Arts and Entertainment

Musical celebration of the winter solstice

Kip and Stanley Greenthal - Contributed photo/ Steve Horn
Kip and Stanley Greenthal
— image credit: Contributed photo/ Steve Horn

Long-time Lopez songwriter and instrumentalist Stanley Greenthal returns to the Lopez Center for the Community and the Arts on Friday, Dec. 21, at 7:30 p.m. for an evening of songs, poetry, and music to celebrate the winter solstice.

With an exciting ensemble of musicians, he will be joined by his wife, Kip Greenthal, Celtic violinist Jamie Laval and Greek multi-instrumentalist and singer Christos Govetas, performing spirited instrumentals with traditional and original songs of the season.

Greenthal moved to Lopez as a young man over 40 years ago.

“I came here searching for something. It was during a turbulent time when many of us were seeking an alternative way of life,” he says with a laugh. “The decision to live on Lopez came suddenly – a kind of illumination, really.”

Greenthal soon met an array of islanders, some from families who had lived on Lopez since its pioneer days, and young newcomers like himself.

“The learning and friendships that have come to me here are my foundation, and source of inspiration for many of the songs and instrumentals I’ve written over time,” Greenthal says.

Once in the early 1970’s, during the dark days of winter on Lopez, Greenthal was standing in the kitchen of his 12 by 16 – foot home, beside the wood cook stove, while the wind howled up over the bedrock hill, rattling the panes in the old sash windows.

When the dark outside seemed impenetrable, he remembers hearing in his head the first few lines of his song “Winter Hymn,” and quickly sat down to capture them on paper before they disappeared.  Since then, he has sung “Winter Hymn” at each winter concert.

Since those early years on Lopez, Greenthal has been writing songs and exploring world folk music cultures, traveling widely through England, Scotland, Ireland, Brittany and Greece.

The traditional players and singers from these rich Celtic and Balkan musical heritages have profoundly influenced his music. Over the last twenty-five years, he has released five critically acclaimed recordings, including his most recent one, First Song (2011).

This past year, Greenthal’s musical experiences have been further enriched.

“In April of 2012, I was invited to perform in Australia at the Australian National Folk Festival, where Kip and I gave concerts and workshops with Luke Plumb and other members of the Scottish band Shooglenifty,” Greenthal says. “In May, Scottish fiddler Anna-Wendy Stevenson invited me to perform and teach a songwriting workshop with Kip at Lews Castle College in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides.”

These other-worldly adventures brought Greenthal and Kip together with uniquely talented musicians and created opportunities for them to learn new songs and instrumentals, some of which we’ll feature in the concert.

Greenthal has become known for stretching musical borders. He sings and plays guitar, bouzouki, laouto and lavta (Greek and Turkish lutes), and he has enticed Kip to add harmony vocals and percussion.

In addition to songs and poetry for this unique winter concert, Jamie Laval’s fiery violin playing and Christos Govetas’s hypnotic clarinet and oud will enliven Scottish pipe marches, Breton round dances, and Cretan syrtos to celebrate the longest night of the year.

Tickets are $15 adults, $6 youths 6 to 17, kids 5 and under free, and may be purchased at the Lopez Community Center office, Paper Scissors on the Rock, Blossom Organic Grocery and Lopez Book Shop. For more info visit

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