What does it take to put on a Christmas at Belmont production? For starters, 115 microphones, nine cameras and 50 production crew members from NPT alone. The Schermerhorn Symphony Center was decorated with 182 poinsettias, 20 kinds of evergreen shrubbery, 300 yards of fabric and glittery ribbon, and 150 lights in addition to the room’s own. More than 600 student performers, two special guests and a set list of traditional carols and festive seasonal songs. Christmas as Belmont 2019 premieres Monday, Dec. 23, at 8 p.m. on NPT and on public television stations around the country.
Grammy-winning musician Michael W. Smith and celebrated gospel artist CeCe Winans host the 2019 Christmas at Belmont holiday concert recorded last month at Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Among the groups to be featured in the production are the University Symphony Orchestra, Belmont Chorale, Percussion Ensemble, Musical Theatre, Jazz Ensemble and Bluegrass Ensemble, as well as mass choir.
The performance includes both classic holiday music such as “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” as well as festive seasonal songs like “White Christmas.” Smith performs his song “The Promise” and Winans sings a beautiful rendition of “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” Later, the hosts perform a duet of Smith’s “Christmas Day” featuring the Nashville Children’s Choir.
The best-selling and most-awarded female gospel artist of all time, CeCe Winans has influenced a generation of gospel and secular vocalists over the course of her astonishing career. She has been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the Nashville Music City Walk of Fame. In addition, she has been named a Trailblazer of Soul by BMI and has garnered multiple NAACP Image Awards, Soul Train Awards, Essence Awards and more. Winans has sold more than 5 million albums in the U.S., topping the gospel charts repeatedly while crossing over with hits like “Count On Me,” her duet with Whitney Houston from the multiplatinum Waiting to Exhale soundtrack.
During Michael W. Smith’s storied career, he has been honored with three Grammy Awards, 45 Dove Awards, an American Music Award and has sold more than 15 million albums. Smith has also given back to the global community by raising funds to battle AIDS in Africa alongside longtime friend Bono; starting Rocketown, a safe haven for young people; and helping more than 70,000 children’s lives through Compassion International.
The performance and taping of Christmas at Belmont returns for the sixth and final time to the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, one of the few venues in the world featuring natural lighting and state-of-the-art acoustics, including motorized acoustic drapes and an acoustical isolation joint that encircles the entire concert hall and prevents sound waves traveling into or out of the hall. Starting in 2021, Christmas at Belmont will be taped in Belmont’s new world-class Performing Arts Center.
For more on NPT’s holiday lineup, which includes London’s New Year’s Day Parade – with the Hendersonville High School marching band among the performers – Jan. 1 at 7 p.m. on NPT2, visit wnpt.org/holiday.