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Heralding the holidays: Staples' Candlelight Concerts a 'sound' Westport tradition

For the 73rd year, the Staples High School Music Department unwrapped a holiday gift for the community.

The first of this year's Candlelight Concerts on Friday night featured approximately 300 students in a holiday performance that included bands, orchestra and various choral groups.

"It's a 73-year tradition in the community, so that alone makes it special," said David Winer, supervisor of music for Westport schools.

In the Staples lobby before the performance, he said he felt the emotion of continuing the lengthy town tradition. "I've been greeting generations of people who've been coming to these concerts," he said.

"We're going to be great," Adele Valovich, conductor for the Staples Symphonic Orchestra, said before the show. "I just hope the weather cooperates for the other two shows," planned for 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday. A snowstorm, however, was in the forecast.

"I'm a little nervous," said Helena Giaume, a junior who plays cello, "but I think we'll do great because we've been practicing for so long (and) we're pretty prepared."

"When you're playing a concert, you're always nervous," said Karsten Guo, a junior who plays violin, "but I think we practiced enough for me to calm down."

For many of the seniors, this year's Candlelight Concert represent the end of an era.

"It's kind of sentimental," said Maddy Rozynek, a senior in the A Cappella Choir.

"It's bittersweet," echoed senior Cara McNiff.

Jarret Liotta