The Christmas Revels: In Celebration Of The Winter Solstice 2020

Series produced by HOUSTON PUBLIC MEDIA RADIO PRODUCTIONS

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“THE CHRISTMAS REVELS: IN CELEBRATION OF THE WINTER SOLSTICE 2020” is an all-new, 119-minute or 59-minute musical celebration of the Winter holidays -- Christmas, the Solstice, Chanukah, New Year’s 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 2020” is an all-new compilation of musical excerpts, plus a few short poetry and prose readings, selected from the live Christmas/Winter Solstice Revels stage productions that took place in December, 2019, in eight 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 Feasts of Saint Nicholas and Saint Stephen, Chanukah, Saint Lucia’s Day, the Feast of Fools, New Year's, Twelfth Night/Epiphany, and other end-of-the-year festivals, along with various cultures' hereditary observances of the Winter Solstice, some 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 Seventeenth-Century England, our Revelers celebrate the Yuletide with carols and wassails in the Great Hall of a sturdy but comfortable manor house which actually exists in real life and still stands in Britain’s Northwest Midlands. Villagers in the Balkan lands of Croatia, Serbia and Greece hail the arrival of Christmas, New Year’s and Epiphany with lively koledas and kalantas (carols) whose melodies and rhythms blend characteristics associated with both Western European and Middle Eastern cultures. We discover the soul of America in its traditional music – shape-note hymns, Appalachian ballads, Shaker and gospel songs, fiddle tunes and African American spirituals – as we travel around the country at Christmastime during the Great Depression years of the 1930s. Holiday party-goers at the Medieval castle of a wise and benevolent French king sing noels and an ancient chant announcing the Good News of the Holy Birth, and then they burn off some physical steam by stepping out to an estampie and an istanpitta, the latest French and Italian dance crazes to sweep Southern Europe in the Fourteenth Century. At a street market in Victorian London, everyday working-class people add warmth to the increasingly festive holiday atmosphere by singing carols from England’s rural parish church West Gallery tradition, while at a Royal Command Performance at the legendary Crystal Palace exposition and performance hall nearby, their upper-crust neighbors enjoy a light-hearted music-hall song about Old Father Christmas and a new Yuletide carol by Britain’s most popular composer of operettas, Sir Arthur Sullivan. 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 others' 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 the vibrant, highly spiritual music of Giovanni Gabrieli bursts forth from the reverberant interior of Saint Mark’s Basilica, lending 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 Dave and the Dalmatians, a Seattle-based a cappella ensemble specializing in the traditional music of the Balkan lands of southeastern Europe (Tacoma, WA); Squirrel Butter (Charlie Beck, banjo, fiddle, vocals, and Charmaine Li-lei Slaven, guitar, fiddle, flat-foot dancing, vocals) and Tui (Jake Blount, banjo, fiddle, vocals, and Libby Weitnauer, fiddle, vocals), two duos who perform the traditional old-timey string-band music of Appalachia (Cambridge, MA); early- and Celtic-music vocal soloist, soprano Susan Rode Morris (Oakland, CA); early-music instrumental virtuosos, Hildur V. Colot, Wayne Hankin and Karen Hansen, Medieval and Renaissance wind instruments (Hanover, NH), Betsy Branch, violin (Portland, OR), and Shira Kammen, violin, vielle, folk harp (Oakland, CA); music-theater and gospel singer, Carolyn Saxon (Cambridge, MA); and klezmer clarinetist, Seth Kibel (Washington, DC). 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, 161 public stations and thousands of listeners around the country enjoyed this holiday treat. We hope you'll plan to license the 2020 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 2020” (One-Hour Version) is an all-new, 59-minute musical celebration of the winter h...

Bought by Troy Public Radio, Interlochen Public Radio, WVRU, KUAT, Harford Community Radio and more


  • Added: Nov 16, 2020
  • Length: 59:00
  • Purchases: 15
Piece image
“THE CHRISTMAS REVELS: IN CELEBRATION OF THE WINTER SOLSTICE 2020” (Two-Hour Version) is an all-new, 119-minute musical celebration of the winter h...

Bought by Mississippi Public Broadcasting, WNIJ, Interlochen Public Radio, WUAL, WVRU and more


  • Added: Nov 16, 2020
  • Length: 01:58:57
  • Purchases: 30