Around Town: Asheville Symphony welcomes 2023 with 007

DOUBLE AGENTS: Singers Mikki Sodergren and Jonathan Christopher will join the Asheville Symphony on New Year's Eve for a concert of songs from James Bond movies. Photos courtesy of the Asheville Symphony

Spend your New Year’s Eve shaken, not stirred.

The Asheville Symphony will present New Year’s Eve with 007 on Saturday, Dec. 31, at 8 p.m., in the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium at Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville. The symphony and two guest vocalists will perform iconic James Bond theme songs from the likes of Paul McCartney, Madonna and Billie Eilish.

“The James Bond vibe of tuxedos, martinis, luxury cars and eccentric gadgets seems a perfect marriage for the glitz and glam of New Year’s celebrations,” says Daniel Crupi, executive director of the symphony.

The Bond concert is the latest in a string of New Year’s Eve performances by the symphony. Past shows have featured the music of Beethoven, the Beatles, Cirque du Soleil and Motown.

New Year’s Eve with 007 will showcase guest vocalists Mikki Sodergren and Jonathan Christopher. Darko Butorac, the symphony’s music director, will be the conductor.

Sodergren, executive and artistic director of the American Traditions Vocal Collection, will sing “Goldfinger,” “Diamonds Are Forever,” “No Time to Die,” “Skyfall” and other Bond songs.

“She is a stunning vocalist who has the uncanny ability to span multiple styles with incredible range,” Butorac says.

Baritone Christopher, who toured nationally with Hamilton, has a four-octave range and will be featured in such songs as “Live and Let Die” and “From Russia with Love,” Butorac says.

“It is challenging, powerful and very well-orchestrated music that is perfectly suited for the symphony,” Crupi says.

The Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville is at 87 Haywood St. Tickets are $32-$82. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

Atomic Age Christmas

If you’re still yearning for a little Christmas magic after Dec. 25, the Transylvania Heritage Museum may be just the place for you.

The popular annual Aluminum Tree and Ornament Museum will remain on display in three rooms at the Brevard museum through Saturday, Jan. 14.

Visitors will find 24 kitschy aluminum Christmas trees and hundreds of ornaments dating from the 1950s-’70s. Such artificial trees peaked in popularity nationally in the early 1960s and were even called out as a symbol of crass commercialization in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” in 1965.

In recent decades, the trees have come to be seen as campy remnants of midcentury America.

“We hope visitors have a laugh, a memory, a happy feeling,” says museum director Rebecca Suddeth. “In today’s world, bringing a little fun and levity into people’s lives is a worthwhile endeavor.”

Brevard’s tradition of aluminum trees and vintage ornaments started in the 1990s, when home designer Steven Jackson began displaying his collection at various downtown businesses. The Transylvania Heritage Museum first exhibited the trees in 2009 and became the permanent home for ATOM in 2013.

“Once [Jackson] stopped displaying the trees, we approached him to see if we could pick up where he’d left off,” Suddeth explains. “He agreed to sell us 35 trees, and we went from there.”

ATOM is the Transylvania Heritage Museum’s most popular event each year, Suddeth continues. “We have new people as well as repeat visitors each year. Local people bring visiting family and friends to see it, and tour groups put it on their holiday trips. Everyone loves the exhibit.”

The exhibit is free, but donations are encouraged. For exhibit hours and additional information, go to

Wolfe award goes to Martin

The Western North Carolina Historical Association named Brent Martin‘s George Masa’s Wild Vision: A Japanese Immigrant Imagines Western North Carolina as the 67th winner of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award.

Martin was one of five finalists for the award, which has been presented annually by the association since 1955 for printed works that focus special attention on Western North Carolina.

“Martin brings together Masa’s arresting images and his own reflections on walking in Masa’s footsteps to tell one of our region’s important stories in an innovative way,” Catherine Frank, chair of the selection committee, says in a press release. “Masa played a pivotal role in the creation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Appalachian Trail through photographs that allowed viewers to experience places they would never visit.”

Martin, a poet and environmental organizer based in the Cowee community in Macon County, will receive $2,500.

Call for artists

Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center is seeking artists to participate in the 2023 {Re}HAPPENING on Saturday, March 25, at Camp Rockmont in Black Mountain, the former Lake Eden campus of Black Mountain College.

“Artists are encouraged to take risks and demonstrate elements of process, experimentation, collaboration and audience participation,” the museum says in a press release.

The letter of intent deadline is Monday, Jan. 9. Artists should email letters to Notifications will be sent by Wednesday, Jan. 25. For more information, go to

Christmas casting

The Casting Office Inc. is looking for background performers for an upcoming made-for-TV Christmas movie filming in the Asheville area starting Monday, Jan. 9.

The company is looking for people of all ages and ethnicities.

For more information or to apply, go to




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About Justin McGuire
Justin McGuire is a UNC Chapel Hill graduate with more than 30 years of experience as a writer and editor. His work has appeared in The Sporting News, the (Rock Hill, SC) Herald and various other publications. Follow me @jmcguireMLB

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