Wintery Songs In Eleventy Part Harmony with Jennifer Kimball, Rose Polenzani, Mariel Vandersteel, Deni Hlavinka, Hannah Read & Valerie Thompson at Passim
The 8th Annual Celebration of Wintery Songs in Eleventy Part Harmony with Jennifer Kimball and friends.
Wintery Songs in Eleventy Part Harmony is a collaborative group of Boston-based singers and string players who gather once a year to reinvent the sound of the holidays. With new arrangements of classics (both sacred and secular) and a throng of unlikely additions to the seasonal lexicon, Wintery Songs is anchored by major-label veterans and highly acclaimed harmony singers Jennifer Kimball and Rose Polenzani. Re-arranging hymns and pop gems, Wintery Songs celebrates the sacred tradition and also represents the fascinating sonic melting pot of December sounds: the pagan, the schmaltz, the pop, and new ‘cold’ songs by alt-pop bands Real Estate and Mt. Eerie, and new songs by Jennifer Kimball, Laura Cortese and Brittany Haas.
Part POPS in a suitcase, the Wintery Songs strings play with a distinctly celtic flavor and share with the singers a healthy dose of irreverence. The songs on the group’s debut album, HARK, run the gamut from familiar hymns “Joy to the World” on baritone uke (sung by Kimball) and “The Holly & the Ivy” (Cousins) with a driving rhythmic string drone to a Scottish style jig written by Laura Cortese. All six ladies sing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” a cappella in a round, one after the other until the rising and falling of voices becomes a chant. Polenzani’s magical arrangement of Real Estate’s “Snow Days” shimmers; Kimball’s “Jingle Bells” ala Frank Sinatra swings, Cortese’s reharmonization of “Winter Wonderland” is deeply satisfying in a minor key. “Silent Night” might send a little shiver down your spine with each member of the group playing one glockenspiel note at a time and special guest folk superstar Anais Mitchell singing lead. A medley of tunes from Tchaikovsky’s "Nutcracker Suite,” arranged by the superb cellist Natalie Haas (featuring Kimball and Polenzani on glockenspiels and everyone singing) is a showstopper!
While Kimball functions as ringleader/instigator, every member of the group contributes new songs to this truly collaborative project. “I look forward to all this ridiculously inventive harmony singing all year long,” she says, adding, “and it’s lady-time — what’s not to like!”
Celebrating their 8th annual show at Club Passim, Wintery Songs in Eleventy Part Harmony embodies a cultural shift toward redefining the holidays more around music and art, and less around church. “Club Passim is our new church and not just at Christmas, but for endless shows year ‘round! And sacred choral music is still as compelling as it was for the many dark December candlelit services of my youth,” says Kimball, who divides her stage time equally between poignant moments and deadpan humorous ones (case in point — last year’s audience sing-a-long of “Heck the Dalls with Houghs of Bolly!”).
The folk supergroup’s first cd HARK (featuring the energetic and spectacular fiddler Laura Cortese, super celtic cello innovator Natalie Haas and her sister, the extraordinary roots/trad fiddler Brittany Haas) will be available at shows and can be purchased on iTunes or cdbaby anytime.