The music side
For the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, “Candles and Carols” is about focusing on the significance of the season, giving the gift of music and continuing a tradition. [Photo: Gert Kumi conducts the AU Chamber Orchestra as they rehearse for upcoming Candles and Carols program.]
“(‘Candles and Carols’ is) a part of the heritage of the university and we feel honored to continue that heritage and to try to strengthen it each year,” said Jeff Wright, dean of the College of the Arts.
There are about 250 students involved in the performance, including three instrumental, three choral and two dance ensembles. Most are music majors but there are “other majors who love to perform, serving as good representatives of students across campus,” Wright said.
The 48th annual performance is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Reardon Auditorium on the AU campus. Admission is free and the concert is open to the public.
David Evans, a senior church music major, said his four years with “Candles and Carols” have provided a great experience and a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” that he hopes new students don’t take for granted.
“I’ll always remember the voices I was able to sing with,” he said. “It’s such an amazing choir.”
With the performance filmed for broadcast nationally and around the world, he said he still gets a bit nervous but wants to express what he’s feeling as he sings and set an example for the younger students.
Wright said the scope of the performance can be overwhelming for new students as the rehearsals are different from high school: very intricate and a bit daunting. But, he added, students step up to the challenge well.
“We’re really pleased with the quantity and quality of student talent,” he said.
Wright said faculty and staff begin to prepare for the performance in May, selecting music in June or July and getting it to Covenant Productions® for copyright purposes.
He said the faculty and staff is always looking for new ways to present the performance and combine music ensembles.
“Faculty members approach every year with a watchful eye and ask questions about how to make this better for our students and more meaningful to the audience,” Wright said.
Students begin practicing in the fall with their own ensembles for a total of about 20 hours plus an additional eight hours together this week in preparation.
Evans said the time spent rehearsing is important as students are representing the university. He said he wants the audience to not only be entertained but to see the deeper meaning and the story of Christ’s birth.
For those who can’t attend the live performance, there will be DVDs and CDs available about a week later along with broadcasts on local stations.
The production side
“Candles and Carols” not only provides free music to the community but an “intense real world experience” for students.
And not just those performing, but for those working behind the scenes to film and edit the 60-minute high-definition telecast that will be shown across the country on 150 public stations and internationally on the EWTN television network.
Donald Boggs, general manager of Covenant Productions®, said it’s the 23rd year for the telecast. Not many schools do a broadcast like this.
“We put a lot of trust in our students and they continue to demonstrate their trustworthiness,” he said.
This year, he said there are eight cameras with only two professionals, the rest students.
And one in particular is directing the piece, which Boggs said is impressive for a college pupil.
Thursday night’s dress rehearsal is a “one-shot” practice in which the students will see how instruments are positioned so that they can set things up and make adjustments. This year will be different, however, because last year’s performance will be the one broadcast to TV stations this year, Boggs said.
He said it’ll give stations the time to review the performance and make commitments for December showings.
He added, though, that the students still have to move quickly to get the DVDs and CDs ready to ship in a week. They’ll begin uploading the footage immediately after the concert and edit it for a quick release.
“They’re under the gun trying to deliver and get it turned around,” Boggs said.
Wright said his department gets calls and emails every year from across the country and around the world from people who have seen “Candles and Carols” and want a copy as a permanent reminder.
“It’s very unique about Anderson University and sets us apart from other schools,” he said.
The week after they’ve finished, Boggs said the broadcast students and staff will do a “post mortem” on issues to fix and how to improve.
—Dani Palmer is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Photo credit: John P. Cleary. Story republished with permission.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.