"Architecture of Voices" is a concert series organized by the agency "Ear" in Kiev in 2014-2015. Ars Nova and Paul Hillier performs the program Broken Dishes.
This program celebrates the New Year and the beginning of the return of light. The Christmas story is still unfolding, with the Holy Family's flight into Egypt, Herod's massacre of the Innocents, and the Epiphany - the manifestation of a star guiding the three kings westward. Googling for a traditional custom that would represent this idea I came upon the apparently old Danish custom of making a pile of old dishes, and at New Year throwing them against the front door: the more broken fragments, the more friends you will have in the coming year. I found this idea very attractive and even perhaps very Danish! Unfortunately, when I asked my Danish friends about this, none of them was aware of any such custom. Undaunted, and unwilling to waste a good title, I decided to go ahead anyway and invent tradition in the best Victorian manner!
Meanwhile, one of the singers of the group found that H.C. Andersen has written about this custom although not with plates but with pots. In his story 'Årets Historie' from 1852 he writes: »'Der løb nu menneskene om og skød nytår ind,' sagde en lille forfrossen spurv, 'de slog potter på døre og var rent ellevilde af glæde over at nu gik det gamle år væk'«. It translates: "The people ran about and fired off guns, to usher in the new year," said a little shivering sparrow. "They threw things against the doors, and were quite beside themselves with joy, because the old year had disappeared.
- Paul Hillier