Friends University is expanding, moving its annual Candlelight Concert

·3 min read

A holiday tradition at Friends University is expanding in a big way.

“For the first time since the start of Christmas Candlelight at Friends University, our concert will include all of our major ensembles in fine arts,” said Rayvon T.J. Moore, artistic director of the concerts and director of the college’s Singing Quakers.

The concerts will be next weekend and will be recorded to air on KPTS six times over the Christmas weekend.

The Singing Quakers and College Choir have always been a part of the performance, but Moore has expanded the roster to include the Falcon Chorus, Women’s Choir, orchestra, concert band, jazz band, Latin jazz band, dancers and an alumni choir. A flute choir will play in the lobby as the audience enters Central Community Church, the new location for the performance.

“This is Friends University fine arts’ present to the community,” said Moore, who was recently named interim co-chair of the university’s fine arts department. “We just want to provide an experience for our community, something where folks can come in and immediately feel the joy of Christmas.”

Last year, the concert was performed without an audience and livestreamed because of COVID limitations.

The concert will be visually varied this year, said Moore, in his second year at Friends.

“It’s a way to create much more of a ‘wow’ factor,” he said. “Nowadays in music we have to think about different performance aspects and how we can engage the audience and keep their attention and their engagement throughout an entire concert. By having diversity in styles and diversity in ensembles, it keeps folks engaged.”

Moore says the expanded concert lineup is similar to the showcase of fine arts during the holidays that he experienced while in college.

“I come from a tradition that involved everybody in fine arts, and I wanted to be able to do that not only to build community outside of Friends but to build community within Friends, within the department itself,” he said. “This is something we take part in together as a division. So, it’s something we all can be proud of.”

The program will have a variety of music, Moore said, including “those Christmas classics that people still listen to and sing along to in their cars that we also want them to experience in person.”

The Candlelight Concert is also incorporating other members of the Friends community, he said, including scriptures read by an athletic coach and a professor of history and politics.

The students are excited about the expanded program, Moore said.

“They cannot wait,” he said. “I know a lot of our instrumental students have been wanting to be a part of Candlelight, and it’s always good for choral singers to do things with a full orchestra.”

Moore is one of several new faculty members in fine arts, whom he said bring new energy and new ideas to build on the university’s mainstays.

“That’s the goal, that this becomes the new normal, the new tradition, if you will,” he said.

Friends University Candlelight Concert

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3 and 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4

Where: Central Community Church, 6100 W. Maple, Wichita

Tickets: $16 adults, $12 students/seniors (55 and older), at 295-5677 or friends.edu/fineartstickets.

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