Feb. 2 2011 12:00 AM

Audience participation is key at Mid-Winter Singing Festival



The Mid-Winter Singing Festival offers you an opportunity to sing alongside hundreds of other vocalists in the biggest chorus you’ve ever been a part of.

“A lot of people say it’s like church and (it’s) really moving,” said festival director Sally Potter.

The ninth annual festival happens Friday and Saturday at East Lansing’s Hannah Center, and features workshops, community sings and a salute to the legendary folk group The Weavers.

Friday night kicks off with a community sing and "Weavermania!," in which a quartet will recreate the sounds of the Weavers, whose hits included "Michael, Row the Boat Ashore" and "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine."

Mark Dvorak formed Weavermania with Chris Waiz, Barbara Barrow and Michael Smith. "We liked the ease of The Weavers playing," Dvorak said. "We kept that same loose style."

A free children’s concert on Saturday morning is followed by nine workshops, including Joel Mabus’ "Beyond the Strum: Guitar Tips to Make Your Song Sound Better," and a class in shape note singing led by Will Fitzgerald.

Another community sing — known as Michigania! — closes out Saturday. Six Michigan singers will lead the crowd in songs from the 1920s to the 1990s, and Rachel Alexander, the founder of Lansing’s womens’ chorus Sistrum will direct the All Comer’s Festival Choir. The choir is open for anyone to join.

The community sing and workshop leaders mostly come from folk backgrounds.

“There is a huge folk following in Michigan,” Potter said. “The song leaders do perform folk music when they play, but they bring all types of songs to the festival, like the Beatles and Elvis.”

Mid-Winter Singing Festival

Feb. 4, and Saturday, Feb. 5 Hannah Community Center, 819 Abbott Road,
East Lansing For a complete schedule, visit www.singingfestival.com