The University of Redlands Feast of Lights — the annual celebration of the birth of Jesus through spoken word, tableaux, song, and instrumental composition — is a University tradition that, in 2020, will be presented untraditionally.
This year, the event will be presented in a virtual format, featuring a special mix of performances by students, faculty, and alumni, culminating in a grand performance of “Silent Night,” sung by a group of the event’s past participants. The virtual performance will be available for purchase and viewing on Vimeo from December 4 through 31.
“I had a hunch that this year’s feast would be different, but there was never a question as to if it would take place,” says School of Music Professor Nicholle Andrews, who has been directing the event for 12 years. She is the third director in its 73-year history.
Ensuring that community members experience a Feast of Lights, even under unprecedented circumstances, was paramount to many participants, including Peter Tupou, a U of R employee who has been involved in the celebration since 2001.
“Continuing the Feast this year is especially meaningful because of what it means to many feast goers,” says Tupou, who has appeared in the event as one of the three kings for the past eight years. “A single candle shines brightly in the darkness of the Memorial Chapel and that light gives life to other lights, until the emptiness is filled with warmth and music — that symbolizes hope in this difficult time and reminds us that this, too, shall pass.”
A silver lining of this year’s virtual modality, Andrews said, is that people who have previously been unable to travel to the University’s main campus to attend the Feast of Lights in person will be able to witness it, and families can experience the feast throughout the holiday season.
“There are people who have sat in the same seats in the Memorial Chapel for 73 years,” Andrews says. “The Feast is ingrained in the community — not just the University community, but the Inland Empire as a whole. It means so much to all of us that we can continue its legacy in a virtual setting.”