December Highlights on VIA Radio

Posted by Chris Zellers on

San Francisco Symphony

Sunday, December 1st, 2pm

Mozart meets Mahler in this concert conducted my Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas. Isabel Leonard is featured in Mozart’s virtuoso sacred vocal work Exultate Jubilate, K. 165 and Mahler’s Symphony No. 4. The concert is launched by a set of delightful German Dances by Mozart. 




Saturday, December 7th, 1pm

Director Phelim McDermott tackles another one of Philip Glass’s masterpieces, following the now-legendary Met staging of Satyagraha. Star countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo is the title pharaoh, the revolutionary ruler who transformed ancient Egypt, with the striking mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges in her Met debut as his wife, Nefertiti. To match the opera’s hypnotic, ritualistic music, McDermott has created an arresting vision that includes a virtuosic company of acrobats and jugglers. Karen Kamensek conducts in her Met debut.

Akhnaten is one of Philip Glass’s three large-scale operas based on a “big idea,” in this case monotheism, following Einstein on the Beach, which dealt with new notions of time and space, and Satyagraha, which explored the spiritual and political revelation of non-violence. Satyagraha and Akhnaten, especially, deal largely with the unseen forces affecting the inner (psychological), interpersonal (political), and universal (mystical) aspects of existence, subjects that are uniquely portrayed by the composer’s entrancing musical lines.


Winter Holidays Around the World

Sunday, December 8th, 2pm

Winter holidays are celebrated around the world, and their music is wonderful to hear, regardless of which tradition you observe. Host Bill McGlaughlin has assembled a program of music that takes us from the 12th century through medieval Italian Christmas music from Saint Francis of Assisi’s staging of the nativity to jazz pianist Dave Brubeck’s classical composition La Fiesta de la Posada, evoking a Mexican Christmas celebration. Among the highlights are Vaughan Williams’ 'Fantasia on Christmas Carols’ and an excerpt from Gian Carlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors from the original television production. Turn on your radio, pour a cup of tea, cozy up to a warm fire, and enjoy the music!

Hygge Holiday: Cozy Classics

Sunday, December 8th, 3pm

Join host Elena See as she plays a mix of wintry and nostalgic classical pieces designed to accompany listeners as they enjoy cozy wintertime activities. Hygge (HOO-guh) is a Danish term cannot be translated to one single word but encompasses a feeling of cozy contentment and well-being through enjoying the simple things in life. So take time out of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, grab a cup of tea (or hot chocolate) and enjoy an hour of delicious, delectable classics. It’s like a snuggly soft blanket of music.


The Queen of Spades


Saturday, December 14th, 1pm

Tchaikovsky’s eerie thriller of imperial Russia has its first performances at the Met since 2011. Tenor Aleksandrs Antonenko is Hermann, the fanatical gambler whose obsession with a powerful secret drives him to madness. Soprano Lise Davidsen makes her highly anticipated Met debut as his long-suffering lover, Lisa, with mezzo-soprano Larissa Diadkova as the otherworldly Countess. Baritone Igor Golovatenko is Yeletsky, baritone Alexey Markov is Tomsky, and Vasily Petrenko conducts.

A work of extreme moods and colors, The Queen of Spades explores life’s frivolities as well as the darkest impulses of obsession, addiction, madness, and self-destruction. The gripping plot is set against the vast elegance and macabre allure of St. Petersburg, which functions almost as a character itself. Tchaikovsky’s lyric mastery is equally apparent throughout the whole of this remarkable score, which moves deftly from the most elegant to the most harrowing situations.


Brass and Choral Holiday Concert

Sunday, December 15th, 2pm

Tune in to the great works of composers like Samuel Scheidt, Giovanni Gabrieli, William Billings, Claudio Monteverdi, and many more performed by the outstanding early music ensemble Music of the Baroque. Drawn from diverse cultures and various points in history, conductor William Jon Gray has assembled a program highlighting multifarious holiday traditions around a single unifying principle: whether in the twelfth or nineteenth centuries, in Germany, Italy, Mexico, Russia, the Netherlands, or Spain, music gives voice to the spirit of the season. The first half of the program draws together Giovanni Gabrieli’s sparkling “stereophonic” music for brass ensemble and ethereal choral music written for performance in the soaring churches of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe. Christmas music for Russian czars and the straightforward harmonies of North American music, including William Billings’s Shiloh and the Revivalist hymn “I shall be satisfied” illustrate dramatically the wealth of musical styles employed in the celebration of the holiday. Also featured: lively instrumental dances by Tylman Susato contrasted with “Adoramus te, Christe,” a sacred madrigal written by opera “inventor” Claudio Monteverdi, the infectious Riu, riu chiu, and poignant “Lo, how a rose e’er blooming”.




Saturday, December 21st, 1pm

Soprano Anna Netrebko created a sensation when she made her Met role debut as Lady Macbeth in 2014, opposite baritone Željko Lučić in the title role. Now, the two stars reunite to reprise their acclaimed portrayals in Verdi’s gripping Shakespeare adaptation. Marco Armiliato conducts a standout cast that also features tenor Matthew Polenzani as Macduff and bass Ildar Abdrazakov as Banquo, in Adrian Noble’s evocative production.

Verdi’s opera is a powerful musical interpretation of Shakespeare’s timeless drama of ambition and its personal cost. Raising questions of fate, superstition, guilt, and power, it marks an important step on the composer’s path from his more conventional earlier efforts to the integrated musical dramas of his mature years.


A Chanukah Celebration with Chicago a cappella 

Sunday, December 22nd, 2pm

Join Jonathan Miller, artistic director of Chicago a cappella and a longtime champion of Jewish choral music, for an inspiring and informative show featuring choral music set to Chanukah texts. Familiar tunes include "I Have a Little Dreidel" (both in its original Yiddish form and in a neo-funk Hebrew/English setting), a swing version of "S'vivon" by Steve Barnett, and a lively setting of the traditional melody for "Al-Hanissim" ("For the Miracles") by Elliot Levine. Heartfelt original compositions by American and British composers provide added depth of expression to celebrating the holiday. Such works include "Lo Yisa Goy," a plea for peace by Stacy Garrop; Bob Applebaum's stirring new version of "Haneirot Halalu"; and movements from the majestic "Hallel Suite" by London-based Daniel Tunkel. All selections are performed by Chicago a cappella, the virtuoso vocal ensemble now in its 23rd season. Jonathan Miller provides liturgical and cultural background as part of this unique look inside old and newer choral Chanukah traditions.

Candles Burning Brightly

Sunday, December 22nd, 3pm

Mindy Ratner hosts this 2017 encore celebration of Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. "Candles Burning Brightly" explores the meaning and traditions of Chanukah, including holiday foods and Sephardic and Ashkenazi music. 


The Magic Flute


Saturday, December 28th, 1pm

A beloved holiday tradition continues as Mozart’s delightful fairy tale returns in the Met’s abridged, English-language version for families, perfect for younger audiences, with no intermission and a running time of less than two hours. Lothar Koenigs conducts a dynamic cast of standout Mozarteans in Julie Taymor’s magical production, an enduring Met classic with its eye-popping puppetry and stunning visuals.
A sublime fairy tale that moves freely between earthy comedy and noble mysticism, The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte in the original German) was written for a theater located just outside Vienna with the clear intention of appealing to audiences from all walks of life. The story is told in a singspiel (“song-play”) format characterized by separate musical numbers connected by dialogue and stage activity, an excellent structure for navigating the diverse moods, ranging from solemn to lighthearted, of the story and score.


The Annual Messiah Sing-Along

Sunday, December 29th, 2pm

The tradition continues as the Arcadia Chorale and soloists invite the audience to perform in the Christmas section of the famous Handel oratorio as well selections from Parts 2 and 3. This year recorded at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Pro-Cathedral in Wilkes-Barre, PA.


Music From St. Stephen’s Christmas Special. 

Sunday, December 29th, 4pm

This one-hour special recorded by VIA Radio in the majestic sanctuary of St. Stephen’s Pro-Cathedral features….


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