Paul Winter at Cathedral of St John the Divine
Paul Winter. Photo credit: Clifford A. Sobel
The sunny and rhythmic music of Brazil will warm the hearts of New Yorkers this December when Brazilian superstar Ivan Lins and colleagues join with the Paul Winter in the 34th Annual Winter Solstice Celebration, Dec. 19 through 21, at New York's Cathedral of St John the Divine, the world's largest cathedral.
Now in its 34th year, the Winter Solstice Celebration has become New York's favorite holiday alternative to the Nutcracker and RadioCity's Christmas Spectacular. This event is a contemporary take on ancient solstice rituals, when people felt a calling to come together on the longest night of the year to welcome the return of the sun and the birth of the New Year. Non-denominational and open to all, this secular celebration shares the Cathedral's universal mission of being a "unifying center" and takes full advantage of the extraordinary acoustic qualities of the Cathedral.A renowned Grammy-winning saxophonist, composer and bandleader, Paul Winter is long known for his pioneering work with world music, jazz and the voices of the natural world - returns with this latest offering in his long tradition of solstice celebrations at the Cathedral. The music of Brazilwill be a special focus of this year's event, and feature legendary Brazilian singer Ivan Lins, singer/guitarist Renato Braz, a Brazilian chorus, and the 25 dancers and drummers of the Forces of Nature Dance Theatre. The ten-member Paul Winter Consort will also include dynamic gospel singer Theresa Thomason. Ivan Lins is one of Brazil's most beloved musical superstars, and its best-known living songwriter. He has recorded more than 35 albums and won multiple Grammy and Latin Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year. His songs have been recorded by many notable international artists, including Ella Fitzgerald, Barbra Streisand, Sarah Vaughan, Michael Bublé, George Benson, Take 6, and Dave Grusin. Paul Winter has felt a kinship with Lins since he put English words to his song "Velho Sermão" in 1977 for the title song of the Paul Winter Consort's album Common Ground. But this will be the first time that Winter and Lins perform together. This year's Winter Solstice Celebration will be dedicated to the Consort's longtime colleague, Brazilian guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves, who passed away in September.
"The winter solstice occurs on the longest night of the year. It is the moment when the sun seems to stand still on its apparent path across the sky before reversing its course," Winter explains. "This key moment in the relationship of the earth to our sun gives us a rare opportunity to embrace the darkness and the fact that we all share this home in the universe." To encourage this experience, the solstice performance creates a tapestry of the world's music. This culminates in "The Journey Through the Longest Night," a 25-minute musical suite, with an elegantly choreographed transition from darkness to light, and musicians moving through the cathedral's shadowy nave. The turning Solstice Tree of Sounds, a 28-foot spiral aluminum sculpture glittering with hundreds of gongs and chimes, draws both eye and ear. At the climax, a giant sun gong with its player rises twelve stories into the heights of the cavernous Cathedral. These moments transform the performance into a live surround-sound and visually immersive experience. They give the celebration depth, breadth, and a bold energy.
It all started with a quirky carte blanche from the Cathedral's ecologically-minded dean, the Very Reverend James Parks Morton, who in 1980 told Winter, when he invited him and the Consort to be artists-in-residence, "That means you can do anything you want, baby."Winter and the Consort wanted to find the most universal milestone of the year and celebrate it. The solstice was a groundbreaking choice: It has long vibrated with expectancy and fire, and can counteract the hype and commerce that characterize the December holidays. Celebrating solstice was a way to have ritual, but without the bounds of organized faith. They created an annual event that made full use of the Cathedral, its unique and mysterious feel, seven-second reverberation, and even its world-class pipe organ. "My aspiration is that the audience will come away with their spirits awakened, and with a deepened sense of relatedness to the world and perhaps even the cosmos," Winter explains. "I'd like to invite people to come with a sense of adventure. I want to take them on a journey, and bring them home."
The three-day concert will be at The Cathedral of St John the Divine, located at 1047 Amsterdam Avenue(at 112th St, near ColumbiaUniversityon Thursday, December 19th and Friday, December 20th at 8pmand on Saturday, December 21st at 2:00 pmand 7:30 pm. For info call 866-811-4111.Ticket price $35 and $55 and $90 (reserved seating) or online www.SolsticeConcert.com or www.paulwinter.com/winter-solstice.