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Detroit Concert Choir Lifts Holiday Spirits with Concert Series


When was the last time you attended a choral performance? How about a Christmas concert? If you’ve ever been, you’d know how inspiring it is to hear the soul-filling sound of a soprano’s range or the solemness of a bass singer’s gravity. Given the right setting and a good choir, a choral performance has the power to make your own heart sing. Couple that with Christmas music that was designed to lift spirits and you have a recipe for an evening of joy.

The Detroit Concert Choir (DCC), a 65-singer ensemble, led by artistic director Dr. Brandon Johnson, will be performing three shows at three venues for its Christmas concert series. However, if you’re expecting something more contemporary, like “Jingle Bell Rock,” you might be in for a surprise.

“It’s carols and spiritual arrangements and it’s classical,” Detroit Concert Choir executive director Christine Rouce said. “I’d say classical gems. It has a theme of hope, love, light and peace, so it is definitely nothing about Santa Claus [laughs]. We’ve done ‘Jingle Bells’ but we’re not doing that this year. It’ll have familiar things, but it’s also, I would say, more refined, more classical.”

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The schedule for DCC’s upcoming Christmas concert series, containing multiple locations, can be found here. If you’re wondering which location will provide the best performance, according to Rouce, no one location is better than another, just different.

“They’re all different,” Rouce said. “St. Hugo is just…it’s very nice and acoustically it’s a very nice place to have a concert…St. Mary’s, which is downtown — people love to go there because of its history. It’s a historic Detroit church and people love to go there and look around and look up at the ceiling and look at the stained glass. It has a lot of history…And then Macomb Center…this one’s an auditorium that has assigned seating and the chairs are really comfortable, and they have a box office and a bar you can go to [laughs] at intermission, so they’re all completely different.”

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Detroit Concert Choir. Photo courtesy of Christine Rouce.

Now in its 31st season, the Detroit Concert Choir was founded by Rouce’s late father, Gordon Nelson, after he had retired from being a choir director and an educator.

“He thought it would be 10 [years]. ‘I’ll just do this choir for 10 years,’ and he did it for almost 30,” Rouce said.

Rouce herself has been a part of the choir, singing soprano, for almost its entire run.

“I’ve been in it about 30 years,” Rouce said. “Isn’t that crazy? 30, my goodness. I’m only 40! [laughs]. Yeah, I’ve been in it from the very beginning almost.”

In its 30+ year history, DCC has been rehearsing and performing at various locations across metro Detroit and, on occasion, internationally in countries like Germany, Wales, Italy and Spain. The choir also competed in some of those countries, winning a “Choir of the World” title from a festival in North Wales in 1996.

While DCC has travelled and performed internationally, one of its goals now is to invest in the metro Detroit community, the area it has always called home.

“We haven’t traveled lately and we want to travel again,” Rouce said, “but we also want to have a bigger mark here in our community, a bigger presence.”

“We’ve been called ‘Detroit’s hidden jewel’ or ‘Detroit’s hidden treasure.’ We don’t really want to be so hidden. We’d like to be more present and maybe be one of Detroit’s premier choruses.”

You can find DCC performing its Christmas concert series this month and for future performances, check out detroitconcertchoir.org.

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