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Holiday Specials

WVIA Radio specials for the 2022 Holiday Season
holiday specials

Sunday, December 11

2:00 pm, The Ballad of the Brown King and Other Music for Christmas by Black Composers

Dr. Louise Toppin, a noted performer and scholar who specializes in the concert repertoire of African American composers, presents the world premiere recording of Margaret Bonds’s The Ballad of the Brown King. With a libretto by Langston Hughes, this Christmas cantata which focuses on Balthazar, the dark-skinned king who journeyed to Bethlehem to witness the birth of Jesus Christ, is beautifully interpreted by New York City-based The Dessoff Choirs and Orchestra, soloists soprano Laquita Mitchell, mezzo-soprano Lucia Bradford and tenor Noah Stewart, led by Malcolm J. Merriweather. The special will also include music for the season selected by Dr. Toppin.

3:00 pm, All is Bright

All Is Bright is an hour of contemplative music related to the Christmas season and its symbolism. This program uses sacred choral music grouped in a way to tell the traditional Christmas story by way of songs about angels, the star, and the manger scene. Featured artists include Cambridge Singers, Cantus, and Chanticleer.


Sunday, December 18

Noon, The Film Score: Music for the Winter Holidays

Chicago Tribune film critic Michael Phillips is your host for The Film Score: Music for the Winter Holidays, an hour-long special devoted to holiday and wintertime movie music. In addition to beloved standards (“White Christmas” from “Holiday Inn” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” from “Meet Me in St. Louis”), Michael shares an eclectic mix of wintry film scores, ranging from “It Happened in Sun Valley” (from “Sun Valley Serenade”) to Alexandre Desplat’s folk-inspired score for “The Grand Budapest Hotel” to Bernard Herrmann’s bracing sleigh ride accompaniment composed for the Orson Welles drama “The Magnificent Ambersons.” Bundle up and enjoy The Film Score: Music for the Winter Holidays!

2:00 pm, A BTE Christmas Carol. 

Charles Dickens’ classic Yuletide tale comes to WVIA as an audio novel performed by members of the Bloomsburg Theater Ensemble. This adaptation by veteran BTE member James Goode brings this beloved Christmas ghost story to life.


Monday December 19

Noon, Candles Burning Brightly

Candles Burning Brightly is a celebration of Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights with an exploration of Chanukah foods and traditional activities … and plenty of music.


Wednesday, December 21

10:00 am, A Chanukah Celebration with Chicago a cappella

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.

10:00 pm A Paul Winter Solstice

Celebrate the return of the sun - and the warming of the heart with Paul Winter's Winter Solstice Celebration. On the darkest night of the year, we head back to New York's Cathedral of St. John the Divine to hear a performance of The Paul Winter Consort and the glorious Cathedral Pipe Organ. John Schaefer hosts.


Thursday, December 22

10:00 am, Wind & Rhythm Christmas Special 

Back in 1946, in the middle of a heat wave in Washington DC, the chief of the Scandinavian Desk of Military Intelligence dreamed up a piece of music that took him a couple of years to complete. Did you know that Leroy Anderson worked at the Pentagon at the end of World War 2? The piece he wrote, Sleigh Bells was written between his service to our country in World War 2 and his recall to active Duty for the Korean War. It was just a short time between the two conflicts, and what do you think he was thinking about?

Noon, A Baroque Noel with Pegasus Early Music

Celebrate the holiday season with 17th century flair with A Baroque Noel. Join Rochester’s Pegasus Early Music and NYS Baroque for seasonal baroque gems.

7:00 pm, Holiday Jazz with Dee Alexander

Beloved Chicago vocalist and WFMT Radio Network Jazz Network host Dee Alexander entertains and enchants with songs and reminiscences of holidays past, in a performance recorded at WFMT’s Fay & Daniel Levin Performance Studio with support from longtime collaborators pianist Miguel de la Cerna, bassist Junius Paul and drummer Yussef Ernie Adams. Holiday favorites abound, including “White Christmas,” “Coventry Carol,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and show-stopping renditions of spirituals inspired by Chicago gospel legend Mahalia Jackson. Chicago radio luminary Richard Steele hosts the show. Don’t miss Chicago’s first lady of jazz song serving up the winter holiday season in style!


Friday, December 23

9:00 am, 365 Holidays with the Canadian Brass 

The Canadian Brass play holiday favorites in new and classic arrangements. "365 Holidays" includes their exhilarating "Hanukkah Medley", as well as "Joy to the World", "The First Noel", "Silent Night", a new arrangement of "Jingle Bells" in the style of Handel -- and many other tunes for the season.

10:00 am, Music of the Baroque presents O Magnum Mysterium: The Brass & Choral Holiday Concert

Music makes the holidays come alive, and through the centuries this special time of year inspired composers to new creative heights. Drawn from diverse cultures and various points in history, Music of the Baroque Conductor Andrew Megill has assembled a program inspired by O Magnum Mysterium, an ancient chant sung at midnight on Christmas in the medieval church. This concert, recorded in 2021, features the debut of Music of the Baroque’s new Chorus Director Andrew Megill. Hosted by celebrated WFMT host Candice Agree, tune in to the great works of composers like Tomás Luis de Victoria, Giovanni Gabrieli, Roland de Lassus, Hans Leo Hassler, Diego José de Salazar, and many more. (2 hrs)

Noon, A Chanticleer Christmas

This one-hour program of holiday favorites, new and old, will be presented live in concert by Chanticleer, the superb 12-man ensemble known as "an orchestra of voices." Chanticleer is one of the premiere vocal ensembles in the nation. The ensemble has won two Grammys and is a member of the American Classical Music Hall of Fame.

1:00 pm, The Ballad of the Brown King and Other Music for Christmas by Black Composers

Dr. Louise Toppin, a noted performer and scholar who specializes in the concert repertoire of African American composers, presents the world premiere recording of Margaret Bonds’s The Ballad of the Brown King. With a libretto by Langston Hughes, this Christmas cantata which focuses on Balthazar, the dark-skinned king who journeyed to Bethlehem to witness the birth of Jesus Christ, is beautifully interpreted by New York City-based The Dessoff Choirs and Orchestra, soloists soprano Laquita Mitchell, mezzo-soprano Lucia Bradford and tenor Noah Stewart, led by Malcolm J. Merriweather. The special will also include music for the season selected by Dr. Toppin.

2:00 pm, Winter Holidays around the World with Bill McGlaughlin

Winter holidays are celebrated around the world, and their music is wonderful to hear, regardless of which tradition you observe. Celebrated educator, performer, conductor, and composer and host of the WFMT Radio Network’s Exploring Music Bill McGlaughlin gathers this spirited selection that starts in the 12th century with Nova Stella, medieval Italian Christmas music from Saint Francis of Assisi’s staging of the nativity; jazz pianist Dave Brubeck’s classical composition La Fiesta de la Posada, evoking a Mexican Christmas celebration; and Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on Christmas Carols. We will enjoy this time of year in Paris with music from Debussy, and then travel to Polynesia for a traditional hymn, Anau Oia Ea. And then ending with 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!

3:00 pm, A Choral Christmas With Stile Antico

Celebrate Christmas with the sound of soaring voices. Stile Antico, the award winning choir from London, pays a visit to St. Paul’s church on Harvard Square for a concert of radiant sacred music for the Christmas season by the most acclaimed composers of the renaissance. Hear the group’s luminous blend of voices sing the intricately woven music of Thomas Tallis and William Byrd. Hosted by Cathy Fuller of WGBH. Presented by NPR Music.

7:00 pm, Jazz Piano Christmas 38

Check out your favorite holiday classics as you’ve never heard them! This year, our annual sell-out event spotlights ferociously talented Japanese musical phenom Hiromi, Mountain Stage’s Bob Thompson, and Bolivian prodigy José André Montaño, chosen as one of the Kennedy Center’s “Next 50” leaders.

8:00 pm, A World Cafe Holiday

World Cafe celebrated 30 years by revisiting special holiday performances from Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Los Lobos, Andrew Bird, The Bird and The Bee, Pink Martini, Preservation Hall Jazz Band and more. Hosted by Raina Douris, this musical gift will provide a full hour of hip holiday cheer.

9:00 pm, A Mountain Stage Holiday

Join Mountain Stage host Larry Groce for an hour filled with beautiful music to mark the season. The show features special guests Holly Cole, Joan Baez, Bruce Cockburn, Loudon Wainwright III, The Roches, Kathy Mattea and more. All performances were recorded live on the Mountain Stage.

10:00 pm, The Big Tiny Desk Holiday Special

Celebrate the season with amazing holiday performances from The Tiny Desk Concert series including Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Steve Martin, Hanson, The Polyphonic Spree and more! Hosted by NPR Music frenemies Bob Boilen and Stephen Thompson.


Saturday, December 24 – Christmas Eve

10:00 am, A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols presents your audience with an opportunity to share in a live, world-wide Christmas Eve broadcast of a service of Biblical readings, carols, and related seasonal Classical music. This special will be presented by one of the world’s foremost choirs of men and boys and performed in an acoustically and architecturally renowned venue, the 500-year-old Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge, England. (2 hours)

Noon, The Magic Flute from The Metropolitan Opera

The Met’s abridged, English-language version of Mozart’s magical fairy tale is a classic holiday treat for audiences of all ages. A cast of standouts comes together to bring the charming story and enchanting music to life, led by tenor Ben Bliss as the courageous Tamino and soprano Joélle Harvey as the virtuous Pamina. Joshua Hopkins is the lovable lout Papageno, alongside Aleksandra Olczyk as the fearsome Queen of the Night and Solomon Howard as her nemesis, the wise Sarastro. Duncan Ward conducts.

The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte in the original German) is a sublime fairy tale that moves freely between earthy comedy and noble mysticism. It 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. It was first performed September 30, 1791, just several weeks before Mozart’s untimely death.

3:00 pm,  Messiah Sing-Along 2022

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 Covenant Presbyterian Church, Scranton. Matthew Rupcich conducts.

9:00 pm, Merry Jazzmas: A Jazz Standards Christmas Special.

Host Sascha Feinstein has selected Christmas Standards, such as "Jingle Bells performed by jazz greats, including Rene Marie; Dexter Gordon, and many others including a swinging take on Winter Wonderland by Duke Ellington .

10:00 pm, Jazz Night In America: A Holiday Celebration

This year's Jazz Night in America holiday special will feature drummer Matt Wilson's Christmas Tree-O; a ruckus band recorded at Jazz at Lincoln Center that flip seasonal songs on their head while inserting humor and joyful swing. and new takes on classics in this special episode. Christian McBride hosts.


Sunday, December 25 – Christmas

7:00 am, Music From St. Stephen’s Christmas Special. 

This one-hour special recorded by WVIA Radio in the majestic sanctuary of St. Stephen’s Pro-Cathedral features selections from the 2022 Lessons & Carols service.

10:00 am, St Olaf Christmas Festival

Description: The St. Olaf Christmas Festival is a chance for listeners across the country and around the world to participate in one of the nation’s most treasured holiday celebrations. Programming includes sacred choral and instrumental music from many traditions: beloved hymns, classical masterworks, folk songs from around the world, and African-American spirituals. 2 hrs.

Noon, Welcome Christmas

There’s no better way to welcome Christmas than Welcome Christmas!, the VocalEssence holiday concert conducted by Philip Brunelle. It’s an hour of joyful, classic holiday music from VocalEssence, one of the world’s premiere choral groups, singing traditional carols and new discoveries.

1:00 pm, Music to My Ears Christmas Special 

Host Gary Boerckel samples two operas that have come to be holiday favorites around the world. Gian-Carlo Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors tells the tale of a poor widow and her crippled son who are visited one evening by three kings in search of a new-born king. Engelbert Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel is based on the Grimm Brothers’ story of two children who encounter a witch in the forest.

2:00 pm, Messiah Sing-Along 2022

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 Covenant Presbyterian Church, Scranton. Matthew Rupcich conducts.

4:00 pm, Music From St. Stephen’s Christmas Special. 

This one-hour special recorded by WVIA Radio in the majestic sanctuary of St. Stephen’s Pro-Cathedral features selections from the 2022 Lessons & Carols service.

6:00 pm, An Afro Blue Christmas

Join us for a very special holiday concert with Howard University's premiere vocal ensemble Afro Blue and special guest pianist Cyrus Chestnut. Hear the a-cappela group perform a variety of holiday songs including African-American spirituals, jazz and pop tunes, and classical repertoire. The joyous celebration includes one of a kind arrangements on traditional holiday songs plus new compositions…music perfect for the holidays and the spirit of Christmas. Hosted by Michele Norris.


Saturday, December 31 – New Year’s Eve

10:00 pm, Toast of the Nation

An NPR tradition every New Year's Eve since the 1970s, Toast of the Nation is the perfect audio complement for the occasion. It's festive jazz you can party to, all night long. Hear sets from Ibrahim Maalouf, Lizz Wright, Ranky Tanky and Chucho Valdés.


Sunday, January 1 – New Year’s Day

11:00 am, New Year's Day From Vienna 2022

The ever popular annual New Year’s Day Concert will be performed by the Vienna Philharmonic under the baton of Franz Welser-Most. With this concert it is not only the desire of the Vienna Philharmonic to provide musically definitive interpretations of the masterworks of this genre, but also, as musical ambassadors of Austria, to send people all over the world a New Year's greeting in the spirit of hope, friendship and peace. Hosted by WBUR's Lisa Mullins.