The Christmas Revels: In Celebration Of The Winter Solstice 2021

Series produced by HOUSTON PUBLIC MEDIA RADIO PRODUCTIONS

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“THE CHRISTMAS REVELS: IN CELEBRATION OF THE WINTER SOLSTICE 2021” is a newly-updated, 119-minute or 59-minute musical celebration of the Winter holidays -- Christmas, the Solstice, Chanukah, New Year’s, Jonkonnu and Twelfth Night/Epiphany -- featuring traditional carols, chants, wassails, hymns, children’s game-songs, and folk dance-tunes excerpted from live Christmas Revels stage productions presented around the country.

We are billing this as a “Series,” but it is not actually what we normally think of when we hear the term, “Series”; that is to say, it is not, in reality, a collection of thematically-related individual episodes that are meant to be aired in sequence. Our CHRISTMAS REVELS “Series” is, in fact, one single program that is being offered in two versions: There is the complete, full-length, two-hour edition of the show, and – for those stations that would prefer it – a half-length, one-hour version, which is identical to the second half of the two-hour edition, but which can be broadcast on its own as a stand-alone, self-contained, 59-minute holiday feature. Radio station programming decision-makers are welcome to license and air whichever version of the program best fits the needs and preferences of their station, their broadcast schedules and their audiences. The description below generally applies to both versions of THE CHRISTMAS REVELS Holiday Special; however, not all of the cultures, performers, or types, styles or genres of musical selections mentioned in this article appear in the one-hour edition of the show. Please consult the individual Program/Episode Pages for the two versions of the program for specific details as to what’s included in each of the editions of the show in the way of musical content.

“THE CHRISTMAS REVELS: IN CELEBRATION OF THE WINTER SOLSTICE 2021” is a compilation of musical excerpts, plus a few short poetry and prose readings, selected from the live Christmas/Winter Solstice Revels stage productions that are presented each December in nine cities across the United States. This joyous holiday broadcast special is available in both a two-hour and a one-hour edition.

CHRISTMAS REVELS performances have been described as entertaining collections of country, ritual and courtly dances, wassails, carols, songs and ballads, hymns and anthems, story-telling, poetry and drama. They are made up of sacred and secular folk materials, plus some composed popular and “art” music, from traditional European. Middle Eastern and American celebrations of Christmas, The Feast Days of Saints Nicholas, Lucia, Basil and Stephen, Chanukah, the Feast of Fools, Jonkonnu, New Year's, Twelfth Night/Epiphany, and other end-of-the-year festivals, along with various cultures' hereditary observances of the Winter Solstice, some elements of which date back to pre-Christian times.

The music in this year's CHRISTMAS REVELS radio broadcast is almost entirely traditional, and it comes from several different cultures and eras. In medieval England, holiday party-goers at the castle of a wise and benevolent king sing wassails and carols and an ode to Yuletide revelry believed to have been associated with the topsy-turvy diversions of the old Feast of Fools. In the stillness of the night, as December expires and gives way to January, some of the men of our tiny hamlet in the Bavarian Alps gather at the door of our cottage and sing a wordless, yodeling chorale that heralds the arrival of the New Year. The lads and lasses of Eighteenth-Century Scotland remind us that, even though the celebration of Christmas was pretty much forbidden in their land for four hundred years, that some of the most beautiful Yuletide music ever conceived originated in Scotland, including an anonymous Sixteenth-Century motet that combines folk melodies with “learned” counterpoint, and which eventually evolved into the popular carol, “I Saw Three Ships.” In a modest but cozy cabin in the hills of late Nineteenth-Century North Carolina, we discover the soul of America in its traditional music – shape-note hymns, Appalachian ballads and carols, and fiddle and square-dance tunes – and we join in the traditional Caribbean and African American New Year’s procession known as Jonkonnu, which features elaborate, brightly-colored costumes, music, drumming, singing and dancing, and which has become – in the southeastern United States, at least – a commemoration of the freeing of the slaves on the First of January, 1863. Irish children go from door to door in their village, re-enacting the annual “Hunting of the Wren” Winter Solstice ritual, while their parents sing a song by the legendary Irish harper, Turlough O’Carolan, which tells of the equally legendary excesses committed back in the Sixteenth Century during the annual Christmas festivities hosted by the Irish chieftain, Brian O’Rourke. We stop at a crossroads somewhere in medieval Europe, where Christian, Muslim and Jewish merchants and travelers, soldiers, adventurers, pilgrims, sages and fools, and noblemen and thieves from both East and West, find themselves in each other’s company at the time of the Solstice and share their respective Winter festival customs, legends, songs and dances. And we accept the invitation of a troupe of commedia dell'arte players to join them on the streets of Renaissance-era Venice, Italy, where their lusty singing and dancing recall the raucous spirit of the Saturnalias of Ancient Rome, while a sacred song-setting of a Nativity poem by the most influential woman of Fifteenth-Century Italy, political strategist and writer, Lucrezia Tornabuoni de’ Medici, lends both solemnity and an uplifting quality to the occasion.

The enthusiastic performers heard in the program include the adult and children's choruses of each of the Revels companies, their professional brass quintets and instrumental folk-music groups and soloists, plus a distinguished line-up of featured guest artists, including award-winning traditional Irish fiddler, Kevin Burke (Portland, OR); the early-music ensembles, the Austin Troubadours (Houston, TX), and Piffaro, The Renaissance Band (Washington, DC); Appalachian traditional singer and clog-dancer, Suzannah Park, and gospel and spirituals singer, Janice Allen (Cambridge, MA); early-music and traditional fiddlers, Eden MacAdam-Somer (Cambridge, MA) and Shira Kammen (Oakland, CA); and traditional banjo-player and guitarist, Larry Unger (Cambridge, MA). The program is hosted by Catherine Lu, popular announcer-producer at Houston Public Media in Houston, Texas.

Because all of the Revels music is traditional – and accessible! – the show will fit into almost any radio format: classical, folk, AAA, world beat, eclectic or what-have-you. Last year, 102 public stations and thousands of listeners around the country enjoyed this holiday treat. We hope you'll plan to license the 2021 CHRISTMAS REVELS radio special and include it in your broadcast schedule – to the delight of your audience! – this coming Yuletide season. Hide full description

We are billing this as a “Series,” but it is not actually what we normally think of when we hear the term, “Series”; that is to say, it is not, in reality, a collection of thematically-related individual episodes that are meant to be aired in sequence. Our CHRISTMAS REVELS “Series” is, in fact, one single program that is being offered in two versions: There is the complete, full-length, two-hour edition of the show, and – for those stations that would prefer it – a half-length, one-hour version, which is identical to the second half of the two-hour edition, but which can be broadcast on its own as a stand-alone, self-contained, 59-minute holiday feature. Radio station programming decision-makers are welcome to license and air whichever version of the program best fits the needs and... Show full description


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“THE CHRISTMAS REVELS: IN CELEBRATION OF THE WINTER SOLSTICE 2021” (One-Hour Version) is a newly-revised, 59-minute musical celebration of the win...

Bought by RadioStPete Florida, KUAF Public Radio, WYAP, and KPBS


  • Added: Nov 29, 2021
  • Length: 59:01
  • Purchases: 4
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“THE CHRISTMAS REVELS: IN CELEBRATION OF THE WINTER SOLSTICE 2021” (Two-Hour Version) is a newly-revised 119-minute musical celebration of the win...

Bought by KUSU, Northwest Public Broadcasting, WYAP, KRPS, Hawaii Public Radio and more


  • Added: Nov 29, 2021
  • Length: 01:59:01
  • Purchases: 10