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Showing posts from December, 2019

Winter Songs on Mars

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Photo by Waldemart Klyuzko
Koliada is a solstice ritual from Eastern Europe that predates Christianity in some aprts. Koliadnyky is a Ukrainian vocal group that sings Koliada songs. The group has teamed up with The Yara Arts Group to present for one performance the show Winter Songs on Mars at La MaMa.
The text is adapted from a 1780 puppet show, a nativity play called Vertep, and it’s fused with traditional Koliada songs. It’s all put into a clever context of Martians discovering their ancestors were Ukrainian - it’s silly but it gives the play a nice frame.
Of course, those ancestors show up - with drums, vibes, piano, a bass, a cello, more drums, and specially tuned fiddles. The traditional instruments are a trambita (a “mountain horn”), the duda (bagpipes made from a goat), drymby (jaw harps) and a tylynka (an “overtone flute”). And there’s a large hammer dulcimer - at one point the musician turns it over and raps on the wooden back.
The grand, full-bodied singing is largely from men …

Paul Winter’s 40th Annual Winter Solstice Celebration

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Paul Winter’s 40th Annual Winter Solstice Celebration opened with Paul Winter’s soprano saxophone heard in darkness. Then he was spotlit in his white jacket. It was the start of a marvelous one-night-only three-hour concert at St. John the Divine’s Cathedral, the largest cathedral in the world. The venue is monumental and the jazz concert matched its grandness.
From where I sat, I could see the seven sanctuary lamps in the apse burning behind the players. Audience on the other side of the players saw the entrance to the cathedral dimly lit. There was an organ by the raised playing area, and on scaffolding on the area’s sides were the other musicians, The Paul Winter Consort. There was a bass, a euphonium, an alto sax, a cello, keys, drums and more drums. And gongs - three on each side.
The tone of the pieces ranged from fragile to ecstatic, some of the best moments coming from Mr. Winter’s sax solos and a lovely cello solo by Eugene Friesen. Friesen not only bows - he strums and plucks …