Sinatra Star Celebrates 75

By Matt Robinson | 2/18/2013, 4:30 a.m.
Radio legend Ron Della Chiesa brings the swing to Raffael’s February 15. By Matt Robinson ...
Ron Della Chiesa (left) with fellow Boston music legend Fred Taylor

Radio legend Ron Della Chiesa brings the swing to Raffael’s February 15.

In the world of popular music, there are a few legends who are instantly recognizable and who always seemed to have a party going on around them.

One of these was, of course, Frank Sinatra. Not only could he be known by his first or last name alone, but millions of fans refer to him simply as “The Voice.” Whether in New York or Vegas, Sinatra was always the center of attention and always gave full attention to whomever he was with at the time.

In the world of Boston radio, we have our own “Voice.” Ron Della Chiesa has been a staple on the stereo for over 50 years – first at WBUR and WBCN and still today on both WGBH (where he is “the voice” of the Boston Symphony Orchestra) and WPLM (where he has hosted his weekly show “Strictly Sinatra” show for over 16 years). While his gig at Symphony Hall has allowed him to expand upon his already encyclopedic knowledge of and passion for Classical music and Opera (and also Jazz), it is perhaps as the host of the Sinatra show that Della Chiesa has made the most stir.

On February 15, Ron will stir it up again as he brings his popular Sinatra-themed concerts to Raffael’s at the South Shore Country Club in Hingham.

“It’s a swinging evening of great live dance music,” Della Chiesa says. “Our singers and bands always play the music of Sinatra, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett and Big Band Classics.”

The live show has been a popular staple on the scene for over 10 years. What makes this show extra special, however, is that it will also mark Della Chiesa’s 75th birthday!

“It's different for me because birthdays always mark their time,” explains Della Chiesa, who recently took up boxing at Gold’s Gym in South Boston. “For me it's the music.”

While Della Chiesa clearly loves the music and looks forward to every broadcast, he says that the sounds and sights of people singing along and dancing to their favorite popular tunes add a great new aspect to the music. “I love seeing the audience and the interaction,” he beams. “I never get that in a studio!”

 As for how and when his own love of music came about, Della Chiesa admits that he never considered himself a musician, but explains that, as a “youngster,” he played trumpet in school and spent many afternoons at Symphony Hall listening to the BSO.

“My father had a huge collection of opera recordings,” he recalls, “and I became fascinated with the music of Puccini, Verdi and Rossini.  I also began to explore the Jazz world visiting the clubs, and building my record collection of Jazz, Classical, and Opera.”

 Though he is now most closely identified with Frank, Della Chiesa also explains that his first “favorite” artists were actually the great tenor Enrico Caruso and the legendary horn player and Jazz entrepreneur Louis Armstrong. “Caruso…was responsible for creating the recording industry,” Della Chiesa suggests, “and Armstrong just about invented Jazz.”