In a dramatic first for the Key West Literary Seminar, opening night of “How the Light Gets In: Literature of the Spirit” (January 8-11, 2015) will feature a marquee musical performance by the Paul Winter Consort. Following a brief keynote address by Pico Iyer, the Consort will take the stage for a performance of “Unbridled Joy,” a unique musical-literary performance that will incorporate the voices of poets including Mark Doty, Jane Hirshfield, and Marie Howe, among others.
The name “consort” is borrowed from the ensembles of William Shakespeare’s time—the house-bands of the Elizabethan Theater that adventurously blended woodwinds, strings, and percussion, the same families of instruments that saxophonist Paul Winter combines in his contemporary consort. The Consort emerged from Winter’s 1960s-era jazz sextet which, at the invitation of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, had played the first-ever jazz concert at the White House.
Today, Winter is the winner of seven Grammy awards. Since 1980, he and the Consort have been artists-in-residence at New York’s St. John the Divine Cathedral, where they have presented over 100 special events, including annual Winter and Summer Solstice Celebrations, Carnival for the Rainforest, and their ecological mass, Missa Gaia/Earth Mass, which is performed annually each October as part of the Feast of St. Francis.
The Consort has also collaborated with many of the outstanding poets of our time, beginning from their 1980 collaboration with Gary Snyder, Turtle Island, in which their improvisations were integrated with the narrated poems. For twenty-five years, the Consort was the “house band” at the biennial Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival. In Key West, Winter’s ensemble will be composed of cellist Eugene Friesen, percussionist Jamey Haddad, and pianist Paul Sullivan. They will be joined on stage by poets Coleman Barks, Billy Collins, Mark Doty, Patricia Hampl, Jane Hirshfield, Marie Howe, Marilyn Nelson, and Mary Rose O’Reilley.