The Feast of Lights, a production dating back to 1942, has become the traditional kickoff to the holiday season at the University of Redlands. A celebration that tells the story of Jesus’ birth through various artistic expressions: spoken word, song, and tableaux. This year's Feast is also the first year an ASL interpreter will be present for all three nights, ensuring accessibility of the celebration to deaf and hard of hearing audience members.
Dr. Nicolle Andrews, the director of choral studies at the U of R, has been directing the Feast of Lights since 2008. “As director of the Feast of Lights,” Andrews said, “I am continually humbled being entrusted with this tradition. Each year the Feast changes, as each year we have new students performing and the celebration is a reflection of their journey. The final moment when the Chapel is glowing from the warmth of over 500 candles as we sing together as a community is so powerful and peaceful.”
Infatuated with music from a young age, Jamison Stevens ’22, ’24 began piano lessons and participated in choir during high school. Since then, his love for music has only grown and he is now pursuing his master’s in choral conducting at the U of R.
Participating in the Feast of Lights for his sixth year, he recalls the 72nd Feast of Lights to be his most memorable year: “I had the opportunity to co-compose the central ‘masterwork’ on the program with fellow alumnus Timothy Cunningham ’22. To have a world premiere of a piece for choir and orchestra at our ripe young age was an unforgettable experience for which I am extremely grateful.”
Jamison will assist in all aspects of the performance—from organizing music, managing ticket sales, to rehearsing the choir. He will also conduct two pieces in the program, sing in the choir, and direct the U of R Youth Choir on Sunday’s performance. He believes the Feast of Lights is a celebration of the community, where people from all ages and backgrounds come together to celebrate a common desire for peace, love, and hope. “Through the Feast of Lights in its exploration of the theme ‘light in darkness,’” Jamison stated, “each and every one of the audience members are able to find their own solace and leave the performance with a shared experience.
Alexandra Muyshondt ’24, a vocal performance major, has always felt a deep connection to music, enabling her to express herself and harbor interpersonal connections. Through vocal studies, she said she has learned perseverance, self-love, and discipline. Singing, for her, is a healing endeavor, posing challenges that reveal previously undiscovered aspects of herself.
Taking part in her fourth Feast of Lights as a Chapel Singer, Alexandra believes that “participating in the Feast of Lights means being part of something bigger than myself. I feel as though I tend to get caught up in my own singing and music, but it's performances like this one that show you how to use music to form a community and a safe space. It's a really magical event.”
Her favorite moment took place during last year's performance: “The choir was singing while walking through the aisles, and the audience sang along with us. It was amazing to be in a huge space filled with so much sound and profound emotion. This is what makes the Feast so special— the unique connection of experiencing it together as a community. The room lights up with warmth as it fills with the sound of music. It's a really amazing thing to experience.”
The Feast of Lights will take place on Friday, December 1 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, December 2 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, December 3 at 4 p.m. Be sure to get your tickets before they sell out — click here.