Looking for an extra dose of hope, good tidings, and cheer this holiday season? Never fear, WRTI is here! A sleighful of music is on its way and your WRTI companions Bliss, Mark and Melinda are on hand every step of the way.
There's so much beloved music for this time of year, full of stories—both sung and narrated—and our hand-picked highlights will keep the wonder and sparkle of the season alive for you all the way through the month!
Leading up to Christmas, middays will be sprinkled with even more of our most treasured choral works, including George Frideric Handel’s Messiah on December 23rd at 12 noon.
Tune in December 23rd and 24th in the 4 PM hour for a musical enactment of Michael Morpugo’s Grandpa Christmas performed by the extraordinary musical family, the Kanneh-Masons, and Alan Dawson’s A Christmas Carol - A Dickens of a Tale.
It’s not Christmas Eve without A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carol from King's College Chapel. Tune in December 24th at 10 AM for what will be the 92nd year of this special event from London. Here's the complete program for the concert.
On Christmas Eve on WRTI HD-2, it’s time for Charlie Brown! Tune in at 6 PM for the Canadian Brass: Christmas Time is Here followed by ¡Vamos a Belen! Christmas with the Rose Ensemble at 7 PM and Chanticleer Christmas at 8 PM. As you set out Santa’s milk and cookies, cap the night off with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s Handel’s Messiah from 10 PM to midnight.
Bliss Michelson and Melinda Whiting will accompany you through your Christmas morning and midday, with highlights including Irish and Scottish traditional selections from our Classical Album of the Week, Be All Merry from the Choral Scholars of University College Dublin and a choice pairing of Heinrich Schütz’s Magnificat and Praetorius’ Benedicamus Domino performed by Choral Arts Philadelphia and Piffaro, The Renaissance Band in our Friday Choral Connection at 1:30 PM.
Christmas afternoon at 2 PM we'll feature what has become an annual WRTI tradition, The Crossing @ Christmas, a one-hour special from the two-time, GRAMMY-winning local ensemble followed by Hygge Holiday, a wintry, nostalgic hour hosted by Elena See at 3 PM and, of course, the treasured Christmas with the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square hosted by Andrea Blain at 4 PM. To take you into evening, hosts Julie Amacher and Tesfa Wondemagegnehu share an uplifting program entitled A Soulful Christmas, with performances by the Moses Hogan Chorale, Take Six and the St. Olaf Choir.
On Christmas night from 6 to 10 PM on WRTI HD-2 the celebrating continues with more wonderful specials: Winter Holidays Around the World with Bill McLaughlin, Apollo's Fire Presents Christmas on Sugarloaf Mountain, The Film Score: Music for the Winter Holidays, and Welcome Christmas.
For those in-between days from December 26th to 31st, we have storytime treats for kids young and old! On Saturday, December 26th listen to Vivaldi's Gloria in D Major, RV 589 in the 9 AM hour of Classical Coffeehouse, and on Overture at 1 PM, Mark brings you The Christmas Rose, a brother and sister operatic story about the spirit of giving.
On December 27th it's Christmas with Morehouse and Spelman Glee Clubs at 4 PM. The choirs from two of the most prestigious historically Black institutions in the nation get together to present a spine-tingling concert program. This encore presentation features their trademark mixture of spirituals and carols. Korva Coleman hosts. Then it's the St. Olaf Christmas Festival (Highlights) at 5 PM - a chance for listeners across the country and around the world to hear one of the nation’s most treasured holiday celebrations.
Then, during the week of December 28th, join us for four narrated family favorites in the 11 AM hour including Tubby the Tuba, Carnival of the Animals with narrator Olivia Colman (of The Crown), Peter and the Wolf with narrator Leonard Bernstein, and The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.
Throughout that week, we’ll also mark Kwanzaa with music celebrating its values of family, community, and culture. Hear the anthemic "Lift Every Voice and Sing" by J. Rosamond and James Weldon Johnson and Valerie Coleman’s Umoja in its original form for winds and also The Philadelphia Orchestra’s 2019 premiere of her orchestration. From the contemplative “Deep River” to the hopeful “I Want Two Wings” and the jubilant “Great Day," there will be moving performances of your favorite African American spirituals each day.
Plus, you'll hear a few seasonal African selections including "Nyathi Onyuol," a Luo spiritual composed by Enrico Oweggi for Muungano, the National Choir of Kenya, and "Amuworo ayi otu nwa" by Christian Onyeji, Professor of Music, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
When January 1st arrives, what better way to get a bright start to the New Year than in three-quarter time! It’s waltzes galore from the Golden Hall of the Musikverein. Join us for the ever-popular 2021 New Year’s from Vienna at 11 AM, hosted by Lisa Mullins and featuring the Vienna Philharmonic under the baton of Riccardo Muti. This year's concert will be performed without an audience. The program is here.
Watch the concert from 2020:
And here's a Merry Christmas message from our friends at the PYO Music Institute! Watch a virtual performance of Leroy Anderson's "Sleigh Ride" after Santa says hello from the North Pole.