This event is our musical welcome to the summer. Summer Solstice is one of the great turning points of the year, when the sun is at its peak and the days abound with the promise of life’s fullness. My dream, with this sunrise celebration, is to offer an experience of this resonance, in the mystical ambience of these early morning hours, through a deep listening journey within the awesome space of this largest cathedral in the world. Our music begins in total darkness, and proceeds in a continuous flow, emanating from different places in the Cathedral. Gradually, as the great stained glass windows begin to illuminate, the light joins the sound to carry us into the first dawning of the summer.
Tickets will be available closer to the event date.
Performing with Paul Winter
A member of the Paul Winter Consort since 1978, cellist Eugene Friesen has won Grammy Awards™ for his role on 4 Consort albums. He has liberated the cello from its traditional role in classical music. Having studied at Yale with renowned Brazilian cellist Aldo Parisot, he has blazed a new trail for this soulful instrument. Eugene also plays in Trio Globo with harmonica and keyboard virtuosos Howard Levy and percussionist Glen Velez. As Celloman, he has introduced his instruments to thousands of young people. A composer for cello and also full orchestra, Friesen is a professor at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, His book, Improvisation for Classical Musicians was published by Berklee Press/Hal Leonard.
Grammy Award™-winning multi-instrumentalist and composer Paul McCandless specializes on the oboe, English horn, bass clarinet, soprano and sopranino saxophones, as well as a collection of folk flutes. Grounded in jazz and classical traditions, McCandless was the Consort’s original English horn player in 1968 and has been an integral member of the Consort’s major events and albums over the years. A founding member of the remarkable quartet Oregon, he has performed with Wynton Marsalis, Pat Metheny, Steve Reich, the String Cheese Incident and the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow.
Jeff is a music force of nature yet to be discovered by the broader world. He is a master of the jazz arts, as virtuoso keyboardist and trumpeter, as composer and arranger, bandleader and educator. Graduate of Eastman School of Music, he is currently Professor of Music and Director of Jazz & African-American Music Studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Featured on the Jazz at Kennedy Center Series with the Billy Taylor Trio, Holmes has performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Sammy Davis Jr., Louis Bellson, Vanguard Orchestra (Thad Jones/Mel Lewis), Sheila Jordan, Henry Mancini, Johnny Mathis, Mel Torme, David Goloschokin, John Abercrombie, Slide Hampton and numerous NYC Broadway shows.
Raymond Nagem, Associate Organist at the Cathedral and C.V. Starr Doctoral Fellow at the Julliard School, is one of the leading organists of his generation One of the leading organists of his generation, he has a remarkable ability to improvise using the idiomatic language of classical music traditions but with the adventurous spirit of jazz. He performs on the St. John the Divine’s Great Organ, widely considered to be the masterpiece of American pipe organ building and an acclaimed national treasure. The Great Organ has 8,514 pipes and several extraordinary features, including the world famous State Trumpet above the Cathedral’s West End, one of the most powerful organ stops in the world.
Why Celebrate the Summer Solstice?
The two great celestial milestones of the year, the Summer and Winter Solstices, are perhaps humanity’s most ancient ritual observances. People paused at these times to reflect upon the journey of life, with its trials, blessings, hopes and promise.
The word ‘solstice’ comes from the Latin ‘sol’ (sun) and ‘stitium’ (to stand still). Summer Solstice occurs when the Sun reaches its northernmost point from the equator and seems to pause before reversing its course; at the Winter Solstice the Sun attains its southernmost point and, once again, seems to stand still before turning back.
The Sun, our great golden star, is the source of our life, and each of our lives is a multi-faceted journey with the Sun. On one level, we are cycling through each day and night, as the Earth rotates from dawn to dawn in the light of the Sun. On another, we are traveling through each year, being carried 584 million miles by the Earth as it swings around the Sun from one Summer Solstice to the next. Simultaneously, we are riding with the Sun as our entire Solar System travels within the Milky Way galaxy, which itself is one of the dozen galaxies in what astronomers call our Local Group. And this whole Local Group of galaxies, in turn, is revolving around the Virgo Cluster of 2000 galaxies, 53 million light-years distant from us.
Making music at Solstice is one way to celebrate our amazing journey. If, in our listening, we are carried by the music, then perhaps the experience of that moment can be a hologram of the entire journey. In reality, the journey is right now, wherever we are. And when we are listening, each moment is the beginning.
Thank you for being part of our ongoing Solstice journey.