80th Belhaven Singing Christmas Tree

November 8, 2012 (Jackson) - Belhaven’s Singing Christmas Tree began in 1933 and is considered the first and oldest outdoor singing Christmas tree event in the country. It was named one of the top 20 events in the Southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society, and it continually draws in thousands of people each year.

This year will mark the 80th anniversary of the tree and to celebrate its long history, a special reunion choir (see details below) of past Belhaven Christmas tree singers will join students for this years’ performance.

Both concerts on November 30 and December 1 will take place on the Belhaven University Athletic Bowl in the center of campus at 7:30 p.m. This family-friendly event is free to the public, and attendees are encouraged to dress in warm clothes and bring blankets or chairs to sit on. Call 601-974-6494 for more information.

Dr. Christopher Shelt, Professor of Voice, Church Music & Choral Activities said, “This year's 80th anniversary is a very significant milestone in Belhaven's history and will host the largest group of singers on the tree that we have ever seen. Also, the Reunion Choir singers and the O Holy Night Soloists will make these performances extra special. It will be a wonderful celebration you will not want to miss.”

The annual event started as an idea in by choral director and music professor, Mignonne Howell Caldwell, who wanted to share the concert with others in the community. Caldwell moved the concert outside in 1927 between Preston and Fitzhugh Halls. She then recruited college engineer, Mr. C. V. McLain, to construct the first wooden tree frame for the choir to stand on in 1933. After the success of the first performance, the Belhaven Singing Christmas Tree became a yearly tradition.

Today, a new 35-foot tall wood and metal tree structure holds up to 100 men and women singers. Christmas tree singers hold large strands of LED lights, which change colors in various patterns and sequences according to the character of each Christmas carol, creating a visual spectacle for the listeners.

Have you ever participated in the Belhaven University Singing Christmas Tree? If so, this is an open invitation for you. Dr. Shelt needs all past Singing Christmas Tree and “O Holy Night” singers to join the Reunion Choir and make this year’s performance extra special.

Please let Dr. Shelt know if you want to participate as soon as possible at singingchristmastree@belhaven.edu or call him at 601-974-6497. If you choose to participate you will be sent music and MP3 files of the Celebration Choir parts well in advance of the event.


For more breaking news, announcements, and upcoming events, visit the Belhaven University News and Information web site

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