News Release – Winter Solstice Revels

Washington Revels: Community. Tradition. Celebration!

Including Release, Photos & Videos

For Immediate Release

Washington Revels Caps Virtual “Season of Reveling with Winter Solstice Revels

Glen Echo, MD, December 8, 2020 – In December, Washington Revels would normally be in the final stretch of preparations for its annual Christmas Revels production — but in the face of COVID restrictions on live theatre, this longstanding DC performance community has turned adversity into opportunity with an ambitious virtual “Season of Reveling” that celebrates fall holidays at home.

For 37 years, Washington Revels has drawn 10,000 Washingtonians annually to GW Lisner Auditorium for The Christmas Revels, a fully staged celebration of the Winter Solstice. So, when the 38th annual production had to be canceled, Revels adapted to the moment, applying the interactive digital programming it honed early in the pandemic to expand the scope of its fall production. The resulting four-month series, “A Season of Reveling,” created a platform to share how friends and neighbors are marking important fall holidays from many traditions and cultures while at home.

From Autumnal Equinox in September to the upcoming Winter Solstice Revels on December 20, “A Season of Reveling” has spotlighted community features on: the Jewish High Holidays and Sukkot; the Japanese Tsukimi Harvest Moon Festival; a virtual Maryland Emancipation Day performance; and the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos. Signature live and pre-recorded events and performances have included a klezmer concert for Simchat Torah, a rousing Oktoberfest Pub Sing, and a special video performance for Mawlid an Nabawi (The Prophet’s Birthday).

“Since we can’t be together in a theater, we chose our theme for ‘A Season of Reveling’ as ‘Hearth & Home,’ both literally and figuratively,” says Artistic Director Roberta Gasbarre. “We want to celebrate how families create traditions to mark the holidays and events throughout the year, as we always do, but this year creating our circle of Reveling in a virtual world. In some ways, this has allowed us to open up our creative process to a wider group of our Revels community through events like ‘Jubilee July,’ the Daily Antidote of Song, the ‘Revels Book of Days,’ and, now, with a brand-new Winter Solstice Revels. In a wonderful way, Revels is amplifying traditions that we would never have time to touch on during the busy run-up to The Christmas Revels, and this is empowering our community to bring forward aspects of their lives and cultures that have always made Washington Revels so vibrant, but that might never have fit within the frame of that production.”

For Reveler Mari Parker, the experience was indeed a powerful one: “When I was asked to share Tsukimi, or Harvest Moon Viewing, with the Revels community, I had no idea what I was getting into but I was enthusiastic about sharing one of my favorite childhood traditions. The excitement of preparing the Tsukimi project played a huge part in bringing together and uniting the three generations of our family, who happened to be sheltering together at the time of the project, into one spirit. Around the world, the role of traditional celebrations has been to share joy and knit families and communities closer together, but I had never felt it as strongly as I did this time, when I shared Tsukimi from my childhood in Japan with my own family here in America and then with the Revels Community.”

The highlight of “A Season of Reveling” is the Winter Solstice Revels on December 20th at 7 PM. This live seasonal event will bring treasured traditions from the past 37 Christmas Revels online with carols and Revels singalongs, performances by the virtual Adult, Teen and Children’s Choruses, the cheerful sound of the Washington Revels Brass, and a stunning rendition of the spiritual “My Lord, What a Mornin’” by the Washington Revels Jubilee Voices.

Guest performances on December 20 include a 2020 winter play by multi-time Helen Hayes Award-recipients — and longtime Washington Revels friends — Happenstance Theater, and the mysterious and ancient Abbots Bromley Horn Dance, brought to life by the Rock Creek Morris and Foggy Bottom Morris Dancers.

“Season of Reveling” events leading up to the Winter Solstice Revels include a live Chanukkiah (menorah) lighting series from December 10-17, and a Sankta Lucia Festival on December 13 featuring children from Revels’ virtual workshops with local Scandinavian music specialists Andrea Hoag, Loretta Kelly and Charlie Pilzer.

Founded in 1983, Washington Revels is a multi-generational performing arts community of professionals and nonprofessionals that presents traditional music, dance, storytelling, and drama in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. It includes four performing ensembles — Gallery Voices, Heritage Voices, Jubilee Voices, and Maritime Voices — and produces after-school workshops, community participation events like the virtual Daily Antidote of Song, service events, and performances year round, including May Revels each spring and The Christmas Revels each December

 More Information:

Winter Solstice Revels
Premieres Sunday, December 20 at 7:00 PM, with on-demand access from Dec. 23-Jan. 6
On-demand access can be bought thru Jan. 6

A Season of Reveling
Fall Holidays from Many Traditions
Virtual Concerts, Videos & Activities

Winter Solstice Revels tickets allow households to watch and participate on a shared device and include post-event access through January 6 (Twelfth Night): perfect for those who can’t attend on December 20th, or who want to relive the joyful experience over the holiday season. On-demand access is also available for purchase anytime after the live premiere on December 20 through January 6.

Washington Revels is supported in part by funding from the Montgomery County Government and the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County and in part by the Maryland State Arts Council (

Press Contact: Ross Wixon, Administrating Director / / (202) 253-0449

Story Resources: Photos & Videos

Winter Solstice Revels Photos

Happenstance Theater are special guests in a 2020 winter play!

Rock Creek Morris and Foggy Bottom Morris perform the haunting Abbots Bromley Horn Dance.

Members of Rock Creek Morris in “Lord of the Dance,” a Washington Revels tradition for nearly 40 years.

More ‘Season of Reveling’ Photos

Tradition bearer Shizumi Shigeto Manale recites a poem for Tsukimi.

Revelers share a time-lapse video of building a sukkah for the Jewish harvest holiday Sukkot.

The virtual Sankta Lucia Festival premieres on Facebook on December 13.

Selected ‘Season of Reveling’ Videos

November 2 – Dia de los Muertos

Reveler Lisa Grosh returns in her second video with an introduction to the Mexican “Day of the Dead” holiday. Lisa also takes a few minutes to share her family’s beautifully decorated altar with us, and to explain who they chose to remember this year and what offerings they selected.

November 1 – Maryland Emancipation Day

The Washington Revels Jubilee Voices presents a virtual performance celebrating the day that enslaved African Americans living in Maryland were freed! Director Andrea Jones Blackford and ensemble member David Fakunle provide commentary on the history and meaning of Emancipation Day, both nationally and in Maryland.

October 1 – Tsukimi Harvest Moon Festival

Reveler Mari Parker shares the Tsukimi traditions she learned as a child in Tokyo, and has now passed on to her son and grandson! Learn how they prepare to honor the Harvest Moon with food and crafts.

September 22 – Autumnal Equinox

Enjoy this beautiful video performance of “Emerald Stream” by composer Seth Houston, featuring singers from the Washington Revels Chorus led by Revels Music Director Betsy Fulford. Inspired by the New England shape-note tradition, “Emerald Stream” was featured in our 2006 “Early American” Christmas Revels and appears on our 2013 CD “Sing and Rejoice.”

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