On the Eve of Christmas I was fortunate enough to attend two concerts. The Concerto Di Natale (Christmas Concert) started at 4 PM and consisted of a symphony playing music from the Grand Mass of Mozart. This included 2 female and 2 male opera performers singing gorgeous lyrics in Italian (or Latin I couldn’t really tell). The music and singing were phenomenal.
Apparently, because the concert was a "mass” (but not like a church mass) the entire concert is considered one song. Therefore, audience members do not clap between songs. They clap at the end of the hour long performance. And then they clap for a ridiculously long period of time.
It was weird for me to hear complete silence between these really great pieces. Good thing I’m not the first person to start clapping at events, or that would have been very embarrassing.
The second concert I attended was in a small concert venue that holds about 2000 people. I’d say the concert was 90% sold out. This was a performance by the “World Famous Harlem Gospel Choir.” The concert started at 9:30 PM and went until about 11:30 PM.
The choir came out in a single file, mamba-style line, singing Hallelujah and asking the audience in English to put their hands together for the Lord. I could not help myself, I laughed aloud. It sounds ridiculous now, but I wasn’t expecting gospel music. I was expecting Christmas music. I mean, it WAS Christmas Eve.
I don't think I have ever been so happy and so embarrassed at the same time as during the first ten minutes of this concert. How, I wondered, will this audience receive all this? How is this going to translate?
Oh they got it!
I think the turn in audience participation came when, after a ten minute tribute to the importance of praising our Lord Jesus Christ, the choir moved directly into the song Billy Jean by the recently departed Michael Jackson. Just in case you're not getting the irony here, this is a song about a man denying he is the father of Billy Jean's illegitimate child.
"Huh, interesting song choice." I think to myself. I was not quite sure what Billy Jean had to do with showing honor to the Lord, but it was soon revealed to me and my fellow audience members that the concert would be honoring the King of Pop AND our King Jesus Christ!
Okay… NOW I get it.
The next hour and a half consisted of all almost all Michael Jackson songs, where an occasional line was changed to accommodate a, “Praise the Lord,” or “In His name.”
Another of my favorite quotes from the evening included the ever so important audience participation chant. “I say Jesus, you say Christ.” So it went a little something like this…
Maybe it’s just me, but I was a little uncomfortable with this exchange. I don't know. Is it okay to yell, “CHRIST” back at someone yelling, “JESUS” at you? I’m still not quite sure.
Because it was Christmas Eve, we did receive a fantastic medley of Christmas songs which, along with the King of Pop tribute, made the evening just about perfect for me!
Think what you want, but those M.J. songs sure got those Italians on their feet and dancing in the isles with arms waving high. I have never seen anything like it. They loved it. Of course they did. It’s Michael Jackson for Christ’s sake! And I DO mean that literally.