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December 20, 2007

The Singing Christmas tree

I have never actually seen a singing Christmas tree and there's something about the concept I find rather - how shall we say - charming. So every Christmas now I post a photo of a different tree and here is the Central Pentecostal Tabernacle of Edmonton, Canada. The tree stands 35 feet high, is illuminated with 4,785 lights and thousands of pieces of tinsel and fits a choir of 125.

I'm curious about the best way to place the different voice parts when the choir members are vertical rather than at the usual same level. Do the singers at the top of the tree have to direct their voices downward? Anybody out there ever sung in a tree?

Posted by acapnews at December 20, 2007 12:02 AM


My sister's family attends a large Baptist church in Fort Wayne, Indiana that put on a living Christmas tree for many years (and maybe still does). I saw them perform once a long time ago. I suspect any balance problems were solved with microphones.

You had to admire the sheer effort involved, but it was just as cheesy as you would imagine. One remarkable fact was that the honor of the topmost spot was reserved for the same soprano every year--because her name just happened to be "Star." Really.

Posted by: Fredösphere at December 20, 2007 9:14 AM

I have sang in my schools Singing Christmas Tree now for 5 years and to solve the problem of not being able to hear the other people in you section we use amps that play what the audience is hearing back at us so we can hear everyone.

Posted by: Tyger at January 2, 2008 8:20 PM

As a member the Big Apple Chorus,the Barbershop Harmony Society's Manhattan's chapter, we have had the pleasure, for 5 or 6 years consecutively, to perform on an 60' living Christmas tree located, outdoors, in the center of the historic South Street Seaport. Talk about sound and balance issues (let alone the wintery, open harbor breezes and the dizzying height).

Yes, proper micing, good monitors and a savvy sound engineer make the difference. But there is no substitute for having your music down pat and not trying to over compensate and trusting your fellow singers.

At least in our case, the energy we get back from the very large and increadibly appreciative holiday audiences (New Yorkers and tourists alike) fuels the magic of the place and moment against all odds.

Posted by: Neal Siegal at January 16, 2008 1:06 PM

Hi, I was in the Singing Christmas Tree in 1988 and they use microphones hanging from wires. I was in the second row from the top, where the men's bass section is.

Posted by: Trevor Taylor at June 11, 2008 5:02 AM

The music director of the Fort Wayne baptist church mentioned above tragically died in '01 and the church decided to discontinue the tree; the original director has since restarted the Tree as an independent organization (www.lctfortwayne.com)

To solve the balance/mic issues, a recording the singers made was played back on top of the live singing.

Yes the Star was a little over-the-top, but you've got over 100 people standing on several rows of steel, decorated in green needles surrounded by thousands of lights - there's going to be some cheese! Each year's performance was a good communication of the Gospel - the most important thing.

Posted by: SW at March 26, 2009 6:18 AM

I sang in central pentecostals christmas tree in edmonton alberta canada for 3 years we used floating mics to capture the voices of the singers. Top row and 4th row were bass 2nd row tenors 3rd row mix tenors on outer edges baritones in middle 5th row altos 6/7 sopranos and mezzos 8th female bass. Sadly the church was sold and torn down. I haven't heard of the tree till this year being held at edmontons jubilee auditorium

Posted by: eric at November 15, 2009 10:31 AM

I am excited about the tree in Edmonton. I was in the tree as a kid in the children's choir for 7 years. It is now at the Jubilee Auditorium and is not hosted by a church anymore it is individually sponsored. I am so happy to show my 1 year old son. In that picture is Pastor Fisher and Pastor Manny (the director of the tree). My Uncle was the associate pastor at the time.

Posted by: Jennifer at December 2, 2009 1:16 PM

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