“Maria” a big hit for music lovers

The highly anticipated “Ave Maria” concert last Friday, May 21 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church went off without a hitch. Much more than that, actually — concertgoers adored the performance. “If I knew it was going to be this amazing, I would have brought a ton of people,” said one audience member to music director Florence Bocarius after the show.

The show, which included 14 different versions of the timeless classic, all from different countries, began at 8 p.m. and was followed up with a meet and greet for audience members that wished to shake the hands of performers that had wowed them. Schubert’s Ave Maria, and the Bach-Gounod version, are among the most recognizable pieces of music from the entire 20th century, Bocarius said. Both versions were included in the program.

Bruce Crilly, a tenor who performed in the concert, admitted that “It’s a very specific theme,” but concluded: “I think the ‘Ave’ lends itself to multiple versions, because it has written itself into so many famous songs. Crilly now lives in Stamford, Connecticut, but lived in Morris Park for three years. He and his wife Virginia Herrera, a soprana who also contributed her booming voice to the evening, were married in the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. They’ve known music director Bocarius for years. “If you’ve ever heard the Three Tenors,” explained Crilly, “then you know that these songs are in the public consciousness. Pavarotti, for example, is famous above all else for his special, unique Ave Maria.”

Bocarius, who organized the concert, called the final product “magnificent” and said that in her entire life, she had never heard such an applause as the one that occurred after the final Ave Maria.

“Music is an international language,” she said. “There’s so much violence in the world and so much misunderstanding, and this is just something easy and beautiful.”

Bocarius did note that the church was not altogether pleased with the number of people who attended. Bocarius thinks that in the future, she’ll have to make better use of advertising, and figure out a way to push the concert more in and around the borough. However, it was still successful enough that she has begun planning another.

“It has already been decided that in October we will have the next one,” said Bocarius.

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