By John Alexander
While Christopher Macchio is a world-renowned tenor who has performed in some of the most esteemed venues around the globe, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Apollo Theater, and the White House, he holds a special place in his heart for the Diocese of Brooklyn’s Emmaus Center.
The Manhattan School of Music Conservatory graduate has entertained presidents and kings and has helped bring his faith-based music to the masses. Whether he’s performing the great pop standards of legends like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, classical and opera pieces by Mario Lanza and Luciano Pavarotti, or the more contemporary works of artists like Andrea Bocelli, Josh Groban, and Michael Buble, Macchio has mastered the art of bringing music that matters most to him to a new generation.
Macchio attended Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Holbrook, New York, and first realized that he could sing as a young man but had kept it a secret for most of his childhood.
He said that when he was 15 years old, he had to take a chorus class at Sachem High School in Lake Ronkonkoma, New York, to fulfill state school requirements.
“The teacher asked us each to sing solo, and at first, I refused,” Macchio recalled. “I was so deathly afraid of singing in front of people that I wouldn’t do it. But he pulled me aside at the end of class and asked me to sing a song for him.”
After singing “Try to Remember” from The Fantasticks, Macchio said the teacher was impressed by what he heard, telling him he “had a gift from God and an obligation to share that gift.” Macchio took his teacher’s words to heart, and his entire life changed from that moment forward.
Macchio’s diverse song repertoire includes everything from standards like “New York, New York,” “Fly Me to the Moon,” “That’s Amore,” and “The Way You Look Tonight,” to traditional Christian hymns like “The Lord’s Prayer” and “Ave Maria.” He is passionate about the music he selects.
“The thing is, we all recognize that music has the power to penetrate the depths of the soul in a way that very few other stimuli have the power to do,” he said. “For example, patients with dementia who don’t even recognize their own children can recognize a song from 60 years ago.”
He also believes that even when he’s singing to an ostensibly secular audience, it’s important to show your faith in a public forum.
“I want people to know that I’m not beating you over the head with religious dogma, but there is something that is so worthwhile and so uplifting in those religious songs,” he added. “I tell people that I’m going to start my program with “The Lord’s Prayer” out of respect for where all of the wonderful bounty that we enjoy ultimately comes from.”
Macchio feels that his God-given talent allows him the opportunity to appeal to people’s emotions.
“That’s really what I’m endeavoring to do, to move people, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually to the best of my abilities,” he added.
Macchio was signed by EMI Records in 2011 and has released his newer albums on his own label, including the EP “Dolci Momenti” (Sweet Moments), the Christmas album “O Holy Night” and “O, America,” his more recent collaboration with the New York Tenors featuring Andy Cooney and Daniel Rodriguez that features the single, “I Won’t Turn My Back On You.” Macchio has also worked with Rod Stewart and acclaimed composer — and Andrea Bocelli record producer — David Foster.
In addition to his sold-out concert performances, Macchio will be featured in two upcoming movies, an untitled film about the life of Mother Cabrini, starring Emmy Award winner John Lithgow, and Don Q, in which he stars alongside another Emmy Award-winning actor Armand Assante.
Macchio said that he feels a special connection with the Emmaus Center because he believes it has a mission to use art and culture to bring people to a place where they can rekindle or explore their faith.
“If I can play a role in crafting and curating a compelling enough series of experiences in that space over time, people will look forward to going there for something more elevated, for something more meaningful, more substantial,” he said, “so that when they do come to the Emmaus Center, the hope is that they will deepen their existing faith.”
The Emmaus Center is a world-class performing arts theater housed in the Historic Williamsburg Opera House, that was built in 1897 and renovated in 2020 and 2021. Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello had a lot to do with the restoration and reemergence of the 800-seat theater, which is situated above Ss. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church and located at 299 Berry Street in Williamsburg.
“I am so inspired by what Msgr. Jamie has accomplished with the center so far, and what he hopes to accomplish in the future,” Macchio said.
“We want to schedule as many events as we can to promote the center and to evangelize,” said Msgr. Gigantiello. “That’s why we want to include religious and cultural as well as community events. So, we put this event in October to really highlight Italian culture during Italian heritage month. And the Emmaus Center was a great place to do it.”
Msgr. Gigantiello said that Macchio has a fantastic voice and a large following.
“We thought this would be a really nice event to host and to promote Italian culture and to also reach out to many of our Italian benefactors and people who really help us out at the center, as well as introducing others to what the center has to offer.”
Additionally, Msgr. Gigantiello explained that Macchio would be the main entertainer at the center’s upcoming Christmas show, which he said would include top-tier pop, rock, and Christian music performers.
“The Emmaus Center is a gem in our diocese,” added Msgr. Gigantiello. “And we really want to see it as a place where people can encounter Jesus through the arts.”