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Performers audition for Singing Christmas Tree production in Charlotte rooted in tradition



CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Less than 150 days until Christmas, the nonprofit Carolina Voices is already warming up for the holidays. Performers are raising their voices for a silver and gold opportunity in the Myers Park neighborhood.

They’re vying for a spot in the Singing Christmas Tree production, one of Charlotte’s longest holiday traditions.

“We are holding auditions for our fall season,” explained Peter Leo, the artistic executive director.

Singers can audition for three different ensembles, including Impromptu and Festival Singers. Many aspire for a December to remember.

“And then we have our 68-year-old Singing Christmas Tree production… and so we’ll be auditioning for the MainStage Choir.”

The festive production features dozens of singers on a 32-foot tall steel tree. Leo says after nearly seven decades, it’s rooted in tradition. It’s not too, Carolina Voices auditions more singers on August 6th.  They encourage a lot more men to audition (auditionees must pre-register online.)

“Well, we’re the oldest Singing Christmas Tree production in the country and so we’re awfully proud of that,” he told Queen City News.

“To be able to be part of something like that would be super cool,” says Sarah Brock, who auditioned last week. Brock belted the hymn “In as well with my soul” in her audition.

Leo’s listening closely.  

“Confidence of voice… and an ability to have some measure of charisma in their performance,” he said, summing up what he’s looking for.

“You don’t need to be nervous because it’s all easy, you’ve got this!” Leo told Bernadette MacLeod, who’s a theater teacher at East Mecklenburg High.

“Is there a better musical theater name than Bernadette?” Leo asked.

MacLeod hasn’t auditioned for anything in some 20 years, but she’s out to prove there’s no time like he present.

“I just really miss singing with a group of people,” she says.

“Very, very, very nervous!” MacLeod said after the audition.

Jonathon Schoenholz chose too “Too Good at Goodbyes” by Sam Smith for his audition. To him, music is an escape.

“So definitely with anxiety and what not, it definitely helps to sing because it definitely mellows me out whenever I just can’t deal with emotions and what not,” said Schoenholz.

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Auditionees gave us insight into the process that’s as much personal as it is musical.

MacLeod believes it’s a lesson for her students.

“You’re never too old to try new things and you should always take a risk,” she says.

Jonathon’s audition was especially strong.  

“I’m telling you now… I’d like to have you I the group,” Leo told Schoenholz.

Let’s just say his face lit up like a Christmas tree.

“Thank you!” he replied, proud to be part of a time-honored tradition.

“Thank you buddy, good job!” Leo said, shaking his hand.

“I mean I think I did pretty well, ha ha!” Schoenholz said post-audition.

Hard to believe that in just four months, a new generation helps give voice to a riveting Christmas ritual.

Click here to watch last year’s Singing Christmas Tree performance.

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