HANOVER, NH—This year’s Christmas Revels travels to the beautiful province of Québec in a magical, mischievous French Canadian tale embellished with traditional music, dance, storytelling and tomfoolery, December 15-18 at Hopkins Center for the Arts, Hanover NH.
In the story of The Flying Canoe (la chasse-galerie), a group of lonely voyageurs in the northern timberland go to extraordinary (one might say devilish) lengths to meet up with their faraway sweethearts on New Year’s Eve. This traditional tale gets the full Revels treatment with colorful, high-energy songs, dance and pageantry, a multi-generational local cast and chorus, and guest artists steeped in the traditions: Québécois musical trio Genticorum and step dancer and choreographer extraordinaire Pierre Chartrand.
Now in its 42nd season, The Christmas Revels is a show of music, dance, storytelling and pageantry that each year focuses on a different one of the world’s cultures and its winter holiday traditions. A talented local chorus of dozens of children, teens and adults are joined by guest performers expert in the traditions represented in that year’s show. Recent shows have focused on Appalachia, Irish-American immigrants, Elizabethan England and Scottish culture.
This year’s guest musical group Genticorum has become, over the past 15 years, a fixture on the international world, trad, folk and Celtic music circuit. Infusing traditional music with the dynamism of modern performance, they weave precise and intricate fiddle and flute work, gorgeous vocal harmonies, energetic foot percussion and guitar and bass accompaniment, enhancing their distinctive sound with abundant humor and stage presence. The trio’s five albums have met with critical acclaim in Canada, the United States and Europe, and the group has given more than 800 concerts in more than 15 countries. Writes the music journal Sing Out!, “For a three-piece, Genticorum makes a very full and glorious noise, both instrumentally and vocally…This is a band that’s going to go places.”
Guest dancer Pierre Chartrand is recognized, both at home in Québec and abroad, as a master dancer, choreographer, dance caller and teacher. A professional since 1971, he has performed solo or in groups at festivals across the US and Canada. He was the co-winner of a 1997 traditional dance medal at the Jeux de la Francophonie in Madagascar. In 2005, he won the Best Choreography Award by the Independent Reviewers of New England for his choreography and solo dancing in the Québécois Christmas Revels that he co-created with the Cambridge, MA, Revels—which subsequently was performed by the Revels companies in Houston, San Francisco, Washington and, in 2010, in Hanover. In 2008, he received a grant from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec to collect folk dances in rural Québec and Acadia. Upper Valley audiences known him as a frequent headliner at the annual New World Festival in Randolph, VT. He and his wife Anne-Marie Gardette are the founders of Danse Cadence, an organization dedicated to traditional dance.
This year’s show is the first under the leadership of Nils Fredland, the new artistic director of the Christmas Revels and its parent organization, Revels North. Fredland served in last year’s Christmas Revels as music director under Maureen Burford, the previous Christmas Revels/Revels North artistic director. A graduate of the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, Fredland is an engaging and charismatic community builder who has been bringing people together through traditional dance, music, song and story for almost 20 years. He is an internationally renowned contra and square dance caller, and a classically trained trombonist and singer adept at performing in many different styles. In addition to keeping a full-time touring schedule in the field of traditional dance, music and song for the last 15 years, Fredland also brings experience in public speaking, choral conducting, traditional song and dance camp directing, curriculum development, and project management. He is a published author and editor of two books on traditional singing squares, and widely regarded as being a leader in the effort to keep this unique tradition alive and growing. In addition to his position with Revels North, he works as a project manager and education specialist with the Country Dance and Song Society in Easthampton, MA, and also is the music teacher at the Newton School in South Strafford, VT.
Founded in 1974, Revels North is a grassroots community arts nonprofit organization that has called Hanover its home for over 40 years. Revels North has provides over 11,000 individuals in the community the opportunity to connect in meaningful ways as we bring traditions to life through music, dance, song and theater, in programs throughout the year. The organization relies on varied funding streams to deliver programs of the highest quality to the Upper Valley.
Leading up to the Christmas Revels shows are a number of public events, many of them free, aiming to share French Canadian culture:
Revels North Seasonal Pub Sing, Sunday, November 20, 6-8 pm, Norwich Inn, VT
Come to the Norwich Inn for a fun and casual evening of song and merriment! Bring the whole family, and come ready to make new friends as we share song. Songbooks will be available for everyone to join in; if you have a favorite song, share it with us! Grab a bite to eat (before we begin) and maybe a pint or two at the Inn while enjoying the company of people who love to sing for fun. Admission by donation. Information: firstname.lastname@example.org or 866.556.3083.
Tree Lighting and Revels North Carol Sing, Friday, December 2, 5-6:30 pm, various locations, Hanover, NH; free
Join Revels North in song as we sing carols at the Tree Lighting.
3:45 pm: Community members who want to sing with us, meet in the Top of the Hop, Hopkins Center
5-5:30 pm: Singing and Tree Lighting on the Dartmouth Green (cookies and hot chocolate served)
5:30-6 pm: Singing down Main Street to The Skinny Pancake, Lebanon Street.
6-6:30 pm: Celebrate the Season at The Skinny Pancake