Producing the show . . .
The Infinite Dark is available as a 60-75-minute continuous program and as a 90-minute show with an intermission. Both are suitable for young adult and adult audiences. The first set references Scots and Irish folklore and Selkie legends, focusing on elemental creatures of fire, water, air and earth. The second set pulls from European folklore traditions. Shorter shows combine these traditions.
Based largely on Jane Yolen’s poetry, the show features the poet herself reciting up to 20 pieces. Other of her verses have been set to music by Lui Collins, Max Cohen and Donna Hébert. Their 3 ravens trio adds original and traditional songs and tunes to complete the program.
The Infinite Dark is available with the quintet, which includes singer and bassist Molly Hebert-Wilson, and also as a quartet without Molly for smaller venues. Staging requirements are available on request. Talk to Jane or Donna about shows for colleges that include poetry and songwriting workshops.
Also a poet, a teacher of writing and literature with six honorary doctorates, and a reviewer of children’s literature, Yolen was the first writer to win the New England Public Radio’s Arts and Humanities Award. In 2017, she was named a Grandmaster of Science Fiction and Fantasy by the Science Fiction Writers of America. Jane has been called the Hans Christian Andersen of America and the Aesop of the twentieth century.
Jane Yolen’s books and stories have won the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, two Christopher Medals, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards, the Golden Kite Award, the Jewish Book Award, the World Fantasy Association
Folk singer/songwriter Lui Collins has been on the
scene for over 40 years, earning international acclaim for
her music. Lui ranges from original and traditional folk to bossa nova in the original Brazilian Portuguese, with 16 recordings to her credit. She’s shared a stage with Tom Rush, Bonnie Raitt, Dave Van Ronk, Stan Rogers, John Gorka, and Anais Mitchell, and has recorded with Johnny Cunningham, David Darling, and Rani Arbo.
Lui was hailed by the Boston Herald as a “folksinger for our times” and by the Boston Globe as “one of New England’s first and brightest stars.” Guitarist Dave van Ronk called her “one of the best guitarist-arrangers I have heard in years.” And Canadian folk icon Stan Rogers quipped, “Lui sings my songs better than I do.”
Max Cohen’s natural humility hides an amazing talent. An accomplished guitarist, Max balances tremendous sensitivity with driving rhythmic power. As an accompanist, “He’s as trustworthy as they come,” says fiddler and music partner Donna Hébert. Their co-written air, Raven’s Wing, is in the Séamus Connolly Collection ofIrish Music at the Boston College Libraries.
Max also plays with renowned folk singer Priscilla
Herdman, who says, “Max is one of those rare guitarists able to create an atmosphere that supports and cradles the voice with both tenderness and strength.” The partnership with Lui Collins, Jane Yolen, and Donna particularly showcases Max’s guitar as he weaves poems and tunes together seamlessly. Yolen has full confidence in him: “We know we are in the best of hands when Max is in the band.”
Max has coached youth performances with the Great Groove Band at Old Songs and Philly Folk Festivals since 2008. A skilled studio producer and engineer, Max has played guitar on numerous recordings. Contact him with studio and production inquiries at maxcohenmusic.com.
Recognized by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick for “outstanding artistic achievement,” Donna Hébert is a cultural treasure. A state Artist’s Fellow in the Folk Arts with two original songs on Smithsonian anthologies, she’s earned eight appointments as a master fiddler in the National Endowment’s Master-Apprenticeship program. In 2017, she was interviewed for the Smithsonian DVD Old Time Conversations.
The late Dr. Alan Jabbour, Dir. (ret)., American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, called her “An outstanding performer and world class teacher. I consider her at the forefront of the developing field of fiddle pedagogy.” Other fiddlers weigh in: “Fiddling Demystified for Strings is “a cornucopia of fiddling” (Darol Anger, Berklee professor) and “This should be required reading for all string teachers.” (Strings Magazine)
Donna also plays in a duo with Max and they record and perform with Molly in Celtic group Mist Covered Mountains. Donna teaches fiddle and performance at Smith and Amherst Colleges and founded the yearly children’s performances at Old Songs and Philadelphia Folk Festivals.
Molly Hebert-Wilson’s nuanced vocals render a song’s emotions in English or Irish. An NYU musical theater and Irish studies grad, she grew up with traditional music and now plays upright and electric bass. She teaches voice in the Philadelphia area, both privately and for the Philadelphia Folksong Society. In 2019, she takes the helm directing The Great Groove Band at Old Songs and Philadelphia Folk Festivals.
Molly performs with indie folk group Rare Spirits and with Max and Donna in Mist Covered Mountains. Reviewing her 2013 Mist CD, This Distant Shore, Devon Leger from Hearth Music wrote “It’s not often you hear a voice this powerful debut in Celtic music.”