Paul Winter’s Winter Solstice celebrates the spirit of the holidays within the extraordinary acoustics of New York’s greatest Cathedral. This multi-media event features musicians, vocalists and the 25 dancers and drummers of the Forces of Nature Dance Theatre. A dazzling extravaganza of music and dance, these performances offer a contemporary take on ancient solstice rituals, when people gathered together on the longest night of the year to welcome the return of the sun and the birth of the new year. The event has become New York’s favorite holiday alternative to the Nutcracker and Radio City’s Christmas Spectacular.
Paul Winter's Winter Solstice Celebration
December 14, 15 & 16
at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine
The Consort includes: Paul Winter on soprano saxophone, cellist Eugene Friesen, double-reed player Paul McCandless, keyboardist Paul Sullivan, organist Tim Brumfield. Featured guests will include gospel singer Theresa Thomason, and the 25 dancers and drummers of the Forces of Nature Dance Theatre.
Cathedral of St. John the Divine
The largest cathedral in the world, utterly unique as a venue, St. John the Divine's all-embracing vastness overwhelms differences, and yet welcomes and affirms diversity. Since 1980, when it began, the Winter Solstice Celebration has brought together musicians from around the world, everything from raucous Russian choruses and party-ready samba bands to powerfully contemplative performers, from Puerto Rican pop singers and prisoners of conscience to prayerful Tibetan vocalists. Over the years, the event has evolved into a theatrical celebration that inhabits the entirety of the Cathedral’s cavernous space, all the way up to the 150-foot ceiling. The titanic space transforms into a forest, or a night sky, where a giant earth globe spins from the vault like a tiny planet in the cosmic vastness. What other concert space could host the world’s largest sun gong as it rises, spotlit, 12 stories high? “Of all the places I've played in America, only two could host a concert on this scale: the Cathedral and the Grand Canyon,” Winter says. (The Cathedral happens to have the same seven-second reverberation as the Grand Canyon.)
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Winter Solstice Celebration
The two great celestial milestones of the year, the Summer and Winter Solstices, are perhaps humanity’s most ancient ritual observances. People paused at these times to reflect upon the journey of life, with its trials, blessings, hopes and promise.
The word ‘solstice’ comes from the Latin ‘sol’ (sun) and ‘stitium’ (to stand still). Summer Solstice occurs when the Sun reaches its northernmost point from the equator and seems to pause before reversing its course; at the Winter Solstice the Sun attains its southernmost point and, once again, seems to stand still before turning back.
The Sun, our great golden star, is the source of our life, and each of our lives is a multi-faceted journey with the Sun. On one level, we are cycling through each day and night, as the Earth rotates from dawn to dawn in the light of the Sun. On another, we are traveling through each year, being carried 584 million miles by the Earth as it swings around the Sun from one Summer Solstice to the next. Simultaneously, we are riding with the Sun as our entire Solar System travels within the Milky Way galaxy, which itself is one of the dozen galaxies in what astronomers call our Local Group. And this whole Local Group of galaxies, in turn, is revolving around the Virgo Cluster of 2000 galaxies, 53 million light-years distant from us.
Making music at Solstice is one way to celebrate our amazing journey. If, in our listening, we are carried by the music, then perhaps the experience of that moment can be a hologram of the entire journey. In reality, the journey is right now, wherever we are. And when we are listening, each moment is the beginning.
Thank you for being part of our ongoing Solstice journey.
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