Candlelight Winter Concert 2023

Vermont Academy’s Candlelight Winter Concert is a wonderful VA tradition that brings the Wildcat community together for a night of the arts, togetherness, and peace. This year, the festivities were held the evening of December 12. Family, friends, and the entire VA community attended the annual performance, supporting our talented and passionate student performers.
On the journey down Long Walk from Formal Meal in Shepardson Center to the Nita Choukas Theater in Horowitz Performing Arts Hall for the show, the Vermont Academy community carried lit candles in a “Candlelit Walk for Peace,” to stand for peace over violence.

We celebrate Candlelight, an evening of performances that include readings and songs from faculty and students, to highlight the arts and joyous holiday season at Vermont Academy.

Before the curtain opened, works of literature and photography from Yuliang “Raymond” Feng ’25 and Khiêm Nguyen ’24 were featured on the screen.

Sofia Bianconi ’24 opened the program with a seasonal reading of “A Winter’s Eden” by Robert Frost. Following her words was a performance from the Vermont Academy Chamber Ensemble. They played “Shalom Aleichem”, arranged by Performing Arts Chair Steve Cady, “I Saw Three Ships”, arranged by Donald Mathews, and “Florindez”, a traditional Brazilian piece arranged by Mr. Cady.

The Vermont Academy Vocal Ensemble then took to the stage to perform “Oh, How Lovely is the Evening”, a traditional German piece arranged by Vocal Ensemble Director Ashley Storrow, “The Longest Night”, also arranged by Ms. Storrow, and “Oh, Winter”, a spiritual Bahamian piece arranged by Peter Amidon.

Maya Sbardellati ’25 returned to the stage for a Seasonal Reading of “The Birthday of The World” by Marge Piercy.

A combined performance of “Winter Song” by Sarah Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson, arranged by Mr. Cady, was then performed by the Vermont Academy Vocal and Chamber Ensembles.

As a special addition, the audience was treated to a performance by the Kurn Hattin Choir of Kurn Hattin Homes for Children in Westminster, VT. They performed the traditional song “Dona Nobis Pacem”, and the song “The Prayer” by Foster, both conducted and arranged by Kurn Hattin Music Director and VA parent Lisa Bianconi P '08, '08, '11, '11, '24. The connection between Vermont Academy and Kurn Hattin Homes dates back more than 80 years and it was wonderful to have them back on stage for this performance.

The Vermont Academy Dance Team was next to grace the stage with an originally choreographed routine to “Dance of The Sugar Plum Fairy” by Dance Coach Lindsey Fitzgerald.

Mr. Cady read excerpts from “Winnie the Pooh” by A.A. Milne between the two dances, such as “I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart for so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.”

The dancers returned to the stage after Mr. Cady’s exit to perform a festive routine to “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”, choreographed by Maggie Burnham.

The Kurn Hattin Choir came back up to perform “Were You There on That Christmas Night?” by Natalie Sleeth and “A Million Dreams” by Ziv Zaifman, with Sofia Bianconi ’24, Lisa’s daughter and former choir member, joining the choir on the latter song.

The Vermont Academy Jazz Ensemble played “French Noel”, a traditional French piece arranged by Mr. Cady, “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley, arranged by Mr. Cady, and “Three Guys” arranged by Bob Turner. 

The Jazz and Chamber Ensembles came together to play “Come Sunday” by Duke Ellington, arranged by Mr. Cady.

All VA Ensembles then took to the stage to perform the classic “Vermont Academy Evening Song” by D. Parker and G. Leavitt, arranged by Mr. Cady. 

The final spoken word piece of the evening was presented by Head of School Dr. Jennifer L. Zaccara who shared the poem “Snow Day” by Billy Collins.

For the show’s finale, all VA ensembles and the Kurn Hattin Choir joined together for a special rendition of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” arranged by Paul Murtha. The audience couldn’t help but join in on the Christmas classic, clapping their hands to the beat.

Vermont Academy Vocal Ensemble
Ms. Ashley Storrow, Director
Sofia Bianconi ’24
Libby Cooper ’25
Raymond Feng ’25
Suki Lambert ’25
Caitlin Masure ’25
Casey Rhodes ’27
Maya Sbardellati ’25

Vermont Academy Jazz Ensemble
Mr. Steve Cady, Director
Sofia Bianconi ’24
Bryce Boyd-Tucker ’24
Eric Chen ’27
Asper Donath ’26
Mason Evans ’26
Ana Hernandez-Merkle ’25
Charlie Hodgson ’25
Hale Hurwitz ’27
Aly Lantz ’25
Caitlin Masure ’25
Oliver Norkun ’26
Sydney Palmiotto ’24
Luke Pennell ’26
Morgan Studin ’25
Oliver Walsh-Fischetti ’25

Vermont Academy Chamber Music Ensemble
Mr. Steve Cady, Director
Bryce Boyd-Tucker ’24
Asper Donath ’26
Suki Lambert ’25
Caitlin Masure ’25
Ana Hernandez-Merkle ’25
Catherine Min ’27
Sydney Palmiotto ’24
Morgan Studin ’25

Vermont Academy Dance Team
Ms. Lindsey Fitzgerald, Coach
Lexi Berrettini ’24
Ruby Besson ’25
Grace Duffy ’24
Sydney Palmiotto ’24
Rico Putnam-Pouliot ’24
Morgan Studin ’25

Kurn Hattin Choir
Ms. Lisa Bianconi, Director
Christiana Adedeji
Jazmine Boisseau
Jocelynn Boucher
Danasiah Chaplin
Aaliyaih Duby
Emmery Dundore
Mikayla Frazier
Polina Lever
Soma Lever
Aria Norway
Kahlan Riker
Jocelynn Smith
Alana Vose
Sophia Wald
Danicka Warren

Technical Team
Andy Darcy ’25 - Lighting Design
Zach Ash-Bristol - Light Programming
Dane Mulverhill ’24 - Light Board Operator
Ethan Muenkel ’24 - Sound Board Operator
Scenic Preparations - Jonathan Barron ’96, Afternoon Theater Tech

Guest Musicians
Ben Weiner - Keyboard Bass
Steve Miceli - Drum Set

Special thanks go to Lisa Eckhardt McNealus ’79, AMT Productions, Vermont Academy Facilities and Housekeeping, and The Bob ’37 and Beth Campbell Fund for the Arts and Lecture Series.
Vermont Academy is a coed college preparatory boarding and day school in southern Vermont, serving grades 9-12 plus a postgraduate year.