Alumni Profile | Dr. Candace Wicke (’83)
A music career that began in her hometown of Springfield, Missouri, has since taken 1983 Evangel alumna Candace (Peterson) Wicke around the country and the world, giving her the opportunity to perform and conduct in venues such Carnegie Hall and, for the first time next year, the Sistine Chapel.
Wicke is the president and principle conductor of The Continuo Arts Foundation, a charitable organization based in New Jersey that sponsors music education and performances both locally and internationally.
A Springfield native, Wicke grew up around Evangel’s campus. Her father, former Evangel Music Department chairperson Jesse Peterson, was one of the main influences behind Wicke’s desire to pursue music as a career. After she graduated high school, Wicke says Evangel was the natural choice for a college because of her family connections and the reputation of the Music Department.
During her time at Evangel, Wicke became involved in a number of music-related activities, such as band, Concert Choir, musicals, a student-led music and drama group and Harvest Fest performances. Wicke says the instruction she received from Evangel not only helped her establish her career, but also helped her in the non-musical aspects of life.
“It was at Evangel that I also began to look at ‘ministry’ with a broader perspective,” she says, “[I learned] that ministry was not only pastoral – in churches and as missionaries – but that we are all God’s chosen ministers to whatever world is opened up for us.”
After graduating in 1983 with a degree in Music Education, Wicke took a job teaching music and band at Skyline School in Urbana, Missouri. She soon moved to Florida to teach band, marching band and chorus in the Gainesville area and began attending graduate school at the University of Miami, where she earned her master’s and doctorate in Conducting. While completing her degrees, she became the chair of Fine Arts at Our Lady of Lourdes Academy in Miami.
In 2004, Wicke accepted a position in Manhattan at MidAmerica Productions as conductor-in-residence in Carnegie Hall. It was during this time that her inspiration for the Continuo Arts Foundation was born.
“I was getting many outside conducting opportunities and invitations and wanted to find a way to include others as well,” she says. “These are the thoughts that germinated the notion for me, and it has grown beyond anything that even I could have imagined.”
Wicke began the process of getting the organization off the ground, an undertaking that involved several applications and paperwork.
“I learned very quickly to take off my artist hat and put on my business hat,” Wicke says. “There is some real truth to the saying ‘ignorance is bliss,’ and it is probably a good thing that I just jumped right into the thick of things.”
Today, nearly seven years later, Wicke says God has never ceased to be with her in this undertaking, which she says has been a huge blessing.
“Continuo has been the most rewarding, challenging and faith-building experience of my life,” she says. “The artistic opportunities Continuo has afforded me personally are things that again, I could have never imagined. When I’m sitting in dress rehearsal with the Vienna Philharmonic, conducting the Prague Philharmonic, walking on stage at Carnegie Hall or listening to solo auditions from our Children’s Choir, the blessings are monumental; and so profound that it is difficult to put into words.”
Wicke has also recorded several pieces, beginning with joint projects with her father. As her career has developed, she has recorded several large-scale choral and orchestral compositions, mostly from 21st century composers. She has conducted recordings with the Continuo Arts Symphonic Chorus, the Continuo Arts Orchestra and the Prague Philharmonic.
Next year, Wicke will have the opportunity to conduct the first American ensemble performance in the Sistine Chapel. She says the opportunity to perform in this “Holy Grail” of venues came about through contact with another nonprofit organization in Rome.
“When they first called, I thought they were asking if I wanted to attend a concert in the Sistina,” she says. “When I finally realized they were inviting me to conduct a concert not a moment passed before I said, ‘Yes!’”
Wicke and her husband, Craig, have been married since 1992. They have two teenage boys who are heavily involved in music and sports. In their free time, they enjoy camping and going to New York City for shows and concerts.
Wicke says that her advice to students is to take advantage of all that the college experience has to offer.
“Enjoy every moment, get involved in things you haven’t done previously, embrace the traditions then add to them yourself,” she says. “Develop your relationship with God-no matter what your chosen field is, this is want will sustain you, lead you and bring you to a future you never thought possible.”