The Show

Paul Winter's Winter Solstice Celebration 2012, New York35th Annual Winter Solstice Celebration – Dec. 18-20, 2014

A Holiday Celebration on a Spectacular Scale

The vibrant and exciting sounds of Puerto Rico will warm your heart this December when Danny Rivera and colleagues join with the Paul Winter Consort in the Winter Solstice Celebration, Dec. 18-20 [ buy tickets ], at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, one of New York City’s most spectacular landmarks.

Winter Solstice (Solsticio de Inverno) has become New York’s favorite holiday alternative to the Nutcracker and Radio City’s Christmas Spectacular. A dazzling extravaganza of music and dance, this glorious event celebrates the bounty of the Earth and the spirit of the holidays within the extraordinary acoustics of New York’s greatest Cathedral. It’s a contemporary take on ancient solstice rituals, when people felt a calling to come together on the longest night of the year to welcome the return of the sun and the birth of the new year.

Paul Winter, the saxophonist, composer and bandleader long known for his pioneering work with world music, jazz and the voices of the natural world, returns with this latest solstice offering. The music of Puerto Rico will be a special focus of this year’s event, featuring Danny Rivera, along with Puerto Rican bomba drummers and singers, and the 25 dancers and drummers of the Forces of Nature Dance Theatre. The ten-member Paul Winter Consort will also include dynamic gospel singer Theresa Thomason.

Paul Winter

winter_004_sm1A seven-time Grammy Award-winning saxophonist, Paul Winter was a college student in 1961, when his sextet won the Intercollegiate Jazz Festival and was signed by Columbia Records. The next year, the band toured Latin America as cultural ambassadors for the U.S. State Department, playing 160 concerts in 23 countries. At the invitation of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, the Paul Winter Sextet presented the first ever jazz concert at the White House in 1962.

Hearing the songs of humpback whales for the first time in 1968 further expanded Winter’s concept of a musical community. The Consort’s rich sound textures give Winter’s Earth Music its unique and alluring quality; sounds from the natural world are interwoven with classical and ethnic traditions, then infused with the spontaneous spirit of jazz.

In 1980, the Paul Winter Consort became artists-in-residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Each year’s Winter and Summer Solstice Celebrations and Earth Mass are among the most popular events in New York. “People get a sense of community – a sense of the whole wide community of life, which is one of the best things we could do with our music,” he says.

Paul Winter has performed in over 2,000 major concert halls, as well as Washington’s National Cathedral, Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, the Grand Canyon, the Negev Desert in Israel and the palace of the Crown Prince of Japan. He has received a Global 500 Award from the United Nations, and the Peace Abbey’s Courage of Conscience Award, among others.


Paul Winter Solstice ConcertWinter Solstice Tradition

Winter solstice (Solsticio de Inverno) 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.


The Paul Winter Consort

The story of the Paul Winter Consort and its predecessor, the Paul Winter Sextet, has evolved during a forty-year saga of adventure-through-music. Milestones include:

  • the Sextet’s horizon-expanding tour through twenty-three Latin American countries in 1962
  • the Sextet’s seven initial albums for Columbia Records under producer John Hammond
  • Paul Winter’s meeting with Pete Seeger in 1966, who encouraged him towards more participatory music
  • Paul Winter hearing for the first time the songs of humpback whales. Their haunting voices affected him in the same way as had those of the great jazz players and singers, and planted the seeds of creative ideas that blossomed on a number of his and the Consort’s later albums.

Infused with the rhythms and melodies of so many of the world’s cultures, Winter decided in 1968 to form the Consort as a forum for combining elements from various African, Asian, and South American cultures with jazz. “I borrowed the name ‘consort’ from the ensembles of Shakespeare’s time, the housebands of the Elizabethan Theater, which adventurously blended woodwinds, strings and percussion, the same families of instruments I wanted to combine in our ‘contemporary’ consort,” Paul Winter says.

Musicians such as David Darling, Paul McCandless, Ralph Towner, Glen Moore, Collin Wolcott, Nancy Rumbel, Jim Scott, Rhonda Larson, Russ Landau, Glen Velez, Paul Halley, Dorothy Papadakos, Eugene Friesen, Susan Osborn, Paul Sullivan, Mickey Hart, Oscar Castro-Neves, Nóirín Ní Riain, Jordan Rudess, Davy Spillane and many others have performed with the Consort.


Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York, Winter SolsticeThe Cathedral of Saint John the Divine

“Ever since St. John’s Day, Dec. 27, 1892, when the cornerstone was thrice struck into the living rock of Manhattan’s Morningside Heights, St. John’s has aimed to be a ‘house of prayer for all people.’ To its great bronze doors have come all the faithful — Christian, Jew, Buddhist, existentialist, best-dressed, lesser-blessed, socially distressed — seeking joy and triumph over the universal demons.

“In the arboreal stillness of its towering columns and arches, they have listened to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Buckminster Fuller, the Mayor of Jerusalem, Duke Ellington, the Dalai Lama, Cesar Chavez, Rene Dubos, Thomas Berry, Jesse Jackson, Vaclav Havel, Gary Snyder, Brian Swimme, Secretaries General of the United Nations, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Paul Winter Consort.

“Under the jewel light of its 10,000 pane Great Rose window, they have prayed together for war’s end. Though its keynote is distinctly American, as is that of the Episcopal Church, the Cathedral — affectionately called “Big John” — peals a message around the globe: ‘Peace on earth, good will toward all.’ ”

Wendy Insinger (from Town & Country magazine)

For news and updates, visit the Cathedral of St. John the Divine website.




Un espectáculo de baile, música y luz multimedia y multigeneracional celebra la alegría de las fiestas en uno de los hitos más espectaculares de la ciudad de Nueva York.

EN ESTA TEMPORADA NAVIDEÑA LOS CONMOVEDORES SONIDOS DE PUERTO RICO JUNTO AL INIGUALABLE DANNY RIVERA SE PRESENTARAN JUNTO AL GALARDONADO PAUL WINTER EN LA trigésima quinta edición, del Winter Solstice Celebration. El espectáculo presenta extraordinarios efectos teatrales, que incluyen un “árbol de sonidos” giratorio de aproximadamente nueve metros de alto, y un “gong solar” gigante que asciende, junto a su percusionista, por treinta metros, hacia la cúpula de la catedral para hacer sonar el regreso del sol en la noche más larga del año”. Un espectáculo deslumbrante de música y baile, este glorioso evento multimedia celebra la generosidad de la Tierra y el espíritu de las fiestas en uno de los hitos arquitectónicos e históricos más espectaculares de la ciudad.

Un gran espectáculo donde Paul Winter (formada por diez personas), la cantante de gospel Theresa Thomason, y los veinticinco bailarines y percusionistas del Forces of Nature Theatre que mostrarán una nueva coreografía realizada por su fundador y director Abdel Salaam, inspirada en los ritmos y la percusión de Puerto Rico. El Winter Solstice Celebration de Paul Winter; del 18 al 20 de diciembre, en la catedral más grande del mundo, St. John the Divine, ubicada en 1047 Amsterdam Avenue en la calle 112.