Paul Winter’s 40th Annual Winter Solstice Celebration, 2019
Where: Cathedral of St. John the Divine
1047 Amsterdam Ave.
212-316-7540 Price: $38-$148
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Paul Winter’s Winter Solstice celebrates the spirit of the holidays within the extraordinary acoustics of New York’s greatest Cathedral. The event features musicians of the Paul Winter Consort, vocalists, dancers and drummers. A dazzling extravaganza of music and dance, the 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. Broadcast on National Public Radio for the past 27 years, hosted by WNYC’s John Schaefer, the Celebrations have become New York’s favorite holiday alternative to The Nutcracker and Radio City’s Christmas Spectacular.
This year marks the 40th year for the event, as well as the 50th anniversary for the Paul Winter Consort. The Winter Solstice special guest will be singer/songwriter and activist Noel Paul Stookey, best-known as a member of the famed folk music trio Peter, Paul and Mary. Stookey was the producer of the Paul Winter Consort’s first two albums, in 1968 and 1969, and has been a key mentor and collaborator during those first 50 years of the band. Gospel singer Theresa Thomason, a beloved favorite of past Winter Solstice Celebrations, will also be featured, and the 10-member Paul Winter Consort will be joined once again by the 25 dancers and drummers of the Forces of Nature Dance Theatre.
This is the first time in seven years that the Saturday night concert will take place on the actual night of the winter solstice.
Since they began, the celebrations have been a forum for performers from different music traditions around the globe, taking place in one of the most extraordinary performance venues, the world’s largest cathedral, New York’s St. John the Divine. The length of two football fields and tall enough to fit the Statue of Liberty under its dome, with titanic acoustics and a seven-second reverberation, it was designed with sacred geometry to be a transformative space. Over the years, the event has evolved into a theatrical extravaganza that inhabits the Cathedral’s entirety, transforming the Nave into a forest, the belly of a whale, or a night sky, where a giant earth globe spins from the vault like a tiny planet in the cosmic vastness. A gong rises 150 feet to the vault to celebrate the sun’s ascent, and the traditional evergreen takes the shape of a a 28-foot spiral “Tree of Sounds,” adorned with a multitude of bells, gongs, and chimes, to symbolize the diversity of the life on Earth.
Thursday, December 19th, 7:30pm
Friday, December 20th, 7:30
Saturday, December 21st, 2pm, 7:30pm