Oct 062013
 

NSWC portrait

Monadnock Folklore Society’s annual presentation of this seasonal favorite! Admission $15/$12(Sr/Jr).

Nowell Sing We Clear with its unusual songs, carols, stories, and customs has toured every year since 1975. Drawn mostly from English-language folk traditions, the songs tell both a version of the events and characters involved in the Christmas story and detail the customs which make up the twelve magical days following the return of the light at the winter solstice. Many of these ancient customs are the basis of the today’s holiday traditions, such as visiting and feasting, gift-giving, carol singing from door-to-door and the adorning of houses and churches with garlands of evergreen.

Nowell Sing We Clear celebrates Christmas as it was known for centuries in Britain and North America and as it continues in many places to the present.  The songs come from an age when the midwinter season was a time for joyous celebration and vigorous expression of older, perhaps pagan, religious ideas. There is not always a clear line between these and the rejoicing at the birth of Jesus bringing a fresh light into the world at this dark midwinter time. A special and unusual treat is the enactment of a Mummers Play from Kentucky.  Performed in the traditional manner, the play is typical of folk dramas which survive to this day throughout Britain and North America symbolizing and portraying the death of the land at midwinter and its subsequent rebirth in the spring.

While much of the singing is done in unaccompanied style, the pageant is also stamped with the energetic dance band sound of fiddle, button accordion, electric piano, drums, and concertina.  The audience will be supplied with song sheets and encouraged to sing along, though after three decades of touring in New England, a whole generation of young people have grown up with these songs and carols and sing along with as much as they can. Some “new”, that is “different”, songs and carols are introduced every year.  Performers are John Roberts and Tony Barrand, widely known for their lively presentations of English folk songs, and Fred Breunig and Andy Davis, well known in New England as dance callers and musicians.

Nowell Sing We Clear has become a regular part of some communities on the Eastern seaboard.This year the ensemble will be playing as far south as West Chester, PA, and as far north as Brattleboro, VT.   The group has several recordings of songs from the show which have been popular items in many households at this time of year. Their CDs are drawn from songs learned for their concerts: The newest is Nowell, Nowell, Nowell. Others are Just Say Nowell, Hail Smiling Morn (which has a cover designed by famous Vermont artist, Mary Azarian), Nowell SingWe Four,  and Nowell, Nowell, Nowell. The first three LP recordings are all well represented on a compact disk, The Best of Nowell: 1976 – 1985 All recordings are available from Golden Hind Records.

 Posted by on October 6, 2013 at 12:25 pm

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