The Candlelight Processional has become a holiday tradition at Walt Disney World. A revolving cast of celebrity narrators share the story of Christ at Epcot’s American Garden Theatre, backed by a full orchestra, mass choir, fanfare trumpets and a “living Christmas tree.”
Freddie Green, assistant professor of music at Missouri Southern, has lent his skills on the trumpet to the annual celebration for more than 10 years. He has a series of dates scheduled to perform at the show this month.
“During my college years, I had an opportunity to audition for their winter All-Star Band and I did that starting in 2002,” says Green. “In 2006, I did a professional audition for the Candlelight Processional and was accepted to start performing with the Walt Disney World Orchestra.”
The script is based on the Book of Luke. Celebrity narrators who have appeared during Green’s performances include Whoopi Goldberg, Neil Patrick Harris and, most recently, Ming-Na Wen.
Green is set to perform on Dec. 13-15, 20-22, 27-28 and 30. Three shows a day are performed at the outdoor amphitheater. The guest narrator lineup for those shows include Gary Sinise, Geena Davis, Marlee Matlin and Lisa Ling.
“It’s a wonderful show,” he said. “Every night is a packed house and I get to play with world-class musicians on an international stage. It keeps me tapped into the current state of the industry, and gives a good experience to bring back to my students.”
Green has been playing the trumpet since he was 10 years old and came across the instrument in his dad’s closet.
“I asked him if I could try it,” he says. “I could make a sound and then I learned to play an octave and stuck with it.”
Making music his career wasn’t initially the plan, however. He was interested in becoming a marine biology major and hoped to one day work with the Navy doing dolphin research.
“But I ended up at a different school with a full scholarship for music,” Green says.
During his career he has served as the director of bands at Faith Christian Academy in Orlando, performed on the first national tour of the musical “Chicago” in China, and with jazz legend Sam Rivers’ band.
As part of the Walt Disney World Orchestra, Green has performed as part of shows celebrating the music from “Frozen,” “The Lion King” and the Pixar animated films.
“It provides some challenges,” Green says of balancing his teaching schedule with professional performing. “But it’s really nice to be supported while remaining active in scholarly and creative activities.”