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The Tidings: A Christmas Concert for Those Who Grieve

Tickets starting at $20.00 Buy Tickets


Tuesday, December 21
7:30 pm
Doors Open:
12/21/21 6:30 pm
Event Category:


The Cabot
286 Cabot Street
Beverly, MA 01915 United States

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The Tidings invites us into a deeper, more authentic experience of Christmas.

On Tuesday, December 21 at 7:30 pm, The Cabot will present the first concert performance of The Tidings. Composer and pianist Paul Van Ness is joined by soprano Megan DeFranza Shannon, cellist Marshunda Smith, and the Tidings Singers: Victoria Dandridge, Alex Edwards, Andrew Hankinson, Daniel Machado, Gretchen MacKilligan, Thomas Smoker, and Tiffany Wilson. The concert will be filmed to create a music documentary for presentation on PBS stations in December 2022.

Celebrations of Christmas are rarely simple. In this particular season of grief, both personal and global, tidings of comfort, joy, and peace can feel like empty — or broken — promises. Even when our lives feel calm and blessed, we miss those who are no longer present around the table or the tree.

In the original account, the angelic announcement is followed by a horrific narrative of a political leader so desperate to hold onto power he orders the murder of baby boys. To save the Christ child, Mary and Joseph flee to Egypt where they live as refugees in a foreign land.

While most nativity plays skip over these traumatic events, composer Paul Van Ness finds that looking more courageously at the first Christmas story gives us permission to be more honest about the challenges in our own lives.

“Somehow it’s comforting to reflect on this part of the story,” Van Ness explains, “especially when personal losses or global tragedies make it seem impossible for us to celebrate the holiday. The message of The Tidings is that the Christmas story can bring comfort and joy no matter how devastating our circumstances.”

Soprano Megan DeFranza Shannon first learned of The Tidings after losing her mother to cancer.  “The music helped me start to process my grief and begin healing… begin singing again.” Cellist Marshunda Smith stresses the importance of coming together as a community in this particular season. “The message of The Tidings is timely.”

If you feel unable to generate Christmas cheer in the face of global and personal grief, join us in rediscovering the true tidings of comfort and joy, by focusing on the unsung verses of the first Christmas story.

Audience praise for The Tidings:

“Poetic and powerful, and filled with hope.”

“The Tidings conveys a message we need right now.”

“The most meaningful Christmas event I’ve ever experienced.”

“After hearing this music, for the first time in my life, I felt like I could be my whole self at Christmas.”