With shows sold out, people turn to Facebook for 77th annual Candlelight Concert tickets
WESTPORT — Not many things in education stay the same for 77 years, according to Staples High School Orchestra Director Adele Valovich.
The exception is the school’s annual Candlelight Concert.
“The format actually has surprisingly remained basically the same since it was begun in 1940,” Valovich said, of the concert that includes students from throughout the school’s music department and is a fixture of Westport holiday entertainment.
The performances will encompass most of the junior and senior performing groups, opening with an orchestral number, “to settle the audience,” Valovich said, and including a processional in which the orchestra will accompany the choir, compositions from various vocal groups and performances by the symphonic and sophomore bands.
Senior Lauren Schmidt, 17, will be performing in her fourth Candlelight Concert with the orchestra, this time in the role of concertmaster, an honor bestowed upon the first chair in the violin section.
“If you look at the orchestra from the audience, I’m the one closest to the conductor on the right-hand side. I lead our section, coordinate with other sections with stringing and bowing and tune the orchestra at the beginning of the performance,” said Schmidt, who began playing violin in fourth grade.
To broker tickets
Assistant Concertmaster Jack Whitten, also a senior, will also be performing in his fourth Candlelight Concert, and will be seated beside Schmidt.
“Getting older and moving up through orchestra has been really special,” Whitten said. He’s especially excited to perform Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake,” which is his favorite composition the orchestra has played in his four years.
Schmidt said the music department began preparations for Candlelight as early as the end of the last school year. Seating auditions are held in September, at which point parts are assigned and the program of the show is finalized. Preparation begins early to prepare for what is Staples music’s biggest concert of the year.
“It’s crazy. It’s really unlike any other concert I’ve played in the Westport music system. It’s a much-larger audience and much more energetic. Plus we’re performing with the band and choir,” Schmidt said.
While the orchestra, band and choir will perform, the concert also features an original skit.
“One of the things that sets us apart from a lot of other high schools is there’s a production number, like a little skit. This year it’s an original skit written by Don Rickenback,” Valovich said.
Rickenback, who is a local director and performer, wrote “The Holiday Present,” which will be the penultimate act before the closing performance of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” from “The Messiah.”
For the finale each year, alumni are welcomed back to join the performers, with the largest alumni performance usually coming during the Saturday matinee performance.
“It really is a big deal in town,” Valovich said.
In fact, all three Candlelight performances — Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. — have again sold out, as they have regularly in years past.
The Staples High School Music Department is asking those with extra tickets to pass them on to those still looking, and suggested tickets could be brokered at the Staples Music Facebook page. Valovich said tickets for available seats will be given out at the box office leading up to each show.
“People take tickets and then plans change and they just don’t show up and we have empty seats. We’d rather have people come,” Valovich said.
“It’s a really special concert,” Schmidt said.