By Brandon Addeo | The Duquesne Duke
Italian music, instrumentalists and dramatic hip hop readings — all these were on tap at a benefit concert hosted by the Duquesne law school last Friday evening.
Duquesne’s Italian-American Law Society sponsored the fifth annual La Legge con Brio at the PNC Recital Hall in the Mary Pappert Music School. The concert benefited the Women’s Cancer Center of Magee Women’s Hospital and Panucci’s Promise, an organization established in the memory of Peggy Panucci, the mother of a Duquesne law alumnus who passed away from breast cancer in 2011 at 53 years old.
Translated as “the law with spirit,” the proceeds of La Legge con Brio go towards the purchase of therapeutic chairs by Panucci’s Promise, which are donated to women undergoing chemotherapy treatment at the Magee Cancer Center. Four chairs will be donated, costing $12,000 total, according to Robin Connors, event coordinator for the law school.
The atmosphere of the concert was decidedly light-hearted, and that’s how Peggy Panucci would have wanted it, said her son, Brian Panucci, a Duquesne law graduate and attorney at PC Law Associates in Green Tree.
“I figure [the event] really does capture her spirit — have a few drinks, have a few laughs, food, enjoy some music,” Brian Panucci said.
Panucci’s Promise decided to donate the therapeutic chairs specifically because Peggy Panucci used the same type of chair during her cancer treatment, according to Genevieve Pecharka, the former chair of the Italian-American Law Society and a vocal performer in the concert.
“That was always the goal, we wanted it to go straight to a hospital or straight to a local cause, and for it to be breast cancer related,” Pecharka said.
Panucci described his mother as a “warm” person with an “overwhelmingly positive attitude.”
“She always wanted to help everyone else out … she’d be very proud we’re continuing this tradition because we’re getting together, we’re having a good time,” Brian Panucci said. “Obviously I’m biased, but she was the best.”
The first La Legge con Brio concert began when Brian Panucci was still a student at Duquesne, and he said it’s “incredible” the events have continued after his graduation.
The concert featured performances by a pianist, a cellist, violinists and vocalists singing in Italian.
There was one performer, however, who didn’t quite fit the mold of the classical music his peers were performing.
“I knew I had something that was a little bit different from what the other acts were, so they invited me to come [perform],” said Eric Harvey, a 2013 graduate of Duquesne’s law school.
In a room full of suits, ties and dresses, Harvey stood out with his black cowboy hat and red cowboy-style vest and jeans. He played several country tunes on the fiddle.
The concert’s Master of Ceremonies was Mark Yochum, a professor in the law school. He brought comedic “flavor” to the event, Panucci said, as Yochum offered history lessons of classic hip hop and performed dramatic readings of raps by artists like Grandmaster Flash and the Beastie Boys.
Brian Panucci believes the upbeat tone of the annual concerts are the best way to remember his mother.
“We’re trying not to focus on the negatives, just trying to help people and do things positive,” he said.
“[My mother] would’ve loved [the concerts],” he concluded with a smile. “She would’ve maybe drank too much wine at a couple of them.”