Grosse Pointe Schools give the gift of music

By: April Lehmbeck | Grosse Pointe Times | Published November 29, 2012

 Grosse Pointe North and South Choirs are going to perform during the annual Holiday Concert and Tea next week.

Grosse Pointe North and South Choirs are going to perform during the annual Holiday Concert and Tea next week.

GROSSE POINTES — When it comes to supporting the arts and local schools, Grosse Pointe residents have made it one of their priorities, so the high school choirs are once again saying thanks with some tea and festive tunes.

The 2012 Holiday Concert and Tea will be held at 1 p.m. Dec. 5 at the Grosse Pointe Community Performing Arts Center, 707 Vernier, in Grosse Pointe Woods. It’s an annual celebration and a way to give back to the community that supports the schools. Admission is free, and choirs from both high schools will take the stage.

“Every holiday season, The Grosse Pointe North Parents’ Club and The Grosse Pointe South Mothers’ Club host a Holiday Tea Concert for the community,” Grosse Pointe South Mothers’ Club President Cynthia Sohn said in an email. “This concert is a gift to the community as a way of saying  ‘thank you’ to all of those who have supported our wonderful Grosse Pointe Schools.”

That support has been critical to the schools during a down economy.

“Grosse Pointe is one of the few communities in our state whose taxpayers continue to vote to support excellence in academics,” Sohn said. “Even more important, because of the support given by our senior citizens, most of whom are on fixed incomes and no longer even have children in our public schools, this community continues to have one of the finest music programs in the state. 

“All of those associated with our schools want to thank the community and those senior citizens for their support,” she said, adding that “the students and families who benefit from their generosity want to let our senior citizens, and our taxpayers, know they appreciate their unwavering support.”

Sue Austin, president of North’s Parents’ Club, agreed that it’s a way to show appreciation to the seniors for continually supporting the schools.

The Holiday Concert and Tea has been going on for many years. It draws a good-sized crowd, but there’s room for many more in the 750-seat auditorium.

“It would be great to see it filled to capacity,” Amy Muawad, co-chair of this year’s event, said in an email. “The concert is free and is a wonderful way to start the holiday season. 

“Since the concert tradition was initially started as a way of thanking community members without school-age children for supporting the public school system through their taxes, the Holiday Concert and Tea committee sends letters to senior citizens facilities in the community to let them know about the concert,” Muawad said.  “Many come in vans and buses, or on their own. Some of the people who attend have had children in the schools more recently but know about the concert and come out for an enjoyable afternoon.  Regardless of how old someone is or whether they have, or ever had, children in the (the district), everyone is welcome.”

The choirs will perform classical holiday tunes and more modern selections. There will be solos and different specialty choirs from the schools, as well.

“Some numbers will be choreographed, including the South Santa Tappers,” Muawad said. “There will also be some pieces performed by a combined North/South Choir, including The Hallelujah Chorus finale.  The performance will feature some of each school’s full holiday concerts, which will both be presented on December 14th and 15th.”

South Director of Choirs Christopher Pratt said in an email that he thinks the Holiday Concert and Tea is “a wonderful opportunity for the choirs at North and South to work together and invite the community to enjoy a free concert.”

“The Grosse Pointe community clearly supports the music programs in our public schools, and this is an opportunity for the programs to show their appreciation for that support,” he said.

He said that he and Ben Henri, North’s Director of Choirs, have chosen an opening piece for both high school choirs to perform together, and they’ll close with their traditional finale. 

Following the concert, there is coffee, tea and cookies. Also, they will be selling boxes of holiday cookies for $3 each, which helps to cover some of the supply costs. The North Parents’ and South Mothers’ clubs cover the remaining costs.  

Parents of freshmen students donate homemade or bakery cookies for the event each year.

“Volunteers from both the South Mothers’ Club and North Parents’ Club organize and sort the cookies in an assembly-line fashion, making up individual boxes to be sold after the concert,” Muawad said. “It is a nice opportunity for parents of both schools to work on a project together and get to know one another. The opportunity to purchase cookie boxes is also appreciated by concertgoers who enjoy homemade cookies but no longer bake, or don’t enjoy baking.”