Crooner and Leonardo Da Vinci Academy alum David Marino set to Lite Up The Night at school fundraiser
By Jordan Stoopler
Montreal, May 23, 2023 – David Marino’s ties to Leonardo Da Vinci Academy (LDVA) in RDP run deep. Not only is the 24-year-old jazz crooner a proud alum of the Riviere-des-Prairies school, his mother Angela Vitulano has taught there for over two decades.
“It’s a great school and I had the best time at LDVA,” said Marino. “It’s always held a special place in my heart. The school is very important to me and my family.”
Marino will be returning to sing at the school on June 2 as part of a school fundraiser, billed as Leonardo Da Vinci Academy Lites Up the Night for the Neuro. The event, which will include musical performances, special tributes, a walk/run from the school to a nearby park and closing dance party, is in support of the McGill University Health Centre’s Montreal Neurological Institute.
“LDVA has been supporting the Neuro since 2016,” said school principal Nadia Sammarco. “It started with very small-scale fundraisers, such as dress-down days and bake sales as well as color runs and fashion shows. I got together with teacher Sabrina Gavita, who led us down this path. She lost her father to a battle. She spoke about how the Neuro made a huge impact on her father. Although he did not survive it, she wanted her dad’s legacy to live on.”
The school has also seen its longtime physical education teacher Daniel Gaudette battle a brain tumor, first diagnosed in December of 2020.
“We are a firm believer that the Neuro has saved his life,” said Ms. Sammarco. “He is on the road to recovery and on his way back to teach. We’re so grateful. Through this journey, we’ve learned how the Neuro has impacted so many different lives. We want to give back and show the students, no matter how old you are, you can make a difference.”
There is a personal connection to the cause for Marino as well.
“The Neuro and anything having to do with mental health and the brain is very important to me,” he said. “I’ve been involved in mental health fundraising since I was 15 years old. I organized concerts and we raised over $50,000 for a psychiatric department at the Jewish General. My grandfather was at the Neuro with a back injury and had to learn how to walk again. The Neuro is a great place to give back to and I’m just happy to be involved.”
Marino, who also graduated from Vincent Massey Collegiate, will sing “One Voice” alongside a 30-person choir, made up of students from Grades 3-6. The choir will be accompanied by 4-year-olds from Ms. Vitulano’s Pre-Kindergarten class, who will hold glowsticks and lights during the performance.
For Marino, who has been rehearsing with the choir at the school under the leadership of music teacher Vitalem Alriche, it is truly a full-circle moment.
“I had a music teacher at LDVA, Ms. Jewel, who was wonderful,” he said. “I played trumpet. I remember wishing there was more music at the school at the time and I am just so happy now that there is involvement with the kids and the choir. I think it is great for the school, the community and for music in general. It is important to encourage kids to be musical.”
Marino was first initiated himself to music at the age of three, when his parents enrolled him in violin lessons. He began taking singing lessons when he was six, developing a particular love for jazz standards. He credits Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin and Michael Bublé as his musical inspirations. Marino finished third on the fifth season of the singing competition series La Voix. His young career has seen him perform at concert halls across Quebec, New York and Italy.
Ms. Sammarco, a music lover herself, hopes to instill a similar love of music to current students from a very young age.
“From the early age of four years old, the students are introduced and immersed into music,” she said. “When we see that spark in students, we encourage them to go even further. We have kids who stay in during recess and lunch just to improve their skills. It’s really just highlighting the arts and giving them a way to express themselves.”
Marino credits LDVA with nurturing his love for singing and is excited to pay it forward for an important cause.
“There’s no place like home,” Marino said. “It’s always important to look to where I came from. I wouldn’t be performing in different countries or on different stages had it not been for where I started. It’s definitely more special for me to sing at the place I went to as a kid and where my mom teaches. It’s meaningful and I’m excited.”
Leonardo Da Vinci Academy Lites Up the Night for the Neuro will take place on Friday June 2nd beginning at 6:30 pm at the school (12025 Andre-Dumas). Dinner and dessert will be served. For tickets, please contact the school. For those unable to attend, donations can be made at https://crowdfunding.mcgill.ca/ui/main/p/ldva. A tax receipt will be issued.
David Marino will also be performing on August 12 at Place des Arts and on August 20 at the Upstairs Jazz Club in Montreal.
About the English Montreal School Board
With a youth and adult sector population of more than 35,000 students, the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) is the largest English public school board in Quebec. Established on July 1, 1998, when the province created new boards along linguistic lines, the EMSB network consists of 73 schools and centres. For more details, visit the EMSB website at www.emsb.qc.ca.
Michael J. Cohen
Manager, Marketing and Communications
English Montreal School Board