Western Wind Vocal Ensemble’s ‘Holiday Light,’ Music of Chanukkah & Xmas

The Western Wind, the internationally acclaimed a capella vocal sextet, will perform “Holiday Light: Joyous Music for Chanukkah and Christmas” on December 20, 2014 at 8:00 PM at The Church of Saint Luke in the Fields, 487 Hudson Street, NYC. The unique program celebrates Chanukah and Christmas in one festive evening of song. The Church of St. Luke in the Fields, a West Village landmark, is known for its intimate, country-church-like atmosphere and warm acoustics.

The evening contains a diverse array of holiday music from the middle ages to today. Organized by themes such as Darkness and Light, Holiday Miracles and Comfort Ye, the program ranges from Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Early American and Romantic songs to contemporary works, folk songs and spirituals. Clever and amusing arrangements of seasonal classics such as “Winter Wonderland” and Tom Lehrer’s “Channukah in Santa Monica” add levity to the evening. Also appearing will be Patricia Davis on violin and Will Holshouser on accordion.

The evening’s Channukah selections are from “Chanukah in Story and Song,” The Western Wind’s CD and public radio show of the same name. They include Sephardic, Yiddish and Hebrew songs, many accompanied by violin and accordion. These songs tell the story of the holidays and describe its history, miracles and its customs and special foods.

David Vanderwal, Elliot Z. Levine, Michel Kennedy, Linda Jones, Todd Frizzell, William Zukof
David Vanderwal, Elliot Z. Levine, Michel Kennedy, Linda Jones, Todd Frizzell, William Zukof. Photo by Rebecca Fay.

Christmas selections include music from Spain, Germany, Latin America and the United States and feature a new arrangement of “The Road to Bethlehem” by Astor Piazzolla.

The program includes two works written for the Western Wind by New York composer Robert Dennis: a Hebrew setting of Psalm 30 and a setting of the medieval English poem “Of a rose, a lovely rose, Of a rose is al myn song.” Violinist Patricia Davis will join the singers in both these pieces.


Since 1969, The Western Wind, has devoted itself to the special beauty and variety of a cappella music and is now celebrating its 45th anniversary. The ensemble’s repertoire reveals the diverse background of its members, from Renaissance motets to 50’s rock ‘n’ roll, from medieval carols to jazz standards, from complex works by avant-garde composers to the simplest folk melodies. Its singers are Linda Lee Jones, Michele Kennedy (sopranos), William Zukof (countertenor), Todd Frizzell, David Vanderwal (tenors) and Elliot Z. Levine (baritone). For detailed biographies of the six singers, visit www.westernwind.org/about.html.

In the United States, The Western Wind has appeared in many distinguished venues, including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, ArtPark, Ordway Theater, the Metropolitan Museum, the Frick Museum, the Jewish Museum, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Library of Congress, and Cleveland Museum of Art.

The ensemble has been a favorite of the American Choral Directors Association and has been featured at regional conventions in Maryland, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Georgia and Indiana, as well as at the ACDA national convention. In 2012, The Western Wind performed concerts and gave workshops in Sydney Australia including a performance of its Holocaust program at the Sydney Jewish Museum.

In Europe, the sextet appeared at the Geneva Opera in January 1999, performing two works it commissioned: “Batey” by Tania Leon and Michel Camilo and “De Orishas” by Tania Leon. From 1980-1985, The Western Wind recorded early and contemporary American vocal music for the West German National Radio (WDR) at Cologne, and made several triumphant tours of northern Italy, performing Italian Renaissance as well as American music. The group has appeared with the RAI Orchestra and Chorus of Rome at the Rome Opera and at Venice’s legendary opera house, La Fenice. In 1985, The Western Wind premiered Cesar Franck’s opera, “Stradella,” for La Fenice in an outdoor Venetian setting. At the request of the State Department (USIA), The Western Wind has also performed American and Latin American music throughout East Asia and has presented concerts and workshops on several occasions in Japan.

The Western Wind’s newest recording of music by Meredith Monk and Eric Salzman was awarded Best of 2014 by Gramophone Magazine. In addition to their many live performances, the unique sound of Western Wind may be heard on radio, television, film, and CD. A series of public radio holiday specials by The Western Wind has been broadcast nationwide since 1989, and the group has been televised on The Today Show (NBC). On film, the ensemble sings music by Philip Glass in the movies “Koyaanisqatsi” (Nonesuch Records) and “Candyman.”

“Holiday Light: Joyous music of Chanukkah and Christmas” will be presented December 20, 2014, Saturday at 8:00 PM. The Church of Saint Luke in the Fields is located at 487 Hudson Street, NYC, 10014.Tickets are $35 reserved section, $25 general admission and $20 students & seniors. The box office is (212) 873-2848, www.westernwind.org or email: [email protected].