All aboard 'The Polar Express'

Boys Choir presents 48th annual Singing Christmas Tree

By Susan Pierce Article posted on Fri. Dec. 3rd, 2010

Combining Robert Kapilow's musical telling of "The Polar Express" with songs from the movie based on the Chris Van Allsburg's children's story, the Chattanooga Boys Choir will entertain its audience with that holiday train theme at its 48th annual Singing Christmas Tree.

The tree is a Chattanooga tradition that showcases the 140 boys in the CBC's five choirs, as well as other local arts organizations. Joining the CBC for two performances in the Tivoli Theatre will be musicians in the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera Youth Orchestra and dancers from Ballet Tennessee.

According to CBC director Vincent Oakes, this will result in more than 200 talented students from Chattanooga and North Georgia performing in Saturday's shows.

Oakes said the first half of the performance will feature traditional boys choir music. Among these pieces will be "Mary Had a Baby," Bach's "Ave Maria" and the gospel spiritual "Go Where I Send Thee."

After intermission, the show is devoted to "The Polar Express."

If You Go

* What: Singing Christmas Tree.

* When: 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

* Where: Tivoli Theatre, 709 Broad St.

* Admission: $10 and up.

* Phone: 634-2299.

" 'The Polar Express' by itself is a 25-minute work we're using that tells the story from the book. It's an original composition for baritone soloist, children's choir and orchestra. Then, we're going to interrupt that telling with several pieces from the movie version that people will be more familiar with,

such as 'Believe' and 'Hot Chocolate,'" said Oakes.

Daniel Varnell, choral director at Knoxville Catholic High School and a former CBC intern choir director, will be the guest baritone soloist.

Oakes said the Tree's admission is worth it just to see the fabulous "Polar Express" backdrop.

"There is a scene outside the young boy's house, then the outside of the train. When they lift away the train's exterior, you'll see the inside of the train with the boys on board," the director said. "Renee Watts was the art director for this, and parents have come out in droves to help make the set a reality."

Gene Wilbourn is the show's producer.

The CBC's new CD, "Celebrations," will be on sale in the Tivoli lobby for $15. Several of the Tree's tracks are included on the new album. All proceeds from sales will help fund the concert choir's summer tour of French Canada.

Contact Susan Pierce at or 423-757-6284.

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