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Participatory Music Experience Is Free and Open to the Public

Colby College in Waterville will present a free performance by Paul Winter and The Earth Band on Sunday, April 24, at 4 p.m. in the Alfond Athletic Center field house. The ensemble will present “The World Tree Event” as part of Colby’s celebration of Earth Week. The event is open to the public free of charge, and tickets are not required.

Paul Winter, the winner of four Grammy awards, created The World Tree as a participatory music experience celebrating the entire community of life on Earth. The interactive event will feature dancers, singers from the Colby Chorale, audience participation, and Winter’s unique instrumental music. The Earth Band features Winter, Eugene Friesen, Paul Sullivan, Valerie Dee Narnajo, Barry Olsen, Chris Berry, Lucky Moyo, and Richard Cooke. Instruments include soprano sax, cello, mbira (African thumb-piano), Zimbabwe bass marimbas, keyboards, African drums, and a galaxy of percussion instruments from around the world, including a seven-foot sun gong.

The unique performance environment has the musicians on a ring of eight stages encircling the audience, with a central stage and a 22-foot-tall spiral “tree of sounds” hung with bells, gongs, and chimes symbolizing the diversity of life on Earth. The African-American dance troupe Forces of Nature and costumed actor Rob Faust perform around the base of the tree, and dancers and animal figures move among the audience. There are no chairs in the performance area, though there will be limited seating around the periphery for those wishing to rest.

The goal, Winter says, is a new relationship between audience and performers. “As much as I have loved and still love playing concert halls, I often have felt they created a kind of ‘us-and-them’ dichotomy between the performers and the audience,” he said.

Winter and his ensembles — The Paul Winter Consort, Living Music, and The Earth Band — have performed more than 3,000 concerts in 37 countries, recorded 35 albums, and made music in wilderness areas on six continents. His work has included voices of wolves, whales, eagles, and many other species of what he calls “wilderness musicians.”

The Colby event will be Winter’s last U.S. performance before he leaves for tour of Japan.