Monday, December 3, 2012

Cast Members keep Disney's Candlelight sounding great

Cast Members keep Disney's Candlelight sounding great by Mark Eades

Members of the Disney Employee Choir form the "Living Christmas Tree" during the dress rehearsal of Disneyland's Candlelight Ceremony.

 "Living Christmas Tree" that is the centerpiece of Disneyland's Candlelight Ceremony, you might recognize some of the singers as someone who might have been your Jungle Cruise skipper. That's because the tree is made up entirely of members of the Disney Employee Choir, and has been so since 1982.
"In September, when we start practicing, I get into the Christmas spirit and it's a wonderful thing," said Vinnie D'Amore, a tenor who works on the technology of Disney's Feature Animation group.

The choir was formed in 1972, when several Disneyland employees expressed a desire to perform in the ceremony, which traces its roots to the first Christmas at Disneyland. Originally, the massive more than 600-voice choir was made up from several local high schools, colleges and other local choirs.
"The cast choir provides a stable choral sound as well as exemplary commitment to the show," said Nancy Sulahian, the show's conductor.

Employees from Disney's West Coast operations go through an audition process. Once selected, they attend at least six regional rehearsals as well as a full rehearsal with all 390 volunteer singers from throughout the company. Finally, the group sings at a dress rehearsal, which took place Thursday night.

The sopranos, altos, tenors and basses find different songs hardest to sing.

"The song I thought was toughest to learn was 'Sing Noel," said Kathy Rossi, a soprano and 33-year employee who has been in the choir that entire time.

Imagineer and bass singer Omar Fuentes finds "The Hallelujah Chorus" the hardest.

"We have to make sure we come in at the right time along with the other parts and make it sound seamlessly together as one," he said.

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