Holiday music — you either love it or hate it, but if your sentiments run towards the former, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the sounds of the season on the Vineyard in the next couple of weeks.
The Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse will once again host the Boston-based Wintery Songs in Eleventy Part Harmony. The concert, presented collaboratively by the Playhouse and MVY Radio, will feature a supergroup of female folk artists from the Boston area, performing unique arrangements of holiday and winter-themed songs, as well as some original tunes.
The group, which was organized eight years ago by Jennifer Kimball, who’s a former member of the folk group the Story and an accomplished solo artist, describe themselves as performing “a modern reinvention of the holiday soundtrack with equal parts reverence and irreverence, from sacred to pop to versions of songs that we hear this time of year.”
Every holiday season, the group plays around the Boston area, at Club Passim and other venues. In 2015 they released a CD called “Hark!” Last year’s concert at the Playhouse sold out, encouraging MVY’s Barbara Dacey and Playhouse artistic director MJ Bruder Munafo to bring the group back for an encore.
“With a movable cast of great musicians, I knew that Vineyard audiences would love it,” says Ms. Dacey. “They are all very accomplished musicians. There’s a cellist, two violinists, keyboards, guitars, and they all sing. It’s a very full sound — folk with a lot of strings.”
Ms. Dacey has been a fan of Ms. Kimball’s since her days with the Story, and has played her solo music and welcomed her as a guest on the radio station a number of times. She was excited to have the opportunity to host the all-female outfit at the Playhouse last year. “It’s kind of a dream come true for any musicians to be able to be in that space,” she says. “It’s absolutely perfect for this type of concert.”
The Wintery Songs website describes their repertoire as including songs “from Sinatra to Tchaikovsky, Isaac Watts to Ana Egge, this beautifully eclectic mix of sacred and secular music inspires a reinvention of the holiday experience; one where minor keys are as familiar as major.” But don’t expect anything too serious, the group is famous for having a lot of fun on stage.
Wintery Songs in Eleventy Part Harmony, featuring Roze Polenzani, Jennifer Kimball, Deni Hlavinka, Hannah Read, Valerie Thompson, and Mariel Vandersteel is on Sunday, Dec. 17, at 7 pm. Tickets are $40/$35 seniors/$30 under age 30. Net proceeds benefit Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse and Friends of MVY Radio.
On Saturday, Dec. 16, at 1 pm, the Vineyard Haven Band offers a special treat. In celebration of their 150th anniversary, the multi-instrument band that performs outdoors every Sunday in the summer will be entertaining strollers on Main Street in Vineyard Haven with a special holiday concert. With this concert, the band is launching an initiative to increase awareness of the unit that was begun in the 19th century as a collaboration between Union and Confederate soldiers, and to continue that democratic approach by encouraging any and all Island musicians to get involved. Music will be available in advance. If you would like to join them with your instrument, email firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible. And to help warm up on Saturday, drop by Mansion House for a postconcert party with hot cider and refreshments.
The All-Island Band Winter Concert is Thursday, Dec. 14, at 7 pm at the Performing Arts Center. The concert will feature the A and B Bands Island-wide, with conductors Kelly Sullivan, Ruth Chapman, and Zachary Tileston.
A holiday tradition, a performance of Handel’s “Messiah,” Part I, will be repeated this year at the Old Whaling Church as the Grace Church choir and the Messiah chorus and soloists come together to lift their voices to tell the story of the prophecy, the annunciation, and the birth of Christ. Wes Nagy will conduct. The performance is Saturday, Dec. 16, at 8 pm. Old Whaling Church. Suggested donation is $15, but no one will be turned away.
Need a break from “Jingle Bells”? The West Tisbury library hosts a free performance of a quartet of Boston jazz musicians (including a vocalist) for a program called “Concert of Sacred Music.” The concert is described as “an exploratory voyage into the sacred soundscapes of jazz improvisation and soul song,” and will feature accomplished jazz artists Stan Strickland on sax, flute and vocals, Josh Rosen on piano, Akili Jamal Haynes on bass, and Greta Bro on vocals. The quartet plays Sunday, Dec. 17, at 3:30 pm.
Mixing things up a bit, the Chilmark Community Church will offer a program called “Offering of Music and Light,” which will include Island artists and musicians presenting a variety of performances in song, dance, and story. The program will also feature candle lighting and refreshments. The free program is on Sunday, Dec. 17, at 5 pm at the church.
On Sunday, Dec. 17, at 5 pm the M.V. Hebrew Center hosts a special community sing and winter concert featuring “Songs of Peace, Hope, and Light” with the Martha’s Vineyard Family Chorus directed by Roberta Kirn. Included in the program will be a chant in Sanskrit, and songs from South Africa, Zambia, Nigeria, Haiti, and the U.S. Donations will benefit Ms. Kirn’s initiative the Song Exchange Project, which helps Ms. Kirn to travel, teach, and collect songs that she shares around the world. Donations accepted.
Want to spread a little joy yourself this year? Join other community members at Windemere on Christmas Day for caroling and visits with residents. What better gift to give? Annual Christmas Day singing at Windemere at the M.V. Hospital begins at 3:15 pm at the main floor recreation room. Music is provided. Call Niki Patton at 508-693-4307 if you’d like to bring an instrument and join in.