Rufus & Martha Wainwright's NOEL NIGHTS Returns To New York City
The legendary Rufus and Martha Wainwright Christmas show, "Noel Nights," is returning to New York City after a four-year hiatus. Featuring three generations of the Wainwright and McGarrigle families, along with many other special guests, this annual holiday extravaganza will bring the Christmas spirit to Town Hall on Sunday, December 16th.
First performed in 2005, the special show acts in turn as part concert and part family reunion, often enlisting friends and family as guest stars. This year will include performances by Sufjan Stevens, Joan As Policewoman, and Martha Plimpton alongside regulars Emmylou Harris, Loudon Wainwright III, Teddy Thompson, Sloan Wainwright, and Lucy Wainwright Roche. The show was created and inspired by legendary musician and songwriter, Kate McGarrigle. Kate turned the show into a benefit after she was diagnosed with sarcoma in 2006. After Kate's death in 2010, the family revived the annual benefit Christmas show tradition. This year's show will benefit Stand Up To Cancer through its Stand Up To Cancer Kate McGarrigle Fund, which recently named Martha and Rufus as Ambassadors. The SU2C Kate McGarrigle Fund is a new collaborative program from Stand Up To Cancer and the Kate McGarrigle Foundation that aims to provide music therapy resources to cancer patients with a passion for music, as well as much-needed funds for sarcoma research. The program will launch in the coming months, and information on how the public can get involved and donate will be made available.
Of the concert, Wainwright said "Let us once again celebrate light and love in these dark times. And of course, always important: let us celebrate nutty outfits! Music ain't too bad either."
Described by the New York Times as "a typical Christmas-time family gathering - motley, convivial, multigenerational, jokey, affectionate and tinged with both skepticism and faith,"' the show has taken place in New York, Los Angeles, Nashville, San Francisco, Montreal and London, and featured everyone from the late Lou Reed, Jimmy Fallon, Mark Ronson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Sean Lennon, Justin Vivian Bond, Boy George, and Laurie Anderson.
Rufus Wainwright, one of the great male vocalists, songwriters and composers of his generation, has released eight studio albums, three DVDs, and three live albums. He has collaborated with artists ranging from Elton John, David Byrne, Mark Ronson, Joni Mitchell to Burt Bacharach. At the age of 14 he was named Canada's best young musician and later received the Juno Award for Best Alternative Album. His album, "Rufus Does Judy" recorded at Carnegie Hall in 2006, was nominated for a Grammy. In 2018, Rufus won for his contribution to the "Tony Bennett Celebrates 90" album in the best traditional pop vocal album category.
His acclaimed first opera, Prima Donna, premiered at the Manchester International Festival in July 2009 and has since been presented in London, Toronto and BAM in New York. In 2010, Wainwright was commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony to compose and interpret "Five Shakespeare Sonnets," a five-movement song cycle that sets Shakespeare's "Sonnets" to orchestra and voice. They have since been performed worldwide by orchestras including the Chicago and Montreal Symphonies.
In 2010, he was the first artist to complete a five-concert residency at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London. In September 2014, he made his debut with the London Proms at Royal Albert Hall and performed at the Last Night of Proms in the Park.
Other recent achievements include the 2012 world premiere of Sing Me The Songs That Say I Love You: A Concert for Kate McGarrigle, the feature length music documentary that captured the May 2011 tribute concert honoring Rufus' late mother, the legendary Kate McGarrigle. In 2013, he sang for Billy Joel at the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington. In September 2015, the Deutsche Grammophon released a double CD recording of Prima Donna with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
Rufus' latest recording, Take All My Loves: 9 Shakespeare Sonnets, was released on April 22, 2016 on Deutsche Grammophon to critical acclaim. Shortly thereafter, a decade after his celebrated, iconic performances marked a career highlight, Rufus paid tribute once again to the "greatest night in show business" by revisiting Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall, an epic recreation of Judy Garland's 1961 comeback concert, over two much celebrated nights in June 2016, followed by a restaging at the famed Luminato Festival in Toronto.
Most recently, Rufus celebrated the 150th Anniversary of Canada with a special show titled, Northern Stars - an evening of curated songs by Canadian artists such as Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Leonard Cohen, among others. He will also embark on a North American All These Poses Tour this November to commemorate the 20-year anniversary of his eponymous debut, which first burst him onto the music scene. The tour will come on the heels of the highly anticipated debut of his second opera, Hadrian, set to premiere on October 13th at the Canadian Opera Company (Toronto).