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Season's Greetings Stetson University Christmas Candlelight Concert: presented by the School of Music

Silent Night, Holy Night

"Silent Night" or “Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!” was first heard on Christmas Eve of 1818 in a small village church in Oberndorf, Austria. Silent Night was originally written as a poem by Joseph Mohr in 1816. On Christmas Eve of 1818, Franz Xaver Gruber composed a melody to fit the poem written by Mohr. That same day, “Silent Night, Holy Night" was performed for the first time by Mohr and Gruber accompanied by Mohr’s guitar. Today, "Silent Night" is one of the world's most famous Christmas carols and part of a beautiful Stetson University tradition.
Stetson University has the oldest School of Music in Florida, and holiday concerts play a large role in the rich history of Stetson. In fact, for over 100 years, Stetson has held a holiday concert. The Christmas Candlelight Concert also has been a Stetson tradition for about 40 years. Many DeLand residents who come to Christmas Candlelight have been attending for years.
This year, the School of Music expanded its audience to Orlando with one performance of the Christmas Candlelight Concert at First United Methodist Church of Orlando. This performance was in addition to the three sold-out performances at Lee Chapel in historic Elizabeth Hall.

Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!

Stetson University celebrated the 200th anniversary of "Silent Night" by staying true to the original version played by Joseph Mohr and Franz Xaver Gruber with only vocals and a guitar. According to the "Silent Night" legend, the organ of the church in the small village of Oberndorf was broken on Christmas Eve, but that did not stop Joseph Mohr and Franz Xaver Gruber from arranging the beautiful carol with guitar accompaniment.

The concert brought together more than 200 students from Stetson’s three choirs—the Concert Choir, Women’s Chorale and Stetson Men—along with members of the Chamber Orchestra, brass and winds from the Symphonic Band, and organ.

Student Perspective

"Unique" and "inspiring" are the words that Damien Bleus, president of Concert Choir, and Kelly Wildermuth , treasurer and secretary of Concert Choir, use to describe the School of Music. Damien explained, "It is an experience to be a part of it. We dedicate ourselves to a very specific craft…it is a lifestyle being in the School of Music." Along with Damien and Kelly, 200 other students gathered to perform in the Christmas Candlelight Concert and contribute to the amazing experience.
For Eshtemoh Morgan, President of Stetson Men, being involved in the 200th anniversary of "Silent Night" is a privilege. The beginning of candlelight this year started with Eshtemoh playing the guitar. As soloist, Melissa Feurich sang the beginning of "Silent Night." Eshtemoh explained, "To get to play guitar and recreate that scene, it's really an honor because that's a significant piece of music and to recreate it is truly amazing." "To me the coolest part is being so immersed in the performance that you don't care about anything else," said Amy Walton. Amy is a soprano in the Concert Choir and this year was just her second time performing in this event, "With candlelight, there's an idea that there will be a magical experience, and every single night it happens and every night it's different."
“My favorite thing about Candlelight is how many people come together in one space to celebrate not only Christmas, but music in general. I think my favorite feeling in Candlelight is when we walk on stage…nothing compares to Candlelight because when you first walk out on that stage there’s just so many people. It's filled to capacity. Every single show, every year there are so many people that you get on stage and you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ There are just so many people.'" -Kelly Wildermuth
Marissa Weis
Anthony Capizzi
Selina Fernandez

Behind the Scenes

Preparation for the concert began in late October as students started learning music and practicing for this special event. Each group practiced separately to learn their songs as well as learning "Silent Night," then they came together for dress rehearsals and concert nights.

"My favorite thing about Candlelight is the Sunday rehearsal when everyone gets back from Thanksgiving break. Everyone is scattering, running around but it’s so amazing to see when we start rehearsal everyone gets focused and is in the zone for Candlelight and it’s an experience." - Damien Bleus
Every year, a small group of students volunteer to help decorate historic Lee Chapel in preparation for the Christmas Candlelight Concerts.

"Silent Night" 360 Video

Gallery

Happy Holidays from Stetson University!

Created By
Faith Jones
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Photo Credits Faith Jones

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