Motown Comes to MCDS

This year’s annual concert theme revealed.


Signed sealed delivered, the theme for this year’s annual Contemporary Music Ensemble (CME) concert is: Motown. Motown as in Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Jackson 5, Aretha Franklin, Lionel Richie, Tina Turner and the ultimate feel good musical movement? Yes. Motown.

In 1959, Motown Records was founded by Berry Gordy Jr. in Detroit, and it became one of the most explosive labels of all time. The 1960s upbeat jazzy musical style of Motown came to be self-referred to as “The Sound of Young America.”

And it was… it really was.

“Respect,” “My Girl,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “Stop In the Name of Love” are all records you’ve probably heard at least once, consciously or unconsciously. Maybe when your parents sang along to it on a road trip to Disney, or when you went to see Guardians of the Galaxy. Motown songs are immortal, unlike most hits that play on the radio today. Let’s face it, the chances of us students showcasing “CoCo” by O.T. Genasis to our children some 20-30 years down the road is unlikely.

Mr. Wicker confirms that “[the concert] will be a completely different type of music” than that which we are used to from CME, i.e. Weezer, Bob Marley, Paramore, etc. Chances are the night will be nostalgic for any parents in attendance, and fun for everyone. Guitar/Drum player and singer Sami Habib says it will be different from past concerts because “There will be a lot more people on stage at a time.”

The idea to do a Motown themed show came from Emily Estefan (‘13) about three years ago, and Mr. Wicker originally didn’t think it was possible, he confesses. But then, “The twins got funky” he says, referring to Natalia and Violeta De La Guardia, who helped Mr. Wicker make the idea become a reality.

The students and Mr. Wicker have been doing plenty of things to prepare for the show. I asked Mr. Wicker what kind of preparation is entailed for an event like this, and he said simply, “Many hours of rehearsal.” Any students participating in the event are the students that aren’t quitters. Sami also adds that he prepares by, “Lots of listening to Motown music. We need to all be able to get into the whole mindset of a Motown band since it is something we are not all used to. Besides that the usual practice makes perfect.”

Sierra Mathis, who plays violin, alto saxophone, clarinet, and triangle, points out that, “To pull off a show like this, we would need dedication from each and every student participating and rehearsals after school and sometimes on the weekends to make sure we know each set.”

The ensemble is composed of 16 student musicians. To become a member of CME, Mr. Wicker does not require you to have taken a music class at school, but you have to be able to play music, enjoy it, and be committed to the group. Being part of CME  is rigorous, and their concert deserves a lot of attendance.

Vocalist Joshua Hug says he expects the group “Will have a much more performance-like concert this year. Sort of like a pseudo musical with acting in order to better engage the audience.” In past CME concerts (i.e. Dark Side of The Moon, Woodstock, The Circle, One Night Only) there hasn’t been much ‘acting’ other than B.J. getting into character to be the MC every year, so we can definitely expect something new.

Mr. Wicker says that ultimately, the goal is “To put on a great show and expose people to new music.” The concert, which will take place on March 12th and 13th, should be a night of nostalgia and a blast.