River Singers to perform benefit holiday concert

PUTNEY — The River Singers Community Choir, led by the dynamic Mary Cay Brass, will hold its annual holiday concerts on Saturday, Dec. 14, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 15, at 4 p.m., at Next Stage Arts in Putney.

The River Singers are a unique, multi-generational choir known for its eclectic mix of music from diverse cultural musical heritages.

The choir will present a cornucopia of “thrilling, soulful songs of joy, love, and peace” beginning with a Croatian New Year's carol and moving right into a lively dance song, Moja Diri Dika, accompanied by their own village band with director Brass on accordion, Mary Lea on fiddle, and Matt Sharff on bass, according to a news release.

Moving on to the British Isles and the West Gallery village hymn tradition, the choir will sing the rousing West Gallery song Arise and Hail the Joyful Day and the traditional Derwent Wassail.

From there the choir moves to a joyous Hebrew song from the singing of the Zamir ensemble called Al Hanissim.

The River Singers are committed to presenting, in song, visions of social justice. This session will focus on a set of three songs from South Africa including the new composition by Bongani Magatyana called Mandela.

The choir will also present a song by Vermont musician Avery Book, I Wanna Be Ready For Change to Come, inspired by the African American spiritual, I Wanna Die Easy When I Die, an adaptation consistent with the way in which many old religious songs have been adapted to new movement contexts with a vision for social justice.

River Singer's smaller ensemble will also present a short set of songs - the Georgian song Heya Moli, Vermont composer Pete Sutherland's Fiddlers Hymn, a Swedish sea chantey, and a South African dance song.

Every River Singers concert is a benefit for a local or global peace initiative. This year's concert is for the Community Asylum Seekers Project. Based in Southern Vermont, CASP's mission is to provide basic needs and supportive community for those in the process of seeking asylum in the U.S.

Admission is $15, with children under 12 free. All tickets will be sold at the door only, cash or checks accepted. In honor of this benefit, the choir will sing a Spanish threshing song, Segaba La Niña.

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