The Paul Winter Consort’s Silver Solstice Celebration

Blomington (Indiana), USA – The Paul Winter Consort has released

Silver Solstice
, a CD with

Dmitri Pokrovsky Ensemble
Mickey Hart,
, and more.

Paul Winter’s annual Winter Solstice Celebration has now firmly taken its
place among the major, durable Holiday traditions of National Public Radio (NPR)

New York City
. The event’s 10,000 annual revelers make it among the
best-attended celebrations of seasonal change in the country. In the United
States, it has consistently been among Billboard magazine’s top-ten grossing
events during its week of performance. For at least twelve of its sixteen years
on radio, the NPR broadcast of the event has been among NPR’s six most popular
cultural program specials of the year.In the years since Winter’s Celebration
has emerged, there has been a proliferation of solstice events, perhaps
fulfilling a yearning in the nation for alternative yet inclusive ways of
honoring holiday time for people of diverse faiths and spiritual paths.

The cumulative music of the 25th annual Winter Solstice Celebration at the
Cathedral is captured on

Silver Solstice
: The Paul Winter Consort & Friends, on Winter’s
Living Music label. This three–disc box set also includes ten tracks from
earlier Solstice events, many of which are also previously unreleased. The 142
minutes of music are on two stereo CDs, and in 5.1 Surround Sound on a bonus
DVD-Audio disc, which includes four streams: High Resolution 5.1 Surround Sound,
High Resolution Stereo, Dolby 5.1 Surround, and Dolby Stereo. Winter says the
audiophile recordings may be the “best presentation of our music ever.”

NPR listeners will have a chance to hear the live recording from which the CD
was drawn during the nationwide broadcast this year of the 25th anniversary
Winter Solstice Celebration. The broadcast will include narration and interview
features, but is otherwise similar to the CD. The release comes just in time for
Paul Winter’s 26th Annual Solstice Celebration, continuing its tradition as “New
York’s Holiday alternative” December 15, 16, and 17, 2005.

In 1980, the opportunity to play in the Cathedral’s extraordinary space
inspired me to look at the big picture
,” Winter explains. “I wanted to
celebrate the universals, the things we share in common with all peoples. We
were coming out of the ’70s. We had become accustomed to seeing the photos of
the whole Earth which the astronauts brought back from space. This cosmic
dimension gave me the answer I was seeking: the Winter Solstice, at least for
northern peoples, has since ancient times been the great turning point of the
year, when at this darkest and coldest time, we welcome the return of the Sun. I
never dreamed that we were launching a tradition that would still be growing a
quarter-century later

From all his acoustical explorations with his soprano sax over the decades, in
wilderness locations and concert halls on six continents (all but Antarctica),
Winter’s two favorite playing spaces are the Cathedral, and the Grand Canyon, a
place of pilgrimage for him for over forty years. He considers it no coincidence
that the Cathedral, and his primary recording site within the Canyon, both have
a reverberation time of seven seconds. The Cathedral’s monumental architecture
and enveloping acoustics have a profound effect on musicians and listeners
alike—a “Grand Canyon East.” The immensely resonant space of the Cathedral asks
you to listen, and to play, in new ways.

Sound coming from a distance has a certain magic,” says Winter. “It
activates instincts from our genetic memory—of ancient times when we lived
outdoors, and needed to be able to judge how far away certain sounds were. So we
often have musicians playing from different corners and balconies of the
Cathedral. When the lights are low and you cannot see the ceiling, it almost
feels like you are outdoors in some great canyon. Charles Ives has long been an
inspiration for me. He loved to place musicians in different spaces, to get this
effect of distant sound. You cannot get it by simply changing the volume level
of the music

The Cathedral is a fitting forum for Winter’s aural-vision of a genre of “Earth
Music,” celebrating the entire community of culture and creatures of the world.
During four decades of travel, in 48 countries of the world, Winter has evolved
an extended community of kindred players, and the Solstice Celebration in New
York has become their annual reunion. This embrace of diversity is, for Winter,
the hallmark of the solstice tradition, and he regards this yearly gathering as
a kind of musical feast. The

Silver Solstice
album presents this eclectic cornucopia.

Winter’s Solstice Celebration takes the listener on a symbolic journey through
the longest night of the year, incorporating theatrical musical effects that
highlight the titanic space of the Cathedral. The centerpiece of the event is a
giant, rotating “Solstice Tree”—a 28-foot spiral aluminum sculpture hung with
hundreds of bells, gongs, and chimes representing the diversity of life on
Earth. The climactic return of the sun is celebrated by the world’s largest
tam-tam gong, seven feet in diameter, which slowly ascends, with its player, to
the 100-foot vault of the Cathedral. Presented “in the round,” the Solstice
Celebrations feature a stage in the middle of the Cathedral, with audience on
both sides.

Silver Solstice
is Winter’s first foray into Surround Sound. “I’m
thrilled with Surround: this is the way I’ve always dreamed of hearing our music
says Winter. The effect, for the listener, is that of being amidst the band, in
the center of the world’s largest Gothic cathedral.

[CD cover © Jeff Day].

Author: World Music Central News Department

World music news from the editors at World Music Central