Disneyland Candlelight Processional
Every year since 1958, Disneyland has invited church members and school choirs audition and participate in the Candlelight Procession and Ceremony. The two day event takes place at Disneyland on the first weekend in December with evening shows at 5:30 and 8:00.
The Candlelight production starts with an audition of your choir in September where you submit a recent recording of your singing group and a recording of an arrangement selected by Disney. The arrangement is in four parts to demonstrate the capabilities of your Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass (SATB) choir. Many groups which submit tapes are easily weeded out by not meeting the basic SATB requirements.
Audition tapes are due in the first week of October and Disney will notify your choir if it was selected to celebrate the holiday season at the Disneyland Park within a week or two after.
Once selected, the real work begins at memorizing your part. You have about 6 weeks to memorize eleven arrangements:
1. Sing Praise to Him, Our Lord (arr. Jim Christensen)
2. The First Noel (arr. Don Neufeld, Azusa Pacific University)
3. Candlelight Carol (arr. John Rutter)
4. He is Born (arr. Roger Wagner)
5. Angles We Have Heard on High (arr Eskew/Healey)
6. What Child is This (arr. Ken Whitcomb)
7. Wee Three Kings (arr. Eskew/Healey)
8. Sing Noel (arr. Brent Pierce)
9. Joy to the World (arr. Bob Krogstadt)
10. Peace, Peace, (Silent Night) (arr. Fred Bock)
11. Hallelujah Chorus (Handle's Messiah)
You are also required to memorize the processional music where you sing carols through Disneyland walking from Storybook Land to the Main Street Railroad Station at the park entrance. There are only four to remember where you will repeat singing over about five times during the 20 minute walk:
1. O Little Town of Bethlehem (in G unison)
2. The First Noel (in D, unison)
3. Hark the Herald Angels Sing (in F, unison)
4. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. (in B-Flat, unison)
About a week or two before the performance, there will be several regional rehearsals where you will get to rehearse with about one-half choir members. The rehearsal usually takes place at a high school or church large enough to accommodate the number of members.
During the day of the performance, you will meet in the rehearsal area in the back lot of Disneyland around noon. It will be a long day so you may want to stay at a hotel nearby Disneyland. There will be one voice rehearsal and one rehearsal with the Narrator and Orchestra. You will be singing four times during the day so go easy during the rehearsals and try not to strain your voice.
After rehearsal, you have a lunch break where Disney will provide the lunches (which you purchase). After lunch you are given instructions on how to line up and how to enter the risers at Main Street. About 4:30 you line up for the first show and start walking towards Storybook Land around 5:00. Around 20 minutes before Candlelight begins, you start the Processional singing the four carols over and over and even while the choir moves into the risers.
Once everyone is in place, the 45 minute show starts right with Sing Praise to Him, Our Lord and then concludes with the Hallelujah Chorus. During the show, it is very important to watch the conductor at all times. There is a delay in the sound system and you will be off a beat if you don’t pay attention to the down beats.
You may want to wear a sweatshirt underneath your choir robe to keep you warm during the cool evening. The stage lights will keep your head and shoulders warm but you need to dress accordingly depending on the weather that day.
After the show concludes, the choirs are escorted to the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Auditorium where you have about an hour break between shows. Take time to relax and use the restrooms since you will have to line up for the second show around 7:30. This time the processional starts at the end of Main Street with only about 10 minutes of caroling.
The second show is nearly identical to the first except when you exit the stage, you exit the park. You hand in your candle and collar where you are given a re-admittance for the remainder of the park opening (about 3 hours).
Besides enjoying being a Disneyland Cast Member for the day, you get the challenge of being a professional singer where you are paid with free two park hopper tickets. But the real reason for participating in the Disneyland Candlelight Processional is to share the Holiday Spirit with thousands of Disneyland Guests who truly enjoy the show!
Disneyland announced that this holiday season, Candlelight will run from December 1 to December 20, 2012 with two performances each night. The first two days are invitation only events, i.e. preferred seating. December 3 - 20 are open to Annual passport holders and guest booking dining packages. This means that your Choir has a very good chance to get selected this year for Candlelight (with priority to Choirs that participated in previous years).
But are you ready for Candlelight 2012? You need to start recording those auditions and submit them to Disney by October if you want your choir to sing this year. Leave a note below and let me know what you recorded and if you were selected.