Winter Solstice, Pete Seeger, “Look Up!”

Posted by on Sep 6, 2014 in Paul Winter Updates



Image © Yossi Leshem

We were privileged to take part in two of the events of the five-day SeegerFest in July, honoring Toshi and Pete Seeger. At the Bardavon Opera House in Poughkeepsie, there was a “family night” concert. We played and sang “Minuit”, which was a song Pete had loved, and in a medley with the Irish jig “Blarney Pilgrim,” to which my daughters danced an Irish step duet, and then joined me in singing “Common Ground” along with the audience.

At the Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors in New York, the Consort and I played “Wolf Eyes”, and invited the audience to join us in a grand chorus howl for Toshi and Pete, and for the Native American political prisoner, Leonard Peltier. There were well over 100 performers including the various groups in this afternoon event. For me, highlights included an eloquent tribute to Pete by Harry Belafonte; Pete’s daughter Tinya reading a letter from Leonard Peltier in prison, titled “My Friend Pete”, and the finale, with all the performers onstage and singing and playing “We Shall Overcome.” The entire audience of 4,000 sang along. [ See NY Times article ]





Image © Jennifer Almquist

After Pete passed away in January, I realized that we had in our archive unreleased footage from two events we had done with Pete in 1982 and 1997, so we began editing in the spring toward a DVD which will be released this fall in companion with the remastered Petealbum, which we had produced in 1996.

More news to come.





Image © Kay Winter

On August 7th, 1974, 24-year-old Philippe Petit pulled off what must be the most astounding feat of daring in human history: walking a wire at the height of 1368 feet, between the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. The story of how he and his accomplices rigged the cables, told in his amazing book To Reach the Clouds and his Academy Award-winning film, Man on Wire, is almost as galvanizing as the walk itself.

To mark the 40th anniversary of the event, Philippe created an event at a magnificent art and landscape sanctuary, The Longhouse Reserve, in East Hampton, New York, this past August 7. His wire was strung between a tower and a great tree, the same 60 yard distance as between the World Trade Towers, but this time only 40 feet off the ground, instead of 1368. His choreography recreated his awesome feat of 40 years ago.

I had the welcome opportunity to be his musical accompaniment, playing solo from a round raft, floating in a pond beneath the wire. I played in antiphony with narratives from Philippe’s book, describing his feelings before and during the original walk, read by actress Melissa Leo.

Philippe and I became artists-in-residence at the Cathedral in New York around the same time, in 1980. This was our sixth collaboration, and I look forward to more to come.

Philippe’s new book, Creativity: The Perfect Crime, is quite wonderful. He is one “Renaissance man” I know for whom the term in inadequate.