Orchestra, chorus and band students amp up for Candlelight

Fans pack the seats. A strong and jolly melody beats in the room. Lights dim, blacken, and then brighten again.
Is this the Super Bowl at halftime? Nope. It’s the Staples Candlelight Concert, which will be having its 74th annual performance the weekend of Dec. 12.
Band director Nick Mariconda and orchestra director Adele Valovich explained that some aspects of Candlelight remain the same as the first concert in the 1940s, while others have changed. At the concert’s inception, the show focused on the celebration of Christmas, now it is more about celebrating the overall holiday season. But opening the show with “Sing Me Noel” and ending with the “Hallelujah Chorus” have remained traditional.
“When I took this job I was told to start with [‘Sing Me Noel’] because it sets the tone,” Valovich said. “It’s a piece that brings people’s stress levels down, which is a goal of ours for the audience.”
According to symphonic band and symphonic orchestra member Robyn Adelkopf ’15, Candlelight is the most famous concert of the year.
“We have alumni coming from all over the country for this,” Adelkopf said. “Therefore, it’s a really big event and we take it seriously.”
Given that there is usually a packed audience and that musicians are on stage 20 minutes longer than most other performances, there is a lot of pressure. As a result, the various music classes begin preparation for the show as early as the start of September.
“It’s a lot of music to learn, but it’s also some of the most fun music we learn in the year,” choir and Orphenians member Keanan Pucci ’16 said.
Sadly, last year, a major snowstorm caused an emergency cancellation of two of the three shows. There was no reserved snow date; but, this year, the music department has been proactive, and set a snow date for the weekend.
“We were very disappointed last year because we want the audience to hear our work,” Mariconda said. “We expect and hope to play three times this year.”
Mariconda explained that the unique nature of Candlelight makes it important for those interested in the concert being able to attend.
“Since it’s a free event, Candlelight is the music department’s gift to the town,” Mariconda said. “It is a way of celebrating the arts.”