By John Alexander
One of Brooklyn’s premier music halls, the Emmaus Center, is planning a Christmas spectacular featuring a star-studded cavalcade of some of popular music’s biggest stars.
The always-anticipated holiday event will be bigger than ever this year, featuring legendary performers such as original Beach Boys member Al Jardine, award-winning singer-songwriter Peabo Bryson, American Idol finalist Haley Reinhart, and New York Tenor host Christopher Macchio.
Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Williamsburg, called this an extra special event because Christmas hasn’t been celebrated in the venue for the last two years due to the COVID pandemic. “I think we can safely say that with the pandemic mostly behind us, it is truly a cause for celebration,” he said.
Additionally, he believes that this year’s show, which benefits Futures in Education, an organization that for over 30 years has helped provide financial aid and tuition for students attending Catholic schools and academies in the Diocese of Brooklyn, will help people reflect upon the true meaning of Christmas.
“It’s about God becoming man, God with us, Jesus with us, Emmanuel, and this concert really helps us to reflect on that and put us in the Christmas spirit,” Msgr. Gigantiello added.
The Spirit of Christmas follows a series of successful pop, country and contemporary Christian concerts held this fall at the Emmaus Center. This year’s Christmas concert will be bringing a Beach Boy to Brooklyn as Al Jardine takes the stage with his band. Jardine was part of the California group’s original lineup in 1961, alongside Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson, and Mike Love.
In 1962 the group charted their first top-20 hit with “Surfin’ Safari” and in 1963 scored their first No. 1 single, “I Get Around.” In 1965 Jardine sang lead on the group’s second No. 1 hit, “Help Me, Rhonda.”
Peabo Bryson has released over 30 albums, with five being certified Gold. He’s charted 57 singles, including the 1984 top-20 duet classic “Tonight, I Celebrate My Love” with Roberta Flack and the top-10 hits “If Ever You’re in My Arms Again,” and “Beauty and the Beast” with Celine Dion. Bryson released his biggest hit in 1992, the No. 1 charting “A Whole New World,” duet with Regina Belle. He also received Grammy Awards for both “Beauty and the Beast” and “A Whole New World.”
American Idol finalist Haley Reinhart has forged a successful career as a singer-songwriter. She made it to third place on the 10th season of the popular competition, covering songs that ranged from traditional jazz favorites such as “At Last” by Etta James and “God Bless the Child” by Billie Holiday to pop hits like the Shirelles’ “Baby It’s You” and The Beatles’ “The Long and Winding Road.”
Other artists performing at the concert include classic pop vocalist Jackie DiMaggio, harpist and singer Erin Hill and celebrated pop and Doo-Wop singer Joel Katz.
Christopher Macchio will serve as host for the show. The world-renowned tenor has performed in some of the most esteemed venues around the globe including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Apollo Theater, and the White House.
The Emmaus Center is a world-class performing arts theater housed in the historic Williamsburg Opera House, which was built in 1897 and renovated in 2020 and 2021. The 800-seat venue is situated above Ss. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church and located at 299 Berry Street in Williamsburg.
Craig Tubiolo, executive director of the Emmaus Center and founder of Godsplanproductions.com, believes that these concerts are creating a music evangelization movement within the Diocese of Brooklyn.
“We believe that the music will bring the listeners to Christ,” Tubiolo said.
Msgr. Gigantiello said he is hoping to hear some of his favorite Christmas songs during the concert, including his personal favorite hymn, O Holy Night, “about the night Jesus was born and how God became man to be with us, and that’s exactly what we are celebrating and what Christmas is all about.”
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