This past Saturday, McDoc and I attended Noel Night, a giant holiday celebration in Detroit’s Cultural Center. (You didn’t think Detroit had a cultural center, did you? Since moving to the area, I’ve been pleased to discover that it’s not nearly as bad as people think!) The museums, churches, and businesses in the area hosted dozens of special events: music and dance performances, crafts for kids (and grown-ups!), shopping… in short, too much to do in too little time. Detroiters were out in force, despite the fact that it snowed all evening. We hit the highlights, with a special emphasis on music, of course!
- The opening movement of Vivaldi’s Gloria (audio sample from Amazon), which made me a bit nostalgic, because I played this piece last year on Christmas Eve at my former church job.
- Morten Lauridsen’s setting of O Magnum Mysterium (audio sample from a-cappella.com) — this is a favorite in our household, as McDoc has sung in it.
- They closed with “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”, and this was my favorite selection simply because the choir members really got into it — they let the audience know that they really wanted that figgy pudding!
The Noel Night schedule listed music and dancing in the Detroit Public Libary, and I had to check that out, because really, how often do you get to dance in the library without fear of being escorted out by security? Plus, they were serving cider and doughnuts, which is a popular combination around here.
After getting a nice sugar high going, we headed to the Scarab Club, a gallery that features the work of Michigan artists. We heard a very cool band out of Ann Arbor, My Dear Disco. Their music is a mix of disco, techno, and funk, and I defy anyone to listen to it without tapping their toes. They were fun to watch, too, not only because they were obviously enjoying themselves so much, but because from the way the band members were dressed, I would have expected some kind of grungy alternative sound — and I enjoy having my expectations tweaked like that!
After a brief visit to an open house at my future home (sigh, I can dream, can’t I?), it was time for the big sing-along out on Woodward Avenue, led by the Salvation Army Band. McDoc and I were keen to join in, cuz we’re nerdy like that, and the nice man in charge was really putting his heart into it, but there were a few glitches. Herewith, then, is my music nerdy tip sheet for anyone who is preparing to lead a holiday sing-along:
- Make sure you’re playing the songs in a key that is comfortable to sing in. I kept having to switch octaves from my low chest voice into my high dog-whistle voice, and that really drains some of the enjoyment out of it!
- Instruct the band on playing a brief introduction to each carol, rather than just starting in and forcing people to catch up. Often the last line of the tune is a good intro.
- Know the words! You may think you know them, but after the first couple lines of each song, you may have forgotten.
- Plan the order of songs in advance. Hint: “Silent Night” should be sung last, perhaps with one last rousing song as a coda/exit music, but usually it’s nice to leave on that peaceful note.
We headed out during the second chorus of “Jingle Bells,” though, because the snow started looking like it was turning into freezing rain, and we wanted to get on the road before it got too slick.
So there you have it — Detroit: A Winter Wonderland!