By ROSIE GITHINJI
MT. VERNON —
Months of practice, the construction of a 10,000 pound tree, 65 choir members and 22 orchestras members will all culminate tonight for the annual living Christmas tree program at Park Avenue Baptist Church.
Music Minister Bill Hogue said the tree was erected on Nov. 5 and was donated to the church by Dorrisville Baptist Church in Harrisburg when an interest was expressed in doing the program.
“It’s a tremendous amount of work,” Hogue said. “A lot of man hours are involved.”
The tree has close to 4,000 lights on it and stands at 26 1/2 feet tall and 24 feet wide. It can hold up to 100 people and Hogue said both the tree and the program holds an appeal to people of all age groups.
“The young kids are fascinated by the lights, by the whole process. There [are] a lot of things to hold their attention,” he said, adding that the appeal goes up to senior citizens, who probably enjoy the live music most. “They are all kids at heart, so they can enjoy the lights as well.”
The live orchestra and choir is also a fascination for the audience, Hogue said.
“That has another appeal to it because you get to interact with the musicians,” he explained. “Very few churches have choirs anymore.”
The program offers a wide scope of musical styles, both choral and orchestral. There will be traditional Christmas music and traditional anthems woven into the Christmas motif that will cover songs from contemporary composers all the way back to baroque composers like Johann Sebastian Bach, according to Hogue.
“We will open with an orchestral piece — a Canadian brass arrangement for the orchestra,” he said. “We will follow that with a generalized music medley of Christmas songs. The congregation can sing along if they like.”
The program will last for about an hour and a half, Hogue said. The seating is usually at a premium, as well as parking, so Hogue suggest carpooling if possible.
“Be prepared,” he added. “The tree gets hot, so we try to keep the auditorium cool. I would advise people to wear layers.”
The program will begin at 7 p.m. and the doors will open at 6 p.m. There will be an additional performance Sunday night at the same time.