The winter holidays are a time for giving and playing the appropriate music all the time. Unionville High School got into the spirit with a concert from opera singer Marco Panuccio which was also a fundraiser Dec. 4.
Panuccio, a native of Easton, Pa., returned to the school for the second year in a row to perform on his 'O Holy Night – An Evening of Holiday Song' tour.
The stop on the tour only came about through a connection with Jason Throne, the high school's director of music. The two attended Temple University together for a couple of years.
'Hearing about his 'O Holy Night' tour, I got the idea to see about him coming here,' Throne said. 'It's a favor for an old friend, basically. He does a couple concerts in the area, but doesn't do anything in Chester County, so that's what brings him over this way.'
For last year's concert, they decided to turn it from just a concert to also a helping the school's music program.
'In part of what he does when coming here is a fundraiser for the choral-music department,' Throne said. 'He donates part of the proceeds to the department.'
Panuccio has always had a deep love of music and this is a way for him to give back for students who may want to turn it into a career for themselves.
He started in music at a very young age and, even though his parents weren't always sure of his decision of going into opera, he continued on and has now become known the world over.
'I'm very, very fortunate I get to see the world and live my dream, which is singing opera,' Panuccio said. 'I don't consider it work because it has been my passion, my lifelong dream, to do this ever since I was a child.
'It's not about the money. If it was, I would have left this business a long time ago.'
It's easy to see Panuccio's love of singing when he's on stage and can't suppress a smile after every performance, as was the case at Unionville.
'When you're watching him, you're just spellbound,' Throne said. 'He's amazing. He really has a world-class career and you can really hear and see that.'
The turnout wasn't the largest, but for those who were in attendance, Panuccio kept them captivated with his voice and even with his song selections.
'It's a very eclectic program,' Panuccio said. 'There's also sing-alongs as well so the audience can sing with me.'
No matter the size of a crowd, Panuccio is always thrilled to perform.
'I love what I do,' he said. 'It doesn't matter whether I sing at a venue that seats 50 or 8,000 people. It's just the excitement of being able to give my gifts back to these audiences.'
There are hopes of turning this into an annual event as long as Panuccio continues his holiday tour.
'I think the community needs to come and see this kind of caliber performance,' Throne said. 'We don't get this caliber just haphazardly coming in. It's a really special thing we have here.'