Paul Winter Consort,
Concert for the Earth:
Live at the UN

(Living Music, 1985/2001)

Paul Winter's promotion of nature through music drew the attention of the United Nations Environment Programme, impressing its members so much that, on World Environment Day, June 5, 1984, the UNEP commemorated his work with a special concert. At a general assembly also lauding the likes of astronomer Carl Sagan and naturalist David Attenborough, Winter repaid the favor of his recognition with a special performance of his music. A year later, a phenomenal concert album made it possible for anyone to share the experience.

The album begins with the rousing "Sound Over All Waters" featuring 13 members of the ever-changing Paul Winter Consort. Vocalist Susan Osborn leads the charge with stunning vocals, backed by the 90-member Back Bay Chorale from Boston, Mass. Osborn and the chorale return later with a powerful "Hymn to the Russian Earth."

The concert includes some of the "greatest hits" from preceding albums like Common Ground and Callings. Among them are live versions of "Sun Singer" and the gorgeous "Lullaby from the Great Mother Whale for the Baby Seal Pups." (OK, admittedly, the whale songs were not live at the UNEP celebration, but the rest of the tune was.)

Guitarist Jim Scott sings the poignant "Song for the Earth" and the anthem "Common Ground," and Winter himself sings the lively "Minuit" with the help of an animated backing crew. For the instrumental "Wolf Eyes," featuring recorded wolf howls, Winter convinced his audience to lift their own voices in joyous, wild wolf-like cries.

It's gratifying to Paul Winter fans to know he received this tribute from a worldwide organization dedicated to preserving the environment he strives to immortalize through music. That he repaid it so well with this concert, as well as royalties from album sales, makes it even more satisfying. Concert for the Earth is an excellent way to experience, in some small way, the excitement of that event.

[ by Tom Knapp ]

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