P-CEP Choirs to go-a-caroling at Greenfield Village’s “Holiday Nights”


Jennifer Neumann

P-CEP’s choir carols at Greenfield Village’s Holiday Nights in December 2014.

For choir students across the Plymouth-Canton Educational Park (P-CEP), December 1 marks the start of a bright season of spreading holiday cheer through song. After a year-long hiatus from live caroling events, P-CEP’s choirs will continue the holiday tradition at Greenfield Village’s Holiday Nights celebration on Thursday, December 16. 

 Spanning eighteen different days, Holiday Nights is an annual Victorian-themed event at Greenfield Village, a world-renowned educational establishment and historical museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Participants of Holiday Nights enjoy festive streets, yuletide shops, and musical entertainment provided by the many different organizations and choral groups invited by the Village each year. 

“We’ve gotten repeat invitations every year,” said Jennifer Neumann, the P-CEP choral director of 22 years. Neumann’s choirs have participated in Greenfield Village’s Holiday Nights for about seven years, apart from last year’s absence from caroling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Last year it wasn’t safe to sing all together,” Neumann said. Concerts and events were canceled, apart from a socially-distanced outdoor choir concert in May 2021. 

P-CEP choral ensembles Encore, Parksmen, Chamber, and Madrigal Singers have the honor of caroling at this year’s Holiday Nights, Neumann said. The four choirs will combine and split into two groups, each group alternating between sets. 

They sing and then get a break to go ice skating or ride a Model T, or wander the shops or get hot chocolate. Then they come back and sing another set,” Neumann said. “It’s really a great event.” 

To prepare for Holiday Nights, P-CEP’s choirs participate in what is known as “Caroling Wednesdays.” A tradition dating back to 2005, students sing holiday tunes with Neumann on piano accompaniment. Neumann said the optional activity is a festivity that most students look forward to every year. 

“We have caroling binders that we go through with 50 some songs in it–traditional, sacred and secular pieces. We have amazing voices who can make up harmonies and improv and it’s really nice,” Neumann said.  

Caroling Wednesdays help sharpen students’ caroling skills that they use in several other events throughout the holiday season, including caroling at Kellogg Park in downtown Plymouth, Neumann said. 

Talena Meechen is a Canton senior in Encore, the only jazz choir offered at the Park. Meechen has been an alto in Encore since her sophomore year. With only twelve members, Meechen said she enjoys the close-knit bond the choir has created. 

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Meechen caroled with Encore at Holiday Nights in December of 2019. 

“I liked that all the choirs were banded together, because mostly we do stuff separately,” Meechen reminisced. “It was fun to be there.” 

Caroling events like Greenfield Village’s Holiday Nights help increase comradery with students while showcasing the P-CEP’s choirs’ musical talent. “This is the first time in two years that there’s been an outside school choir event because of COVID, so I’m excited for that,” Meechen said of this year’s upcoming event. 

For Canton junior Reese Short, this will be her first time attending Holiday Nights. Short has been in the choral program at P-CEP since her freshman year, with experience in Allegro and Dulcisima. Currently an alto in the highest level female choir, Madrigal Singers, Short said her favorite part of being in Madrigals is “the people and the music.” 

Short expressed lots of enthusiasm for Holiday Nights. “I’m excited to go with everybody, experiencing everything with this group is going to be so much fun,” Short said. “Our voices blend together so well, and it’s going to feel good for us and solidify our singing voices as artists.”  

Like most of her peers, Short considers Caroling Wednesdays a valuable part of the caroling experience. “I love messing around with harmonies and hearing everyone put harmonies to the melody. Having Ms. Neumann do accompaniment, it sounds so good,” Short said. 

Meechen has similar opinions surrounding Caroling Wednesdays. “I love Christmas music. I’m so excited to sing it every year,” she said.  

Due to its increased popularity, Greenfield Village’s Holiday Nights is currently sold out, but community members can show their support for P-CEP choirs by attending their next school concert on December 14 at 7pm.  

P-CEP’s caroling at Holiday Nights will be an experience to remember. Afterall, what better way to celebrate the holiday season than with a song?