Washington Chorus hosts ‘A Candlelight Christmas’ at Kennedy Center, Strathmore

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'A Candlelight Christmas' (Part 1)

Last year, it was forced to record a virtual celebration due to pandemic restrictions.

This week, The Washington Chorus returns live and in-person with “A Candlelight Christmas” at both the Kennedy Center from Dec. 19 to Dec. 22, and Strathmore from Dec. 16 to Dec. 23.

“This is my first live and in-person performance with The Washington Chorus after almost a year and a half,” said Artistic Director Eugene Rogers, who took over in July 2020. “We’ve been working quite a bit, producing new digital content … finally, now we bring back this long tradition of this ‘Candlelight Christmas’ … it is exciting to bring back this tradition.”

The program will feature all of the holiday classics you know and love.

“We definitely will open with the Willcocks arrangement of ‘Once in Royal David’s City,’ that beautiful processional we all love,” Rogers said. “You’ll hear the National Capital Brass Percussion on traditional tunes: ‘O Come All Ye Faithful, ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’ … one of the long traditions is singing ‘Silent Night’ with the audiences, with candles.”

What are songs might we hear this time?

“One of my favorite Christmas arrangements of ‘Mary Had a Baby’ by Roland Carter, this gospel arrangement with Aundi Marie Moore, Metropolitan Opera Star, as our soloist,” Rogers said. “How can I forget the legendary ‘The Dream Isaiah Saw’ that the Washington Chorus is so known for? We could not forget that … we’ve got fun secular carols as well.”

You’ll also see high schoolers from The Duke Ellington School of the Arts and Reservoir High School as part of The Washington Chorus’ “Side by Side” program. They’ll join 80 to 100 singers on stage, accompanied by Paul Byssainthe Jr. on organ and piano.

“It’ll be a full stage of music making together,” Rogers said.” There’s something for everyone, regardless of how you celebrate Christmas, whether that’s more of a sacred or more of a secular Christmas, we will have something for you.”

It all takes place at the Music Center at Strathmore and Kennedy Center Concert Hall.

“The Kennedy Center is just one of our nation’s treasures,” Rogers said. “There’s no better historic hall, so we are just honored to be a part of that long tradition … then the Music Center at Strathmore has become one of my favorites because it’s so beautifully decorated. It’s a modern hall with various lighting opportunities inside and outside.”

The entire concert runs 75 minutes with no intermission.

“You can come in, get a bit of Christmas for 75 minutes roughly, then obviously go home and be with your family,” Rogers said.

If you can’t make the shows, you can stream last year’s Strathmore performance.

“We’re also offering last year’s concert On Demand for those who don’t quite feel comfortable coming out yet due to COVID-19 and the variants,” Rogers said. “We’re reselling that concert as well for those who still want The Washington Chorus but who are not comfortable coming out to concerts at this time.”

In either form, it’s the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit.

“We’ve had such a hard year and a half as a country and as a world, we all need a bit of beauty,” Rogers said. “I want to encourage people to come out, bring your family and friends, make it a moment, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed by what you’re going to hear and see … we’re chomping at the bit to share this music with the community.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'A Candlelight Christmas' (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up