February 22, 2011

A Bucknell Candlelight Christmas

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By Heather Johns

LEWISBURG, Pa. — A potential 176 million people viewed "A Bucknell Candlelight Christmas" on nearly 60 percent of all PBS stations, including in most of the country's largest television markets, according to nation-wide station reports.

"A Bucknell Candlelight Christmas" was recorded in high definition in December 2009 and produced by WVIA-TV, the PBS affiliate that serves northeastern and central Pennsylvania. Bucknell University alumni and friends across the country contacted their local PBS stations to request that they air the program during the 2010 holiday season.

"We believe the success of the program was due in large part to those alumni who contacted their local PBS stations," said Pam Keiser, interim executive director of alumni relations and the Career Development Center. "This is yet another example of Bucknell being an engaged and supportive community."

"A Bucknell Candlelight Christmas" was broadcast in all time zones and in 64 percent of the top 25 markets in the country. It aired in primetime in most major cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Tampa.

"Not in our most ambitious vision did we imagine so many PBS stations across America would carry it," said Bill Kelly, president and CEO of WVIA.

A DVD/CD package of the broadcast is available online and at the Barnes & Noble at Bucknell University bookstore.

A Bucknell holiday tradition
"A Bucknell Candlelight Christmas" highlights the uplifting power of music as performed by Bucknell's internationally renowned undergraduate musical ensembles, the Rooke Chapel Choir and Rooke Chapel Ringers, under the direction of Professor of Music William Payn. Adapted from A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols of King's College, Cambridge, the service takes place in Rooke Chapel.

This interdenominational service features biblical readings and traditional carols for choir and congregation, including "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," "Joy to the World" and "Stille Nacht (Silent Night)." The program, which runs one hour, opens with the traditional candlelight procession and concludes with the ringing-in of Christmas.

Previous recordings of the service were nominated for Emmy Awards in 1996 and 2004.

"A Bucknell Candlelight Christmas" was established in 1964 by the late William McRae, founder of the Rooke Chapel Choir and Bucknell professor emeritus of music. Rooke Chapel was dedicated the same year as the gift of the late Robert L. Rooke, Class of '13 and a member of the University's Board of Trustees. Approximately 850 people can be seated in the sanctuary and balconies, which look onto the chapel's three-manual Reuter organ, one of the largest in central Pennsylvania.

The student performers represent most of the major fields of study at Bucknell, including the humanities, social and natural sciences, business administration and education, and engineering. More than two-thirds of the performers are from fields of study other than music.

Contact: Division of Communications


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