Because so many potential audience members were turned away from last year’s sold-out premiere of The Longest Night, OZ Arts Nashville is bringing back this unique, multidisciplinary celebration of the winter solstice for three performances this year.
The Longest Night will take place on the actual longest nights of the year—December 20 and 21—bringing together a variety of Nashville-area artists for this celebration. The Longest Night is part of OZ Arts’ ambitious series of productions by local artists, directed by Jason Shelton and featuring the groundbreaking Portara Ensemble, bassist Victor Wooten, saxophonist Jeff Coffin, poet Ciona Rouse, and dozens of Nashville-based artists, musicians, and dancers.
Jason Shelton, who has helped guide Portara Ensemble from the start—first as assistant director and then artistic director—has long been recognized for his unique collaborative endeavors. The Longest Night is the latest in an evolving journey. This celebration of the winter solstice brings together more than 40 Nashville-based artists, musicians, and dancers.
The show is a result of a unique cross-disciplinary collaboration between choral powerhouse Portara Ensemble (directed by Shelton), famed saxophonist Jeff Coffin (Dave Matthews Band, Béla Fleck and the Flecktones), acclaimed poet Ciona Rouse (Vantablack), and Lisa Spradley’s Epiphany Dance Partners, and features world-class guest performers including multiple Grammy award-winning bassist Victor Wooten (Béla Fleck and the Flecktones), percussionist Roy “Futureman” Wooten (Béla Fleck and the Flecktones), pianist Pat Coil, vocalist Marcela Pinilla, and storyteller Rabbi Rami Shapiro.
“It has been a long-time dream of mine to create an artistic experience that showcases the incredibly diverse talents of this city—not just music, but poetry and dance and so much more,” says Portara Ensemble Artistic Director Jason Shelton. “Working with this team of collaborators has been a dream come true, and having so many incredible guests lined up to celebrate with us just makes it all the richer. We’re so grateful to OZ Arts for taking the risk on this show last year, and for inviting us back—bigger and better, and for three shows!”
The voices of Portara Ensemble weave throughout the show, which includes a mix of original music written for The Longest Night by Shelton and Coffin alongside seasonal favorites. Rouse serves as narrative guide while Epiphany’s dancers grace an enchanting tale that introduces us to a host of local artists who explore the wisdom of the darkness and celebrate the return of the light.
The Longest Night will be performed at OZ Arts Nashville on Dec. 20 at 8pm, and on Dec. 21 at 2pm and 8pm. This multi-community holiday celebration is appropriate for all ages. Tickets are $25 at ozartsnashville.org.
Since opening in 2014, OZ Arts Nashville, a 501(c)(3) contemporary arts center, has changed the cultural landscape of the city. Housed in the former C.A.O. cigar warehouse owned by Nashville’s Ozgener family, OZ Arts, under the artistic leadership of Mark Murphy, brings world-class performances and art installations to the city, and gives ambitious local artists opportunities to work on a grand scale.