Conceived and Directed by Guy Mendilow
Narration by Regie Gibson & Guy Mendilow
Special Guest: Courtney Swain
Featuring: the Boston City Singers or a collaboration with your local youth choir

Show Overview

Sit Down, Children.
(A scene from Heart of the Holidays)

Find renewed inspiration and joy with this non-conventional yet engaging holiday show. Somewhere between This American Life and a top-tier world music concert, stories, choral singing, and stirring musical arrangements  guide audiences  in an experience of the holidays' essence: the choice to celebrate abundance at the height of scarcity, to spark light just when it grows darkest outside. With spoken word and songs inspired by the artists’ African, European, North American heritage traditions, Heart of the Holidays invites audiences  to create a new, deeper connection, cutting through the commercial cliché and worn favorites, right to the heart of the season.

*Because one of the ways we know to be light is to come together, and because singing is such a strong way to come together, Heart of the Holidays includes segments in which audiences are invited to add their voices in a collection of deeply moving rounds from around the world.

Music of hope and affirmation, sophisticated in its delivery but easily accessible to listeners anywhere.
— Chicago Tribune
...lovingly crafted. The program starts off quite dark in its premise but the overarching hope displayed as it progresses and the end result was quite emotional and musically moving. The Guy Mendilow Ensemble is very tight musically and the “surround sound” of the choir facing the audience during the audience round sing was terrific. Guy Mendilow’s experience as a master educator is clearly evident as he worked with the various community partners to achieve a thrilling performance that brought tears to the audience.
— Robin Baker, Senior Manager of Community Engagement Celebrity Series of Boston
An international tour de force.
— Bethlehem Morning Call

Regie Gibson (narrator)

Literary performer Regie Gibson has lectured and performed widely in the U.S., Cuba and Europe. As a representative of the U.S., Regie competed for and received the Absolute Poetry Award in Monfalcone, Italy. Regie and his work appear in “love jones” a feature-film based on events in his life. He’s been featured on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, various NPR programs and has presented for several TEDx events. He’s served as a consultant for both the National Endowment for the Arts “How Art Works” initiative and the “Mere Distinction of Color,” an exhibit at James Madison’s Montpelier, examining the legacy of slavery and the U.S. constitution. He is a recipient of the Massachusetts Cultural Council Award for Poetry; The Walker Scholarship for Poetry from the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center; a YMCA Community Writer’s Fellowship; The Lexington Foundation Education Grant; and is a recent recipient of a 2017 Brother Thomas Fellowship for Artistic Excellence from The Boston Foundation.
Learn more: Regie Gibson

 


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Courtney Swain (piano, vocals)

Musician, songwriter, composer and recording artist Courtney Swain began her musical career as a classical pianist in her native Fukuoka City, Japan. When her path shifted to the expressiveness of singing and the emotional release of rock music, Swain studied voice, classical composition, and commercial production at Berklee College of Music. At Berklee, she co-founded the band Bent Knee, hailed by the Wall Street Journal as “silo-smashing sextet [that] taps into chamber pop, industrial rock, metal and prog-rock. Featuring the versatile, ever-appealing voice of Courtney Swain, Bent Knee’s unique mix is equal parts ingenuity and deliciousness.” Bent Knee’s latest album "Land Animal" was released from InsideOutMusic/Sony in June 2017 to rave reviews. This year Swain and Bent Knee have been nominated for Boston Music Awards in the categories of Best Female Vocalist and Alternative/Indie Artist of the Year. Swain also independently released a solo EP "Growing Pains" in November 2017, and is working on a full-length album.
Learn more: Courtney Swain | Bent Knee

 


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Boston City Singers Tour Choir*

(Jane Money, Founding Director | Kimani Lumsden, Director)

*When in Boston, Heart of the Holidays is performed with Boston City Singers Tour Choir. When in other regions, the show is performed in collaboration with local youth choirs.

Under the direction of Jane Money, Founding Artistic Director, the 42-voice Boston City Singers Tour Choir (ages 11 – 18) draws its members from across greater Boston. In extensive weekly
rehearsals, all members receive vocal coaching, language, percussion and improvisation lessons, and dance instruction enabling them to authentically perform many genres of music from diverse cultures across the world. Repertoire includes classical, world, folk music, gospel and contemporary music.
Every 2 years, the choir  travels to a country where music has played an important role in their society. Since 2011 BCS has toured the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Costa Rica and Argentina, with  invitations to perform at Festival 500 in St. Johns, Newfoundland, at the International Choral Festival in Monte Caseros, Argentina, at the American Guild of Organists National Convention, Chorus America’s 2015 National Conference, and American Choral Directors Association's Eastern Division Conference in 2016 and 2017. 
Learn more: Boston City Singers


Guy Mendilow Ensemble

Somewhere between This American Life and a top-tier world music concert, the Guy Mendilow Ensemble is "an international tour de force” (Bethlehem Morning Call) from the Middle East, South and North America. GME combines evocative, world-class music and storytelling in shows exploring pivotal moments of change — not from the vantage of our own historical hindsight, but as reflected in the day-to-day of those living through the shifts, making their choices in the moment, not knowing how the dots will ultimately connect. To gain insight into these moments, the Ensemble draws on traditional tunes, technique, and tales but in elegant arrangements and with radical reframing.

Whisking audiences to picturesque times and sweeping landscapes, conjuring voices lost to war and upheaval, GME holds a mirror to our own debates and tensions in shows  that “explode with artistry, refinement, and excitement” (Hebrew Union College), stirring deeply moving connections to struggles and dilemmas we tangle with today.



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