If you are looking for a kick-off to the holidays, look no further than Wiedemann Hall. Tonight the Wichita State School of Music presents the third and final showing of its 50th annual Candlelight Concert.
“For me, this is the concert that kicks off the Christmas season,” professor Tom Wine, director of choral activities, said. “There’s something about it that says ‘it’s time to start Christmas.’”
Since 1962, the Candlelight Concert has ushered in the Christmas season—conductor Harrison “Bud” Boughton started the tradition. Boughton returned to the conductor’s stand for Sunday night’s performance. He directed a performance of “Beautiful Savior” that combined the current WSU choirs with 60 choir alumni.
“The Candlelight Concert is the best and biggest concert of the year for us,” Emily Monrad, Madrigals and Women’s Glee member, said. “It’s my favorite because we usually do big works with mass choirs and a full orchestra, plus it’s one of the only concerts of the year that you can hear all four choirs [A Cappella Choir, Women’s Glee, Concert Chorale and Madrigal Singers] at the same event.”
Three of the works performed were commissioned specifically for the Candlelight Concert. The works were written by Wine, former assistant professor of choral music René Clausen and WSU alumna Brenda Heard. All three pieces made their world premieres during Sunday afternoon’s performance.
Wine said the audience can participate in more familiar Christmas carols during the performance. The concert also features what the audience may consider “traditional” choir music and some new arrangements of old favorites.
“It [the Candlelight Concert] gives us a chance to do some of the greatest choral works available; those sacred songs written about the birth of Christ, not to mention all the great jazz arrangements of the carols we all love,” Monrad said.
The concert is about fusing the old and new. While that mostly happens through the music, those who planned the concert found fun ways to incorporate tradition and memories.
“We collected pictures from early concerts and put them in the programs,” Wine said. “We have pictures from the ‘70s and ‘80s and you can tell right away from the girls’ hair.” On a more serious note he said, “It’s about understanding the legacy.”
“My favorite part of the concert is when we sing ‘Personent Hodie’ with full orchestra in mass choir, with all the students filled into the house of Wiedemann Hall,” Monrad said. “It’s truly moving. The live surround sound and the music itself fill the hall to the brim. I think the message conveyed is the reason why it’s always so packed.”
Whatever the reason may be, the Candlelight Concert remains a WSU tradition that continues to remind people it’s time for Christmas and will for years to come.
The final performance is at 7:30 p.m. tonight in Wiedemann Hall. Tickets are $7 for adults and $3 for students, and can be purchased at the Fine Arts Box Office at (316) 978-3233 or wichita.edu/fineartsboxoffice.