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Candlelight Concert at Kingswood Oxford in West Hartford Creates Holiday Spirit

Ellie Bavier of West Hartford. Photo credit: David Newman

Kingswood Oxford musical groups held a Candlelight Concert, setting the tone for the upcoming holiday season.

Richard Chiarappa conducts the orchestra at the KO Candlelight Concert. Photo credit; David Newman

Richard Chiarappa conducts the orchestra at the KO Candlelight Concert. Photo credit; David Newman

Submitted by Jackie Pisani, Kingswood Oxford School

On Sunday, Dec. 4, in one of the most inspired evenings of the year, Kingswood Oxford celebrated the onset of the holiday season with its annual Candlelight Concert.

Held in Alumni Hall, the iconic school landmark building festooned with candelabras and poinsettias, the enormously affecting production featured an array of music from the transcendent to the jubilant. The program, starting with David Marottolo ’18 of Wethersfield, on the newly restored organ last played two decades ago, showed the deep talent of the school’s middle school and upper school students.

Rich Chiarappa, KO’s conductor as well as the West Hartford Symphony’s conductor, directed the Middle School String Orchestra in three pieces including the lively March of the Meistersingers by Wagner and Chiarappa’s own composition Tuesday Afternoon March. Chiarappa noted that the current Middle School orchestra is the largest assemblage that he has conducted over his years at KO.

Ellie Bavier of West Hartford. Photo credit: David Newman

Ellie Bavier of West Hartford. Photo credit: David Newman

The Upper School Orchestra, also conducted by Chiarappa, displayed remarkable dexterity, with constantly shifting emotional states in their selections. Mozart’s crowd pleasing Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and Rossini’s William Tell roused the audience while Schubert’s Rosamunde charmed it. The highlight, Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor, featured the exquisite playing of Ellie Bavier ’18 of West Hartford and Prithvi Gunturu ’18 of South Windsor who expressed musical dynamism far beyond their years.

As the orchestra explored tremendous variety, so too, did the various choral ensembles during the evening. Voce Novissima, the all-female choir directed by KO’s new choral director, Steven Mitchell, sang an affecting piece by local Connecticut composer, Amy Bernon, entitled She Sings. The group also covered an extraordinarily difficult work with four-part harmony, No Time, with the powerfully heartfelt sentiment of the passing of time. Outlook, the select co-ed choir, directed by David Baker brought added eloquence to the evening with Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus as well as an upbeat African Noel with syncopated solo parts. The group was accompanied by Marottolo on the organ.

Bringing the evening to its glorious close was the singing of the two combined choirs directed by Mitchell singing Ose Shalom, the closing of the Kaddish prayer. The singers began the song on stage and processed from Alumni Hall as their voices carried throughout the building. The song’s message is a prayer for peace of earth, which only added to the magic of this magical evening.

KO Candlelight Concert. Photo credit: David Newman

KO Candlelight Concert. Photo credit: David Newman

The preeminent independent co-ed, college preparatory day school in Greater Hartford, Kingswood Oxford School is located just steps from Blue Back Square and West Hartford Center. Its 502 students come from 62 towns in CT and western MA as well as China.

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