If an artist's ability to evoke emotion from an audience is a true measure of greatness, then greatness was certainly achieved within the walls of the Tilles Center on Sunday.
The Nassau Pops Symphony Orchestra presented "Touched By a Tenor,"featuring guest artist Michael Amante, a concert performed to benefit Long Island Special Olympics on Sunday, Nov. 5 at the Tilles Center in Brookville. The harmony spread by the Nassau Pops coupled with the powerful and deeply moving voice of up and coming tenor Amante had some in the audience shedding tears while applauding in appreciation.
For the Nassau Pops Symphony Orchestra, putting on a concert not only gave orchestra members an opportunity to showcase a vast array of talents, it also allowed the group to use their gifts for music to benefit the Long Island Special Olympics, an organization dedicated to promoting athletics for children and adults with developmental disabilities. Special Olympics allows those with mental retardation the feeling of accomplishment, a gift precious to the human race.
The Nassau Pops' association with Long Island Special Olympics began 12 years ago. Each fall since 1989, the orchestra has performed a concert at the Tilles Center with proceeds going towards Long Island Special Olympics. Over the past 12 years, the Pops have raised over $135,000 for the Special Olympics. Corporate and private contributions are used to cover necessary concert expenses so that all box office receipts can go to charity.
The Nassau Pops were led by the strong direction of Maestro Louis Panacciulli, a Franklin Square resident and teacher of instrumental music in the Valley Stream District 13 school district. Panacciulli conducted a 66-member orchestra, which included some of the best local musicians such as Renata Levenson of West Hemsptead.
The concert began with the Nassau Pops performing The Italian in Algiers. Then Amante took the stage and showed the audience why he is becoming known as one of the world's most gifted tenors. Amante sang his rendition of the romantic ballad Be My Love.
The afternoon featured a combination of the Nassau Pop's symphonies with Amante's gift for making the audience feel what the words of the songs say. The pops performed renditions of selections from Rodgers and Hammerstein and songs from the big band era as well as a tribute to Frank Sinatra. Amante performed songs such as Maria, A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes, All the Way, Music of the Night and Time to Say Goodbye.
Amante also saluted his parents by singing some of the Neopolitan songs that were popular in his household.
A performance by the American Theater Dance Workshop also contributed to the show's appeal. The dancers performed to a "Salute to the Big Apple" theme, complete with a kick line to New York, New York.
At the end of the production, Panacciulli led all the performers in a rendition of God Bless America. The maestro appeared to be beaming with pride and for good reason. Not only did he help put on a production that had everyone standing at its conclusion, he, along with all those associated with "Touched By a Tenor," helped others in finding the satisfaction and joy in performing the Nassau Pops experience that afternoon.