First performed at Ovens Auditorium in 1956, the Singing Christmas Tree is one of Charlotte’s longest running holiday traditions. The original tree platform was custom built for the Charlotte Choral Society (now Carolina Voices) by the Southern Engineering Company. The original 2 ½-ton portable steel structure was designed to hold 75 singers and remained in use until 2004. Today, the performance is held at Knight Theater in Uptown.
A few behind the scenes secrets about the tradition:
- The tree structure stands close to 32 ft tall and holds up to 100 singers. It takes up to a day and a half to assemble and decorate the Tree and a crew of 12-15 to put it together.
- The Tree is high and hot, hot, hot. The height can be daunting and some singers request to be placed on the lower level branches. It can also get warm on the Tree from the stage lights, so many singers opt for shorts under their colorful “Tree” bibs regardless of how cold it is outside. Smelling salts are placed strategically throughout the structure in case the height gets to any of the singers. Described by the Charlotte Symphony, "Just imagine Knight Theater decked with holiday cheer. Your Charlotte Symphony takes the stage with a massive 32-foot tall tree filled with live, singing "ornaments." Add in cheerful sing-alongs, all your favorite holiday music, falling snow, and a visit from the jolly man himself, and you've got...the most memorable event of the holiday season."
- New Angels and St. Nicks are selected every year. Each year there’s an Angel and St. Nick chosen from the MainStage Choir. These are two singers who have gone above and beyond with the giving of their time and energy to Carolina Voices. Audience members can spot the Angel at the top of the Singing Christmas Tree in her “angel wings” and the St. Nick in his “Santa hat” somewhere in the branches.
If you're not in the holiday spirit yet, get your dose of nostalgic Charlotte history and holiday cheer all at the same time, by checking out one of the shows! For tickets, click here.
Until next week!
Email me at email@example.com if you have interesting Charlotte facts you’d like to share or just to provide feedback!
Information taken from:
UNC Charlotte Special Collections on Instagram: @unccspeccoll
Charlotte Five - "Five Things You Didn't Know About the Singing Christmas Tree," by Joanne Spataro, November 2016.
“We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” – Frederick Douglass