Candles and Carols Returns to AU Dec. 3

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Anderson, Ind. — Anderson University’s (AU) Candles and Carols event will return this winter as an in-person performance on Friday, Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m. in Reardon Auditorium. This annual Christmas concert is presented each year as a gift to the citizens of Anderson and Madison County, and beyond.

The event began in 1965 when Dr. Dale Bengtson, chair of the Anderson College (University) music department, had an idea. What if a Christmas gathering was created featuring all the ensembles of the music department? How special would it be if the audience was invited to sing along with traditional Christmas carols? These ideas were posed to the dean of the faculty at that time, Robert Nicholson, and soon became the cornerstone of Candles and Carols.

Even though the pandemic prevented a live performance in 2020, the event was live-streamed so as not to break this long-standing tradition. One of the hallmarks of the evening is when the audience joins the college choirs and instrumental ensembles in the singing of Christmas carols. In the words of Dr. Jeffrey Wright, current dean of AU’s School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, “Hearing 2,000 people join their voices is stunning; and hearing people sing all the harmony parts is moving. The sound is so rich and full, and it reminds us of what we can be when we are all united in our efforts.”

Throughout the years, some changes have been seen. The addition of the AU orchestra has been a symphonic partner to the wind ensemble. Choreographed pieces performed by the students of AU’s dance program have added dimension to the evening’s offerings, as well. These new entities have been embraced by the audiences, leaving them wanting for more.

Candles and Carols is one of the few times we come together on our campus to celebrate a common event,” said Wright. “The Christmas Story has a way of imparting hope to all who hear it.” And with lighted candles lifted to the strains of Silent Night, that unity is symbolized.

This year’s event will take place Friday, December 3, 2021 — the 57th year of this yuletide treasure.

Anderson University is on a mission to educate students for lives of faith and service, offering more than 60 undergraduate majors, 30 three-year degrees, 20 NCAA Division III intercollegiate sports, alongside adult and graduate programs. The private, liberal arts institution is fully accredited and recognized among top colleges for its business, computer science, cybersecurity, dance, engineering, nursing, and teacher education programs. Anderson University was established in 1917 in Anderson, Indiana, by the Church of God.

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