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Footprints to Paradise: A Medieval Christmas 2007

12/18/07 12:11PM

Bill McGlaughlin hosts this unique hour of Christmas stories and music.

New York Polyphony, an elite quartet of solo male voices, along with Los Angeles theatre director Stan Cahill and some of Broadway's most acclaimed young talent to present the Christmas story in the style of Britain's celebrated "mystery" plays.

Mystery plays are among the earliest, formally developed plays in medieval Europe. Their origin is obscure, but scholars generally agree that they developed in Christian churches from the representation of Bible stories as tableaux with accompanying song, such as the quem quaeritis, a short musical performance set at the tomb of the risen Christ. The initially simple structures were embellished with liturgical text and grew more elaborate over two or three centuries.

The plays were created by and for ordinary people and were often full of raw humor, domestic disputes and stolen animals. Building on that, the action and humor in "Footprints to Paradise" are non-stop, from shepherds dealing with a thieving housewife to Joseph telling his disbelieving neighbors why his wife is pregnant, to women armed with saucepans and ladles charging off to fight Herod.

"Footsteps to Paradise" was recorded in New York's historic St. George's Church just off of Stuyvesant Square, one of the major examples of Victorian architecture in New York City and site of one of its finest acoustical settings.


Related Links

List of VPR Holiday programming List of VPR Classical Holiday programming
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