“Christmas at Belmont” is no longer being filmed, and the university has released no statement to record or distribute it in the future.
“I’m disappointed. I’m very disappointed. I wish this was, you know, perhaps shared after the last taping. Or, saying that OK we’ll do it this year, but we need to revisit future years,” said Jeffery Ames, director of Chorale, who has been leading the performance for the last 16 years.
“Christmas at Belmont” has been filmed every other year with performances available on the Public Broadcasting Service website as far back as 2013.
“For me, over the years, it’s just been wonderful to have colleagues and people I don’t even know around the country send me an email and say: ‘Hey, “Christmas at Belmont” was great, we saw it on PBS.’ You know, that will be missed,” said Ames.
Music students were told by their teachers on the first day of classes, said freshman Anna Wiggins, a member of the Bel Canto choir.
Students from both vocal and instrumental sides of the musical program are involved in the program. The College of Music & Performing Arts has a page of its website dedicated to the performance.
“It was pretty much an advertisement for their music program,” said Wiggins.
But broadcasting the performance didn’t come without drawbacks.
“It cost a great deal of money. That’s one of the things and what we’ve found is not many people turn on their TV sets to find stuff anymore. They’re looking for things that are streaming, and that’s a concept that is new but maybe here to stay,” said Deen Entsminger, director of the Chamber Singers.
Belmont has not announced to the student body or the public the official reason for “Christmas at Belmont” no longer being filmed.
“We have had instances where post production had to be done within a week, within seven days time, before it had to be shipped to PBS,” said Ames. “It’s stressful, it’s time consuming, it’s joyous, it’s exciting, it’s tiring. It’s a labor of love.”
Preparing for filming required long hours of rehearsal for all the performers.
“It’s usually at the end of the semester. So, there’s just the added stress of preparing, getting ready for the last days of class and exams. It is a lot fun, but I don’t think it ever feels like a chore,” said Ames.
The last televised performance was in 2021 and has` been broadcast on PBS for the last two years.
“When it’s taped, which it isn’t going to be for a while, it’s a little more confounding because we’ve got to spend more time in the space,” said Entsminger. “So, the rehearsals tend to be tedious and long.”
“We went through a period of time where it was Christmas at the Schermerhorn, it wasn’t at Belmont. We were put on buses, driven over there, we had to stay there from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. That was a chore, but still sweet to be in the Schermerhorn,” said Entsminger.
Though the future of “Christmas at Belmont” on television is uncertain, the performance will continue to represent the skilled musicians of Belmont.
“I will be happy when a solution, or a couple of solutions, arise to get “Christmas at Belmont” back on television. Because there’s not another school like us who’s doing this,” said Ames.
This article was written by Sunny Urben