Four Shows Only at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine
General Admission: $35 and $55
Reserved Seating: $90
Winter Solstice Celebration
Paul Winter’s Winter Solstice celebrates the spirit of the holidays within the extraordinary acoustics of New York’s greatest Cathedral. 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.
“An immersive, multimedia extravaganza, as grand and expansive as its location.”
– The New York Times
“Feasts for the ears and eyes”
– Wall Street Journal
“We dare you to keep a smile off your face as Theresa Thomason belts gospel tunes and the giant earth ball soars to the ceiling of the spectacular Byzantine cathedral.”
– Gotham Magazine
“Fueled by Winter’s soaring soprano saxophone, the annual concerts unfold as a spectacle of theatre, dance and music from around the world.”
– National Public Radio
In addition to the foundational sound of the Consort’s 10-piece ensemble and the powerhouse gospel voice of Theresa Thomason, the event will feature special guests from Brazil. The Brazilian collaborators show two complementary sides of their country’s vibrant, vast musical heritage: the crystal-clear, bittersweet songs of Renato Braz and the warm, upbeat sambas of Fabiana Cozza, making her New York debut. Braz will perform from his upcoming album Saudade (Spring 2016). Cozza radiates warmth and sheer joy as one of the reigning queens of samba, a rare treat for New York audiences. The 25 dancers and drummers of the Forces of Nature Dance Theatre will be premiering a new piece, choreographed for this year's Solstice celebration.
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.)
1047 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10025
at 111th St. & Amsterdam Ave., Manhattan; near Columbia Univ.directions & parking
WINTER SOLSTICE TRADITION
Winter Solstice is the shortest day and the longest night of the year. Traditionally, it is a time of both foreboding and expectancy, as the longest night leads to the revival of the sun. And yet it is a turning point, when the sun reaches its southernmost point from the equator and seems to pause before reversing course. “Solstice” in Latin means “the sun standing still.”
In ancient times, observers watched the sun sink lower in the sky each day, and feared it would disappear completely and leave them in darkness.
People practiced special rituals intended to entice the sun’s return. Bonfires and candles, with their imitative magic, helped fortify the waning sun and ward off the spirits of darkness. These symbols live on in our modern seasonal customs: the candles of Hanukkah and Christmas are kin to the fiery rites of old, which celebrated the miracle of the earth’s renewal.
These traditions reflect our need to come together in times of extended darkness. We celebrate not only the rebirth of the sun, but the community of life on earth.