One of Edmonton’s most celebrated attractions of the holiday season is reborn this weekend as the 44th annual Singing Christmas Tree returns bigger and better than ever.
Operating under the umbrella of the Edmonton Singing Christmas Tree Foundation, it has raised half a million dollars for charities such as Santas Anonymous, Edmonton Food Bank and Edmonton Public Schools Foundation.
Every year it draws thousands of people to its five performances at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium.
This year’s show runs December 19 to 22 mixing music, carols, short sketches, ballet and dancing Santas.
Executive producer John Cameron revamped the once spiritual carol sing into a Broadway-scale, Las Vegas-style production.
“It’s a different show. We are bringing in more local artists and bigger artists. As a result of making it a bigger production, we’ve made an impact on people’s lives and the impact on the community is profound,” said communications director Julianna Veldtman.
The centrepiece of this elaborate confection is a 10.5-metre high floor to ceiling tree dressed with tens of thousands of electronically controlled twinkling lights.
Made up of 130 volunteer carol singers plus a backup orchestra and more singers and dancers of all ages, it is a spectacle that once seen is never forgotten.
Returning after last year’s successful debut is Mark Masri, known for his original song The Face, which debuted at #4 on the R&B U.S. Billboard charts and remained on the Top 20 for six weeks.
Making her first appearance is Sophie Serafina, a violinist, singer and composer who moved to Canada from Australia.
“She’s a bold performer. She’s animated and moves around. She twirls the violin and sings as well,” Veldtman stated.
Citie Ballet returns for another stunning pas de deux while voices from the Edmonton Opera Chorus join to add power and vibrancy to the evening.
St. Albert tenor Donovan Weihmann will have a moment in the spotlight in a special tribute to Kristen Fersovitch. The young mother and singer died of cancer in October. But she wrote the song Christmas Time that will be performed by a five-piece ensemble.
“It’s a small intimate thing around the piano. It’s going to be tough to do. We were close and she was such a strong woman. But we are all honoured to be with her,” he noted.
Andrea Willson, a substitute teacher for St. Albert Public and Sturgeon school districts, who sings in an ensemble, also pays her own salute to Fersovitch.
“Last year Kristen did an amazing job of showing us how important life is. Through the accident I had, I’ve learned so much more about appreciating each day,” Willson said.
Willson is referring to a late-night vehicle accident this summer when she was hit by a van driving in the wrong lane. It caused a rollover. When she came to, Willson was upside down and covered in blood from a 10-inch cut to the side of her head.
“All I could think of was how lucky I am. It made me appreciate things a bit more and put things in perspective.”
As a singer, Willson is re-energized simply by working with this group of motivating artists.
“It’s really a show for everybody to see. It will inspire you and put you in a Christmas mood. And it’s for a good cause.”
Edmonton Singing Christmas Tree<br />Dec. 19 to 22<br />Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium<br />11455 – 87 Ave.<br />Tickets: $35 to $75 Call 1-855-985-5000 or go online to: www.ticketmaster.ca