Written by Rich Forestano Friday, 04 April 2014 00:00
For Maestro Louis Panacciulli, the 30th anniversary of the Nassau Pops Symphony Orchestra is about giving back.
“We are celebrating this anniversary and we wanted to do something meaningful,” he said.
So, for its first concert commemorating the milestone for the Pops, the orchestra is holding “A Tribute to the American Spirit” on Sunday, April 13 at 3 p.m. at Chaminade High School in Mineola to benefit the Independence Fund. The fund raises money to purchase hi-tech wheelchairs for disabled veterans. Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, who brought the fund into the national spotlight after The O’Reilly Factor ran a story with a war veteran, is co-sponsoring the event.
O’Reilly, a Chaminade graduate, called on viewers to donate to the fund. Viewers have raised more than $20 million in the last three years, according to Fox News.
“Anybody who needs [a chair] can get it,” O’Reilly said. “They have a great sense of independence because they can do anything from play golf, to go over any type of terrain with these chairs. They deserve this help.”
War veteran Jerral Hancock lost his left arm and was severely paralyzed after being hit with an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. Hancock received a track chair from the fund.
“He seemed like an upbeat guy and didn’t seem to hold any grudges against anybody,” Panacciulli said. “It was heartwarming watching the interview. Our PR director called me and suggested we contact Bill to raise money for these track chairs with a concert.”
Track chairs cost around $15,000, but have a militaristic feature that helps users get around. Panacciulli, who co-founded the Pops, says a local veteran will likely receive the 500th track chair produced at the concert.
“They have tank tracks instead of wheels,” he said. “It affords them great mobility on a variety of terrains.”
The concert will feature traditional American classics, including “The Star Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful.” But, it will also feature lesser-played pieces, like “Thin Alabaster Cities Gleam” and “Flight of Valor.”
“In Their Honor,” by Carl Strommen is dedicated to the September, 11, 2001 attacks.
“It’s all patriotic music,” Panacciulli said. “We even have a female trio that will do a coupleof Andrew Sister songs from way back.”
Tickets are $50 for reserved seats. They are available online at nassaupops.com/tickets. For more information, call 516-565-0646.