Christmas Revels “Celestial Fools” Magical Winter Tale

Fill your heart with music and magic during this Winter Solstice season. As the days grow shorter and we anticipate the longest night of the year, there is hope as the Christmas Revels “Celestial Fools” take us on a journey throughout the world to bring back the sun with song and dance. The “Magical Winter Tale” performances continue through December 15 at the Lisner Auditorium in DC. It is an event not to be missed this holiday season.

In their premier performance celebrating seasonal traditions from around the globe, three companions, the stars, the moon and the sun, led the audience in search of the new light of the New Year. The trio of light was performed by three master artists, Mark Novak as the stars, Shizumi Manale as the moon and Karim Nagi as the sun.

Novak, a rabbi and musician, is a remarkable artist with a gift of weaving storytelling with music and great humor. In the traditional Hebrew words of prayer, cantor Novak called upon the Creator to return the light: “You create day and night, rolling light away from darkness and darkness away from light.”

Karim Nagi brought forth the sun with his virtuoso drum performance and middle-eastern folk dancing that had the audience clapping with exuberance. In the instrumental version of a traditional Arabic song, “Ah ya Zayn al-Abidin,” Nagi captured the essence of beauty in rhythm and dance accompanied by the Village Band.

And the mystical performance of “Tzuki” (Moon) by Shizumi Manale celebrated the moon with a blended contemporary and traditional Japanese dance, revealing her exquisite talent to spiritually engage the audience. She was accompanied by the Celestial Children and the eclectic guest woodwind artist Seth Kibel, winner of many instrumentalist awards throughout the world.

The guest artists and cast of over 100 ranging in ages from 9-90 performed the Bruegel inspired vignetts singing Romanian folk songs (accompanied by guitarist Vladimir Friedman), medieval hymns, Israeli songs celebrating Chanukah, an Arabic song dedicated to a Muslim saint, a Sufi-inspired dance, a Sussex Carol, an Irish incantational verse and many other songs representing diverse holiday traditions. Artistic Director Roberta Gasbarre, Music Director Elizabeth Anne Fulford and Production Manager, Colin Bills, truly put together an inclusive seasonal celebration.

The audience was an integral part of this “Magical Winter Tale.” They were led masterfully by Producer Greg Lewis in the “Twelve Days of Christmas” sing-along, which brought the audience to their feet, and in the “Rounds of Peace” which made a unified call for peace combining both Hebrew and Arabic texts.  The finale Sussex Mummers Carol closed the evening accompanied by the magnificent sound of the Bruegel Brass ensemble.

Photos courtesy of Portia Davidson and Lisa Polgar

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