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Peter Nero to receive the Mario Lanza Award

On Sunday November 1, 2009, acclaimed pianist and conductor of the Philly Pops Orchestra, Peter Nero will join other luminaries and receive the Mario Lanza Award in recognition of outstanding achievement in the field of music. Past recipients include Mike Douglas, Jerry Hadley, Sergio Franchi, Frankie Laine and Al Martino. In April of 2010 Peter Nero and the Philly Pops will be presenting a series of four concerts titled ‘The Great American Tenor’ at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts paying tribute to the late, great Tenor.

At the Mario Lanza Tribute Ball that evening, Maestro Nero will be joined by noted soprano Elaine Malbin, who will serve as Mistress of Ceremonies, as well as internationally renowned tenor Giuseppe Taormina to pay tribute to legendary Mario Lanza in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of his passing. The event, which is actually an entire weekend of festivities, is a fundraiser conducted by the Mario Lanza Institute to help perpetuate Lanza’s dream of aiding young aspiring opera singers through scholarships. To date the Institute has awarded over 230 scholarships with recent winners including Joyce DiDonato, Juan Diego Florez, and James Valenti. This year’s scholarships have been generously sponsored by the Gerda Lissner Foundation and the Coccia Foundation. In addition, Philadelphia mayor Michael A. Nutter has issued a proclamation making November 1, 2009 “Mario Lanza Day”.

The celebration begins on Saturday, October 31st beginning at 8:30 p.m. at the High Note Café located at 1549 S. 13th Street in Philadelphia. There will be a special Mario Lanza Tribute dinner featuring fine Italian cuisine, raffles, and live entertainment including Tenor Caranza. On Sunday, November 1st at 11:00 a.m. the Mario Lanza Museum, which is located at 712 Montrose Street, will have an open house and a coffee and cake reception. The evening festivities will begin at the Double Tree Hotel located at 237 S. Broad Street with a cocktail hour at 5:00 p.m. and the Ball beginning at 6:00 p.m. featuring the finalists of the Mario Lanza Scholarship Competition. Dinner and dancing to the Tony Dee Orchestra to follow. There will also be a video presentation with clips of Lanza in opera and song and a performance by Mr. Taormina.

Two-time Grammy Award-winning pianist Peter Nero is unrivaled as a pianist and Pops conductor. His blending of classical, swing, Broadway, blues and jazz have won him a loyal and enthusiastic audience. The Brooklyn-born musician started his formal music training at the age of 7. By the time he was 14, he was accepted to New York City's prestigious High School of Music and Art and won a scholarship to the Juilliard School of Music. Peter recorded his first album in 1961 and won a Grammy that year for "Best New Artist." Since then, he has received another Grammy Award, garnered 10 additional nominations and released 67 albums. His first major national TV success came at age 17 when he was chosen to perform Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue on Paul Whiteman's TV Special. He subsequently appeared on many top variety and talk shows including 11 guest appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and numerous appearances on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show.

Celebrated soprano Elaine Malbin is a star of many opera stages and a pioneer of opera on television. She has recorded two duets with Lanza for an RCA album devoted to selections from his second film, as well as serving as a judge in many prestigious vocal competitions.

Originally from Sicily, tenor Giuseppe Taormina has performed all over the world and has received many honors including being made the first ever Cavaliere di Collana in the United States. This will mark his first appearance at the Mario Lanza Ball although he regularly sings at Italian American events and benefits. He possesses the kind of tenor voice that brings people cheering to their feet. His charming personality and beautiful voice make for an unbeatable combination.

Mario Lanza was an ambassador for all good music. Through his films, concerts, recordings, radio show, and television appearances, he brought great enjoyment to all who experienced his wonderful and exciting talent and introduced many to the world of opera for the very first time.

To order tickets please contact the Mario Lanza Institute at 215-238-9691 or mariolanzamuseum@aol.com. Requests may also be sent to Mario Lanza Institute P.O. Box 54624 Philadelphia, PA 19148-0624. Tickets for the Mario Lanza Ball at the Double Tree are $135 per person. Tickets for the Mario Lanza Tribute dinner at the High Note Café are $65 per person.

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