New York

A Three-Day, High-Sensory, Secular Take on Yuletide Joy


Is it simply love of winter wonderlands or the surname he was fated with that has found saxophonist-composer Paul Winter presenting his secular take on yuletide joy for 26 years now? Regardless, Winter has remained true to his original aim of creating a multicultural alternative-holiday celebration. This high-sensory, three-day New York City tradition features dance, theater, and music—always with an environmental and ecumenical bent. This year’s hosts, NPR and the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, have invited the Forces of Nature Dance Theater Company (an African American collective promoting global and ecological perspectives), Dmitri Pokrovsky Ensemble (Russian folk singers and dancers), Renato Braz (Brazilian vocalist), and Paul McCandless (double reed player of the jazz group Oregon). Using state-of-the-art, Broadway-like razzle-dazzle, Winter takes the audience on a symbolic sojourn through the year’s longest night by maximizing the performance space of the cathedral, with players ascending to the vaulted ceiling while a giant “Earth Ball” orbits overhead. This isn’t even mentioning the 28-foot-tall, spiraling sound-sculpture-tree or the motocross-jumping, Day-Glo-painted elves. OK, we jest about the green-orange mini-jumpers. But nonetheless, this is an over-the-top family-fun spectacle that sure beats hot wax, cold hands, and off-key caroling.

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