Singing Christmas Tree returns

Free concert is in its 30th year

Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2002

The concert features a custom stage, dancers, drama, soundtrack orchestration and video. It's not Broadway - it's the singing Christmas tree.

This weekend the Juneau Christian Center celebrates the 30th anniversary of the singing Christmas tree, the church's annual holiday concert, called "When Love CameDown" this year. The program will be presented in four free concerts at 7 p.m. Friday through Monday, Dec. 13 through 17, in the sanctuary at the Juneau Christian Center, 8001 Glacier Highway.

Special risers put singers 20 feet off the floor and elaborate lighting enhances the effect of a giant decorated Christmas tree, complete with a 43-person choir.

"It looks like a Christmas tree with people in," said the Rev. Mike Rose of the Juneau Christian Center. "There are thousands and thousands of lights. When the lights come on you hear people gasp. It's beautiful."

A stage is set up in front and dancers will perform as well as singers. Video screens are in place near the stage and camera operators capture different scenes throughout the performance. Concert stage lighting changes with each song.

"There's a lot happening," Rose said. "It definitely is entertaining. We have some really good dancers."

The production involves dramatic elements and actors will portray the nativity. Pastor Rose and his wife, Deenie, will serve as narrators. Rose said he has narrated for the event for 15 of the past 16 years he has been in Juneau.

Music director Honey Bee Anderson said some songs include the entire choir and others feature subsets - quartets, duos, trios and a children's choir.

"The theme ties it all together and it all flows in one seamless cantata," she said.

The theme is also the title of one of the songs, "When Love Came Down." The concert includes familiar traditional carols and songs. Prerecorded soundtrack orchestration will accompany the singers.

Rose said Anderson's mother-in-law, who passed away a few years ago, started the first singing Christmas tree program in Juneau 30 years ago. At that time, the Juneau Christian Center was known as the Bethel Assembly of God.

"She that directed the first event," Anderson said. "She'd seen one in Anchorage and she wanted to bring it down to Juneau."

Rose said the event has been continually enhanced and upgraded over the years. Anderson said the choir offers new music as well.

The event starts at 7 each night. Rose said the first few minutes of the concert are pre-Christmas tree songs, to make sure everyone has arrived and found a seat.

"Once the tree (is lit) it's totally dark in there and we want to be sure everyone is in place," he said.

The concert is free, but tickets are issued to help organizers keep track of the size of the audience. The sanctuary, which converts into a gymnasium, seats about 350. Tickets are available at the Juneau Christian Center and Northern Echoes Bible Shop.

The show lasts 60 to 90 minutes.

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