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Sample Track 1:
"Icarus" from Winter Solstice 2010
Sample Track 2:
"Love Is Not In Your Mind" from Winter Solstice 2010
Sample Track 3:
"Sun Singer" from Winter Solstice 2010
Sample Track 4:
"Minuit - Auld Lang Syne" from Winter Solstice 2010
Layer 2
Paul Winter Consort, Winter Solstice 2010 A New York Tradition:
Celebrating Winter Solstice with Music, Dance, and the Sun

Paul Winter Consort, Armenian Singer Arto Tuncboyaciyan,
Forces of Nature Dance Theatre, and You at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, December 16-18, 2010

The winter solstice brings the year’s final feast, as the harvest is in and the long winter looms. Ritual bridges the treacherous gap between darkness and renewed light, from Japan to Mali to Northern Scandinavia.

From this rich cloth, six-time GrammyÒ winning musician Paul Winter and the Paul Winter Consort have fashioned a constantly shifting pageant to mark the occasion, flooding the shadowed heights of a cathedral with light and vibrant movement, with fresh ritual and celebration. Over the past three decades, it’s become a New York tradition, an innovative, creative answer to the holiday tinsel, invoking our bond with the sun and the cosmos.

The 31st annual Winter Solstice Celebration (December 16-18, 2010) at the magnificently resonant Cathedral of St. John the Divine continues the age-old lineage of solstice festivities. The edgy energy of category-defying Armenian singer and percussionist Arto Tuncboyaciyan and the stirring rhythms of the Forces of Nature Dance Theatre feed the Consort’s vision of an all-embracing human moment. This year’s solstice celebration will see the debut of a collaborative piece composed with the special guests, as well as the live premiere of selections from the Consort’s latest album, Miho: Journey to the Mountain.

The solstice has long been a moment for reflection and merriment, surrounded by powerful rituals of sound and light. “The winter solstice occurs on the longest night of the year. It is the moment when the sun seems to stands 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 a home in the Universe.”

To encourage this contact, the Consort’s celebration creates an intense, rippling 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 aluminum installation 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 world’s largest Gothic cathedral.

These moments transform the performance into a live surround-sound and vision immersive experience. They hint that the celebration has greater depth and breadth—and a bolder energy—than many realize.

It all started with a quirky carte blanche from the Cathedral’s ecologically minded dean, the Very Reverend James Parks Morton, who told Winter, when he invited him and the Consort to be artists-in-residence, “That means you can do anything you want, baby.”

What Winter and the Consort wanted to do was find the most universal milestone of the year. The solstice was a groundbreaking choice: It had long vibrated with expectancy and fire, and could counteract the hype and commerce that characterize the December holidays. They wanted 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. Crafting a performance defined by a singular space remains an innovative one. Winter and the Consort, old hands at playing everything from the Grand Canyon to the striking I.M. Pei-designed Miho Museum in Japan, transform the great empty nave into a full-bodied sensory delight, invoking voices from the four corners of the globe.

One of these voices belongs to Anatolian-born Armenian cutting-edge musician, Arto Tuncboyaciyan, who can move effortlessly from Black Sea traditions to jamming with the rock band System of a Down. With a shifting palette of invented words, Tuncboyaciyan invokes the bittersweet longing and unflagging strength he has gained grappling with his family’s and people’s tragic past.

Winter first heard Tuncboyaciyan, a masterful percussionist, sing at a rehearsal, when a voice drifted quietly through the room during a break. “I sat and listened and was fascinated,” remembers Winter. “When he finished, I asked what he was singing and he replied, ‘Oh, it’s just something I came up with.’ I insisted he sing at our next concert and it was unforgettable.”

Joining the Consort and Tuncboyaciyan will be the dynamic Forces of Nature Dance Theater, in an original collaborative piece. The Theatre’s deep embrace of West African and African diaspora forms and rhythms creates an intriguing dialogue with the more northerly sensibilities Winter engages. The result promises to be exciting, visceral, and festive. 

“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—to have some new musical experience and also to go deeper into themselves. I want take people on a journey, and bring them home.”

The Winter Solstice will be celebrated Dec. 16 & 17 at 8:00pm and Dec. 18 at 2pm and 7:30pm, at St. John the Divine. (1047 Amsterdam Ave at 111th St.; near Columbia Univ.) For more info and tickets, see