Andrews Academy will host its fiftieth "Feast of Lights" Christmas program at the Pioneer Memorial Church this Friday, December 8, 2023, at 7 pm.
On Friday, Dec. 8, the academy celebrates a program which had been envisioned half a century ago to give back to the community. Through the musical retelling of Christ’s birth, the participants strive to live up to the subtitle on the program, “Honoring God’s Gift to the World.”
During this 50th celebration, several special guests will be recognized. Longtime former Andrews Academy Principal Richard Orrison and his family will be honored, and a taped interview with AA music director, Rosalyn Upshaw, who worked along with Dr. Orrison to create the first “Feast of Lights” will be played.
“Feast of Lights” was first conceived by Orrison in 1972. He had attended another “Feast of Lights” at the University of Redlands in southern California while he was dean at La Sierra University, and he was so impressed by it that he decided to borrow the idea for Andrews Academy.
There have been many small traditions within the larger one; for many years, every student at Andrews Academy sang in the Chapel Choir at Feast of Lights, and a guest alumnus was invited to perform. A more recent addition is the presentation of large scale choral and orchestral works such as Vivaldi’s Gloria and Handel’s Messiah. Some old traditions continue still, such as the live nativity, student-drawn cover artwork for the program (visit Andrews Academy to see a selection of Feast of Lights covers over the years), and, singing the Hallelujah chorus and Silent Night to close the evening.
Several former AA directors from the recent half of the fifty-year tradition are expected to participate. Dean Boward was one of the music teachers that taught at the academy for 20 years, and has been practicing with the band. Byron Graves, Andrews University music instructor, taught at the academy for six years and has been rehearsing with the handbells. Hector Flores taught at AA seven years and has been conducting various rehearsals. Mark Becker taught at the academy for about 10 years. These guest conductors at various times in the program will conduct a few pieces.
Written by Steven Atkins with many excepts from an article that Byron Graves wrote in 2016.