To accommodate this year's unique challenges, the Performing Arts Department reimagined Candlelight as a different kind of event.
Rather than hosting all performances in the Chapel, ensembles were staged around campus and the audience was organized into small groups that moved to the different locations together to experience performances that repeated themselves every thirty minutes. In describing the event, Performing Arts Department Head Michael Ake explained “the event was like a reverse Christmas caroling performance.”
Masks and social distancing were required to mitigate the spread of coronavirus but they did not stop the spread of holiday spirit. Overall, the performers and audience members were pleased with how the live performances turned out.
“For the first time in over thirty years,” said Michael Ake, “we had a blank slate for Candlelight and there were no expectations. We began thinking about how we might still bring the community together safely.” Some ideas that were considered included a virtual performance using alumni narrators from around the country. The advantage of this would have been including people who normally would not have the opportunity to participate. In the end, however, preserving the in-the-moment connection between performer, composer, and audience was the deciding factor in proceeding to create a safe in-person performance.
Redesigning Candlelight served to inspire new insights into its magic. “In the midst of the uncertainty, as traditions were being examined and changed,” said Mr. Ake, “I was reminded that what makes Candlelight special is not the pageantry, sets, tuxedos, and decorations. It is the students sharing the gift of music and the community coming together to connect with performers and composers and to celebrate what makes McCallie so special.”
I was reminded that what makes Candlelight special is not the pageantry, sets, tuxedos, and decorations. It is the students sharing the gift of music and the community coming together to connect with performers and composers and to celebrate what makes McCallie so special.