It’s a magical moment in every Randolph school year, and the Candlelight Concert of 2012 exceeded our lofty expectations. Last week we gathered in the Thurber Arts Center for our annual holiday celebration of choral music, and students representing grades 3-12 lifted our spirits and warmed our hearts as we took time from the end-of-semester busyness to give thanks for what binds us together here at Randolph and around the world.
There were too many highlights to number, but the Young Voices shared some beautiful and stirring music to get the concert launched. I always marvel at the handchimes ensembles under the direction of Mrs. Hoppe, and this year she brought down the house with a rousing solo as part of the Raider Voices’ rendition of “Variations on Jingle Bells.”
It’s the progression of music through the years that matters most, and seeing (and hearing!) how the program develops is testimony to the value of a K-12 school. The arts faculty sequence and stage material in an intentional manner, and it’s great fun for me to watch the students grow as choristers through the years.
This is the second year that Director of Choirs Chris Walters has shaped the Upper School Music Fundamentals class around a public performance as their end-of-semester assessment. I love this approach to teaching and learning, and appreciate that Chris has re-designed what had historically been a music appreciation/lecture-based course into an opportunity to make music. As he told us last week, “music is, ultimately, a human activity. It’s something that we do, meaning the only way to truly learn about music is to do it.” So these nine ninth graders stepped up and performed “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen,” and then a hilariously impressive representation of “Football!”, a satire on the sounds of the stadium.
Lea Hoppe, Katie Hoppe-McQueen, and Chris Walters are leading our choir program to a new frontier. Many veteran parents remarked at the reception after the performance that the program has jumped to a new level, and I completely agree. The joyful enthusiasm of our students, coupled with their growing mastery of demanding skills, made for one of the highlight evenings of the year.
But beyond the sheer quality of the concert, I was most emotionally moved by the sight of the students performing together. For the last two numbers every student chorister from grades 3-12, including the Music Fundamentals students who might never have imagined such an occasion, stepped on stage to bind us all together. They were for those precious moments all equal and all part of a web of student-artists committed to sharing something beautiful in a broken world that yearns for wholeness and inclusion. One parent at the reception told me privately, “This is why my children are at Randolph, and this is why we make the sacrifice for them to be here.”
“Light a Candle” and “Let There Be Peace on Earth” were the final two songs that our Combined Choirs shared at the Candlelight Concert. The beauty of the evening still rings in my ears, and the hope of the season made manifest by the Randolph choirs is a fitting way for us to celebrate the holiday and renew our commitment to a better world, one child at a time.