Begin the midwinter season with Nowell Sing We Clear and their rousing holiday pageant of carols, stories, and a mummer’s play drawn primarily from English-language folk traditions at the Friday, December 20th concert of the Princeton Folk Music Society. The concert will be at Christ Congregation Church, 50 Walnut Lane, in Princeton at 8:15 PM.
Nowell joyously celebrates the season with religious- and pagan-inspired songs and stories from centuries-old British and North American traditions. Their program recounts the events and characters involved in the Christmas story and details the customs and rituals which make up the twelve magical days following the return of the light at the winter solstice. Many of these ancient customs live on in today's holiday traditions of visiting and feasting, gift-giving, carol singing from door-to-door, and decorating houses and churches with garlands of evergreen.
The pageant includes an adaptation of a 1920s Kentucky mummers play, a folk drama that portrays the death of the land at midwinter and its rebirth in spring. Mummers in disguises visited peoples’ homes and entertained their hosts with silent plays. Over time, rhyming and comical words were introduced, as seen in Nowell’s mummers play.
Most of the songs in the program are unaccompanied, but some include the energetic dance band sound of fiddle, button accordion, electric piano, drums, and concertina. The pageant of song and story presented in Nowell’s strong, blended voices counteracts winter darkness and looks ahead to longer, brighter days and the green of spring.
“You can’t leave a performance without a big smile on your face,” says one enthusiast. “It’s not just the excellent performers. It’s the enjoyment that comes from singing seasonal songs in harmony as part of this larger folk music community. It’s the sense of connection with something bigger and older and more mysterious – of continuity with traditions that have been alive for centuries. To me, it just wouldn’t be the Solstice season without this tradition.”
Songsheets enable the audience to participate, though after three decades of touring the northeast, a whole generation has grown up knowing the lyrics and ready to sing. New songs appear in the mummers play every year, often containing topical or political references.
Nowell’s members John Roberts and Tony Barrand are widely known for their lively presentations of English folk songs, and Fred Breunig and Andy Davis are well-known dance callers and musicians.
SPECIAL EVENT – ADVANCE TICKET SALES ONLY - $25 Nonmembers, $20 Members. Mail checks payable to PFMS to S. White, 111 Silver Tail Lane, New Hope PA 18938. Doors open at 7:30 PM and the show starts at 8:15 PM. There is ample free parking available. For more information about this and other Folk Music Society events, please call 609-799-0944.
View the web page of Nowell Sing We Clear
The Princeton Folk Music Society has encouraged the growth of folk music in central New Jersey for 40 years. We sponsor a monthly house sing for members on the first Friday of each month and a monthly concert by visiting folk singers and songwriters, usually on the third Friday of each month. Non-members are welcome to attend our monthly concerts - we hope to see you at the next one!
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View a Welcome Message from our President.
Unless otherwise noted, the monthly concerts are held at Christ Congregation Church, 50 Walnut Lane, Princeton, NJ (at Houghton Road & across from Princeton High School - see map).
From Route 1: Take Washington Road (Rte 571) into Princeton and cross Nassau Street. When road ends in a "T" turn right onto Wiggins. At fourth left, turn left onto Walnut Lane (to the right the street name is Chestnut). Proceed about two blocks to the church on the left, and turn left onto Houghton for parking, which is plentiful.
Unless otherwise noted, concerts start at 8:15 pm. Coffee and desserts are served during the intermission. These concerts are a wonderful way to hear your favorite folk musicians or to hear new singer-songwriters and singers of traditional music, all in an intimate, friendly setting. In addition, house concerts are occasionally held in members' homes.
Concert admission for most shows is $20 for non-members, $15 for members, $10 for students aged 12 - 22, and $5 for children eleven years of age and under. Tickets for most shows are not available in advance - they are sold at the door starting about 40 minutes before the performance.
Besides a reduction in concert admission fees, members also receive a monthly newsletter which highlights the performers and area events. Another benefit of membership is that you can attend the monthly sings. You can become a member at any concert or send your membership fees to the address below.
Address, phone number, and email address changes for current members should be sent to Membership