans who were in the audience to come up on stage. “To be part of this celebration of thanks and gratitude to our veterans, it’s an honor,” Amante told the audience. A portion of the proceeds from the show benefit The Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans and DAV Chapter 76, National Amputation Foundation, Inc.
Kathleen Mucciolo-Kolins and Wayne Kolins of Garden City, founders of The Musical and Theatre Legacy Foundation (MTLF), a not-for-profit arts in education foundation, was one of the key sponsors of the concert, and the Foundation solely sponsored the Garden City Middle School Festival Chorus, who joined Amante on stage in a spirited performance of Josh Grobin’s hit song You Lift Me Up and Queen’s Somebody to Love. “They did a marvelous job,” Kathleen Mucciolo-Kolins said.
Mucciolo-Kolins who is a high school teacher and actor, explained that the Foundation’s mission is to build a bridge to a new generation of audiences by providing them with engaging learning experiences. “They weren’t the audience; they were the show and that is the most powerful instrument for learning. So if one or two or three children are touched by that day and feel the experience of the arts because they were a part of it, then the mission of my Foundation was accomplished,” she said.
Mucciolo-Kolins equally emphasized the importance of collaborative learning programs as they offer students memories that will last a lifetime. “That’s what I hope for each and every one of them. I have a memory of my theater teacher. I remember her and how she influenced my life when I was 13 years old and that’s what made me want to pursue the performing arts and that’s what I wanted to give back,” she said.
Superintendent of Garden City Schools Dr. Robert Feirsen praised the students for the success of the event at the December Board of Education meeting. Feirsen also thanked the people who played a key role in preparing the students for the show, including high school and middle school administration, chorus teacher Nancy Menges and MTLF President and Founder Kathleen Mucciolo-Kolins.