Deep Midwinter presents the contrasts of outer cold and inner warmth, a sense of hunkering down and restiveness, scarcity and celebration, light and dark. Social Band has combed its repertoire and sent a call out to Vermont composers to tell some of the story of this beautiful, rich, yet stark season. “People respond to the cold starkness of winter by seeking and creating light, warmth, joy and celebration. Through our musical selections we strive to capture this contrast,” noted Social Band director Amity Baker.
The CD's title song - Braden Toan's "Deep Midwinter" - evokes images of the quiet cold "the forest glows white and blue in a silent gallery..." Thomas L. Read's newly composed suite entitled "Winter Fields, Woods and Air" covers 5 short tracks 10 - 14, and features the poetry of the late Vermont poet Herbert Elliott. Read's pieces take his listeners from late fall - "Tonight the maple leaves will shed, and carpet mountain roads with red," to the first snowfall and the early waning of the light to March and sugaring season - "The blood pent in the maple's heart...." Billy Drislane's "In the Deep Woods," also newly composed for this program, takes listeners into the stillness of a snowy hemlock woods, and then to dancing and singing by a warm fire.
A selection of English medieval carols bridges the moods with rhythmic and robust lines yet a spareness in the harmonies. “When the Snows Fall in Winter” describes the satisfaction that comes with being ready for winter but also the longing for summer days. A set of traditional wassails evokes a party atmosphere - “For it’s our wassail, jolly wassail! Joy come to our jolly wassail!” The old Cornish carol “Arise and Hail the Glorious Star” and William Knapp’s “Songs of the Angels at the Nativity” are songs akin to traditional Christmas carols that we hear this time of year – unrepentantly joyous.
A listen to this album brings a new joy to the season.