Christmas In Charlotte, Unexpected Uptown Magic & The Charlotte Symphony

2013 December 6

The Charlotte Symphony’s ‘Magic of Christmas’ completely surprised me.

charlotte symphony at the Belk john graham

photo credit: John Graham, Charlotte Symphony

I mean how exciting is a Christmas concert going to be, really?

A few classic holiday songs, maybe a guest singer or two and hopefully round it all out by ‘singing along’ to a few favorite yuletide carols. That’s great December entertainment, right?

But no. Oh Ho Ho… NO.

What I expected and what was thrown at me last night, believe me, were two VERY different things! A FULL Chorus backing up the amazing symphony: The Orotorio Singers of Charlotte. Also a Children’s Choir: The Charlotte Children’s Choir. A guest Tuba player, A Tenor, The Loch Norman Bagpipe Band and Caroline Calouche & Co performing on aerial silks and trapeze!

NOT your grandma’s Christmas concert!

CLTSymphony Christmas magic

Instagram photo

I attended the Charlotte Symphony’s 2013 SPX “Magic of Christmas” concert with several other bloggers, courtesy of the Symphony. We called it our own ‘girls night out’ and my two teen daughters joined us. I really wanted to know what the teen set would think of a holiday concert put on by the symphony.

Despite the drizzle and the unexpected reverse rush hour traffic, we were able to meet uptown for a girly dinner at Enso Bistro a few blocks away from the Belk Theater. {Hint: the restaurant gives a discount when you show your Symphony tickets.} We had to rush a bit but we made it to the concert just at the opening song.  Follow along our #CLTSymphony fun with photos and more.


belk theater charlotte arts

Belk Theater photo courtesy

(And if you haven’t seen the inside of the Belk Theater? You’re really missing something. Trust me, FIND A REASON to attend an event there!)


Albert-George Schram LOVES his Job

The Director of the Symphony is SO Fun! He has the happiest smile I’ve ever seen. My friend Beth said of his performance:

“I now know what loving your job looks like! This is the most exciting conductor I have ever seen. BRAVO to you sir.” —Beth Vandewalker

By the end of the concert I was imagining Mr. Schram dressed in a long robe with a white wizard hat and dancing mops and brooms marching down from the stage. He was as entertaining as the music and guests!

Unexpectedly Entertaining

That’s how I would describe the whole evening. UNEXPECTED. Yes a Christmas concert, yes the symphony… but do NOT mistake this for a stodgy event with sleepy classical music.

At one point Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer morphed into a 20s Jazz Rag and when it was over I seriously considered whipping out my Pro-Sports 2-finger Whistle. (Luckily my friends helped keep it inside.)

The best part of the whole experience was not knowing what was coming next. From the children’s chorus moving version of the The Little Drummer Boy to Bagpipes gliding in from the wings playing a traditional Scottish song and finishing with the whole chorus joining in nearly blew me away.

The symphony shed it’s “all is calm” mode and several songs were more like pop music than classical by any stretch.

Magic of Christmas rehearsal by John Graham 1

photo credit: John Graham

And then my brain exploded a little bit when a Caroline Calouche & Co dancer began to pull herself up on to two silks with nothing to hold and nothing holding her. She literally tied herself into knots creating an aerial dance in the sky. I forgot to breathe for several minutes! Breathtaking much? WOW.

I forgot about the symphony over there… until the end of a Silent Night rendition when the sleigh bells started ringing. Oh yeah… where am I again??

The Hallelujah Chorus from Mendel’s Messiah began and we happily stood up and whether it was allowed or not, you better believe we joined our voices to that chorus! I dare you NOT to sing along.

I was so sad when it was all over…

Oh WAIT. No. Just the intermission. HOORAY, there’s still more!!
I was like a little kid at that point. Seriously amazing. And so fun to be there with a bunch of girlfriends!

Okay hold on?
I didn’t know Tubas could make sounds like that? High notes? WHAT? And silly sounds that well.. sounded like a whale… farting. I know? Weird and wonderful, a  whole song featuring the Tuba!

Another Caroline Calouche & Co act on a trapeze this time and we were smitten. Where do we sign up? I need more of that in my world. Sprinkled in with all the music and fun and surprises and… was plenty of sing along style Christmas Songs: Joy to the World, Up on the Housetop, and Hark the Herald Angels Sing were a few we happily belted out.

And then. My new favorite song. 
God Bless Us Everyone from Disney’s A Christmas Carol with Frank Portone singing the Tenor part. Showstopping and yes, I totally cried a little bit. I only wish you had been there!

Rogers Girls CLTSymphonyMore than 2 hours of Unexpected Christmas Entertainment.
If you have a chance to go see the “Magic of Christmas” this year? Do it. It’s playing tonight & tomorrow night with a matinee on Saturday & Sunday as well. And if you don’t, then make a note NOW to take your family to next year’s Charlotte Symphony Christmas Concert!

Disclosure: I was a guest of the Charlotte Symphony, I was given tickets to the show in order to share my honest thoughts and opinions. I asked my daughters what their favorite part of the show was and they loved the aerialists! They also thought the event while fun and entertaining was also too long for them. They would have been completely happy with the show ending at intermission. Which surprised me because I was so happy when I realized there was still more!

My advice: take your children to see one of the matinees, the show is longer than I realized and at least for my teens it was a very late night. Or instead get a babysitter and make it a date night!

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