OCEAN CITY – A Christmas concert is expected to address the opioid epidemic with messages of hope for children and their families.
On Saturday, Dec. 15, Brian’s Christmas Songbook will return to the Ocean City Performing Arts Center.
Organizer Tony Christ said the concert will feature traditional Christmas carols, contemporary holiday songs, storytelling, performances by the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra and George Washington portrayer James Renwick Manship, and appearances from Santa and his elf.
“This is a very interactive show,” he said.
And while the concert celebrates the joy and hope of the holiday season through an anthology of songs, Christ said the goal of the show is to influence young children to resist the temptation of drugs.
“Music is an effective medium to touch an emotion …,” he said. “We want these kids to remember this concert and fill them with hope.”
For Christ, the message is personal. His son, Brian, died of a heroin overdose on Dec. 15, 2004. It was only after his death that teachers and doctors informed the Christs of their son’s addiction.
“Federal law ensures that a parent will be the last one to know,” he said. “The parent finds out today when the child is addicted, has overdosed, is dead or is in jail.”
And while he is working with Sen. elect Mary Beth Carozza and Del. elect Wayne Hartman to introduce legislation – entitled Brian’s Rule – that would allow educational institutions to inform parents of a student’s destructive or illegal behaviors, Christ said the concert will be another way to “reconnect” families.
“It’s an attempt to reconnect and let younger people know that they should have hope,” he said. “I think it will be effective. I think it is effective.”
Melissa Alesi, lead soloist in “Brian’s Christmas Song,” agreed.
“It’s helping to create community and togetherness in a world that is lacking that,” she said.
Christ said the concert will feature songs found on “Brian’s Christmas Songbook,” an album he produced in 2016 with Alesi and musicians Lauren Glick, John Abella, Ken Celia and Dennis Crawford. He added that children will also have an opportunity to come on stage and be a part of the performance. Families are encouraged to arrive early.
“There are all kinds of Christmas shows,” he said, “but to have a story surrounded by music makes us a little unique.”
Christ noted that the event will also sell sponsorship tickets, which will enable families and at-risk youth to attend the concert.
“We will be able to reach people that have never had a chance to hear a beautiful Christmas concert with a message,” he said.
“It’s a chance to experience culture that you might not get to experience otherwise,” she said.
After the concert, Christ said attendees will have an opportunity to meet the musicians and performers in the lobby, take pictures with Santa and more.
“We are a production of Ocean City,” he said. “Ocean City is entertainment, it’s leisure, it’s vacationing, it’s hospitality. What better way than through music to attack the opioid epidemic?”
Brian’s Christmas Songbook will be held on Dec. 15 at 4 p.m. at the Ocean City Performing Arts Center. Tickets are available for $10 and can be purchase at the box office or online at www.ticketmaster.com.
“Buddy Jenkins, one of our sponsors, said if you save one kid it’s worthwhile,” he said. “But I’ve got bigger ambitions than that. I think these kids will carry it with them and I think it will help them.”