Staples High School’s 81st annual Candlelight Concert — but first of the 2020s decade — awed audiences this weekend, with stunning performances by nearly 200 young musicians and singers.
(Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)
With slight tweaks — an almost indiscernible new arrangement of “Sing We Noel,” snappy staging, even a new font in the program — the beloved event held on to all its important rituals, while offering fresh takes that showcased astonishing individual talents, and tremendous collaboration among teachers and groups.
A festive scene greeted concert-goers in the auditorium lobby. (Photo/Dan Woog)
Along with offerings from the Symphonic Band, Symphonic Orchestra nd Choirs, highlights included (but were hardly limited to) the Jazz Combo’s “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”; the String Quartet’s “Andante Festivo”; the Percussion Ensemble’s “Nutcracker to Go,” and the show-stopping “Fantasie for Piano, Choir & Orchestra Op. 80” by Beethoven, with vocal soloists and a mesmerizing performance by senior pianist Sasha Maskoff.
Another tradition: Alice Addicks greeting the audience. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)
Each music instructor took turns leading combined group. Take a well-deserved bow, Luke Rosenberg, Carrie Mascaro, Phil Giampietro and Jeri Hockensmith — and your scores of talented, passionate performing artists.
(Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)
“Sing We Noel” processional (Photo/Dan Woog)
Orchestra director Jeri Hockensmith leads “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers.” (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)
All eyes are on the conductor. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)
Phil Giampietro acknowledges applause for the band and orchestra. (Photo/Dan Woog)
Masks did not detract at all from the choral selections. (Photo/Dan Woog)
Choral director Luke Rosenberg helped mastermind the 2021 Candlelight Concert. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)
Jeffrey Pogue and Shanti Wimmer solo on the Jazz Ensemble’s “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)
Sasnta and friend, in Don Rickenback’s peppy production number (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)
Carrie Mascaro conducts the rousing “Hallelujah Chorus.” (Photo/Dan Woog)
Adding a bit of color to the Symphonic Band. (Photo/Dan Woog)
Staples music instructors (from left) Jeri Hockesmith,Don Rickenback, Mary Gardner, Luke Rosenberg, Phil Giampietro and Caitlin Serpliss acknowledge applause of their musicians after the “Hallelujah Chorus.” (Photo/Dan Woog)
Dozens of alumni joined nearly 200 musicians onstage for the “Hallelujah Chorus” finale. (Photo/Danielle Dobin)
Missed the concert? Mark this coming Thursday (December 23, 8 p.m.); click on www.StaplesMusic.org, for a streamed, previously recorded show.
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Even after half a century, being a part of Candlelight is entwined in who I am today. I’m sure that my sister and my daughter, both of whom were part of Candlelight, under the direction of George Weigle and John Ohanion, would share that feeling.
Dan: Here is a copy of the letter I sent to our amazing Staples Music Department after yesterday’s performance.
Dear Phil, Carrie, Jeri, Luke, Caitlin, Mary and Steve:
I just got home from the 3:00 performance of this year’s Candlelight Concert (#81).
The entire performance blew me away: the new staging, the brass arrangement of “Welcome Yule” and every single song right through to the “Hallelujah Chorus” was mind-blowing. I laughed (the Percussion Ensemble’s rendition of “Nutcracker To Go” was so fun), I cried (the Beethoven combined number?! Bring tissues.) and I reminisced (“Sing We Noel” was spot on). Every single group was well-rehearsed and sounded truly professional. (I also think the Leroy Anderson “Christmas Festival” should become a new annual tradition.). I could list every single ensemble and song, but you can just watch it when it’s streamed on 12/23. I highly recommend that you do.
Thanks to all of you for your incredible hard work on behalf of our town. As a school employee, homeowner/taxpayer, native and parent, I am beyond grateful for all you’ve done for our community.
Sing & Play Daily & Stay Healthy! – Suzanne
Suzanne, you are spot on. You nailed it! But you are way too modest. You deserve plenty of “props” (ho ho) too, for your role as a Greens Farms Elementary School music teacher. You gave many of those performers their start. They would not be where they are without you!
In all the craziness we’re still experiencing right now, thank goodness for the Candelight Concert. First it made me cry, then it took my breath away and then it gave me peace for my soul. Thank you, Staples Music Dept, for keeping up the tradition and the best gift ever!