Claudia MacRae sang on stage with popstar Madonna during Super Bowl XLVI in 2012 at Lucas Oil Stadium. She sang the national anthem for Indianapolis Colts football games at Lucas Oil. She sang at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

And this spring, she will sing at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

The Noblesville woman in January will celebrate her 15th anniversary of singing alto with the 200-voice Indianapolis Symphonic Choir.

Being a member of the choir has afforded her some “excellent singing experiences beyond our usual concerts,” said MacRae, who shared with me more about her upcoming performances and her passion for singing.

This weekend, she’s back home again in Hamilton County, where she will sing with the Symphonic Choir, in its 81st season, for the “Festival of Carols,” today through Sunday at The Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel. The concert features a selection of fan favorites along with traditional holiday music with accompaniment by the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra.

MacRae sings, she said, “because it is a gift from God, and it is a blessing.”

Singing makes her happy and at the same time challenges her.

“When I was very young, my parents were always singing in the car on our vacation trips, in the kitchen while preparing dinner or when outside doing yard work,” she said. “They encouraged us to sing. So it was just natural for me to join the church choir and sing.”

MacRae had a good feeling when singing in church. And when she was old enough, she joined her school choirs. In college, she had to audition for the top-level choir and got in in freshman year at Maryville College in Maryville, Tenn. This experience made her realize she could benefit from voice lessons and got a voice coach, who encouraged her to sing at coffee houses to gain solo experience. During college and after, she ventured into musical theater, Sweet Adelines and opera.

When MacRae moved here 15 years ago from Vermont -- where she sang with Vermont Symphonic Choir for nine years - she joined the choir at the First Presbyterian Church of Noblesville. Fellow choir member, the late Gary Griffith, complemented her “lovely voice” and asked her to consider auditioning for the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, of which he was a member. She did and got in.
I met Claudia when she was painting show sets for The Belfry Theatre, where she was acting and singing in the theater’s “Nunsense” musical in May 2015. She played Sister Mary Claire and sang like a songbird, cracked jokes like a comedian and danced like nobody was watching. By day, she’s an art teacher MyArt Drawing School in Noblesville and Fishers and a substitute teacher at Noblesville High School.

MacRae looks forward to this weekend’s concerts. “The Festival of Carols is always wonderful to sing,” she said. But it’s even more wonderful to “look out on a full audience enjoying the music we are singing…It is like a little piece of heaven for me every year….”

MacRae loves The Palladium, which has “wonderful acoustics.” Her choir has sung at the venue since it was built and even before it opened to the public. Besides this weekend’s “Festival of Carols,” her choir will sing Handel’s “Messiah” there on Dec. 21-22 with Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

She loves her “choir family” and has made many friends in and outside of the choir.

MacRae, in her parting words, said, “Come hear us sing, and if you are a singer, better yet, audition and join us.”

“Festival of Carols” show times are 8 p.m. today and Saturday and 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The nearly two-hour shows include a 20-minute intermission. Tony Award-winner Alice Ripley is special-guest soloist at all performances. Tickets are $21-$46, with $15 student tickets, and are available online at or by calling the box office at (317) 843-3800.