Faculty, students and alumni gathered in Massey Concert Hall on Saturday night to watch the annual Christmas at Belmont performance to kick off the holiday season.
Every other year, Christmas at Belmont is filmed and airs on PBS, but this year was not a filming year for the event.
Opening the night with “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” Jazzmin sang with sweet harmonies as snowflakes were projected on the side walls. Its jazzy sound set a warm and comfortable mood, and the piano solo added to the ambiance.
Other classics sang included Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” and “The First Noel.” Influenced from a Michael Bublé easy-listening style, Company transported the audience to the 50s with hip bobbing, swaying and snapping. The choreography was heavy on the cheese with guys and girls partnering but nonetheless upbeat.
In a stripped-down arrangement led with a single piano, the Women’s Choir sang the “First Noel” like an angelic lullaby, that faded out to end the heavenly choir.
The instrumental section each had its own moment to perform.
The concert highlighted the orchestra in “Little Drummer Boy” with several key changes leading up to a thrilling climax and in “Sleigh Ride” with perfection down to the sound of the horse hoof. The small string ensemble also played “Vivace.”
The jazz band brought out the horn section and drums to “Let It Snow” and had audience members moving their heads back and forth.
The crowd responded positively to the percussion’s fast-tempo solos in “This Child” as it played “For Unto Us A Child Is Born” and “What Child Is This?” behind the telling of the Christmas story.
The percussion was also highlighted when Christmas at Belmont ventured into a more unexpected piece, “Betelehemu,” a Nigerian carol. The men in the choir repeated a deep and thunderous “Betelehemu” while the women sang the melody in Nigerian. The mass choir sidestepped, swayed and clapped in unity to the beat of the bongos, shakers, tambourines and jambes. Performers mimicked the sounds of animals with their voices.
With the spiritual “Go Where I Send Thee,” the sounds of the dobro took a more soulful, bluesy approach.
Christmas at Belmont did not fail to include all genres with the Session’s sassy “Santa Baby” that concluded with a comical Santa choosing one of the singers, Phoenix’s 90s keyboard and soulful singing inspired “Who Would Imagine A King” and a bluegrass ensemble’s twangy and warm “Bluegrass and White Snow.”
Other notable acts included the choral of “Sing We Now of Christmas” with the word “sing” sprinkled throughout, “Ave Maria” with choppy harmonies and there “There Is No Rose Of Such Virtue” with an acapella performance that could’ve come straight out of a cathedral.
Not only were Belmont students and faculty participating in the event, but the Nashville Children’s Choir was featured in its performance of “Good King Wenceslas.” The children had a chilling but beautiful sound.
The night even had interactive elements by allowing the crowd to join in on “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” “Angels We Have Heard On High” and “We Three Kings.”
The audience gave Christmas at Belmont a standing ovation. To watch the 2013 performance, tune in to PBS during the month of December.
This article was written by Brooklyn Penn.