This Is Your WRTI Holiday Soundtrack with Classical and Jazz Specials To Fill Your Days With Joy!
Below are highlights from our carefully chosen selection of classical and jazz holiday favorites, and very special programs—the perfect music for opening presents and enjoying holiday feasts. Season's Greetings from all of your friends at WRTI!
Enjoy this video from our 2019 Silent Night Sing-In!
Friday, December 20th
11:00 am - Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker, complete ballet
12:35 pm - The Crossing @ Christmas, recorded live from the WRTI Performance Studio
4:00 pm - Rutter: Brother Heinrich’s Christmas
Saturday, December 21st
6:00 am to noon - A Classical Holiday Coffeehouse with Debra Lew Harder
Choices are: Vivaldi's Gloria in D, RV 589, J.S. Bach's Christmas Oratorio, Part 1, or Marc-Antoine Charpentier: Messe de Minuit pour Noel
Sunday, December 22nd
1:00 pm - Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert: Handel's Messiah
Originally broadcast on Easter Sunday, 2019, WRTI’s Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcast series presents a masterwork of the classical repertory. Four stellar soloists and the Westminster Symphonic Choir join The Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, for this iconic oratorio, first conceived and performed during the 1743 Lenten season in London. Yannick’s intimate conception of Messiah is in keeping with 18th-century performance practice, which means a much smaller string section, and two oboes, a single bassoon, a pair of trumpets, timpani, organ, harpsichord, four vocal soloists, and mixed chorus.
4:00 pm - Chanukah Celebration w/Chicago A Capella
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 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.
5:00 pm - Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia Holiday Special
The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia celebrates the season with an hour of some of the most beautiful music for the holidays.
6:00 to 8:00 pm - Voices in Big Band Jazz and Big Band Jazz Christmas Show
Join WRTI’s Bob Craig for two hours of holiday Jazz favorites performed by large configuration classic and current bands. The first hour features the great vocalists fronting the bands, and the second hour puts the bands themselves in the spotlight.
8:00 pm - Jazz Night in America: A Holiday Celebration
Jazz Night in America brings you holiday classics from their past five seasons – featuring fresh arrangements and entertaining storytelling recorded live from Rose Theater in New York City. You'll hear the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, plus special guest vocalists Catherine Russell and Kenny Washington. Christian McBride hosts.
6:00 pm - Chanukkah in Story & Song
Sung by the The Western Wind and narrated by Leonard Nimoy. The acclaimed vocal sextet and the renowned actor present 25 eclectic selections, from the Ladino songs of the Spanish Jews and Yiddish melodies of Eastern Europe to modern Israeli tunes and their original version of “I Have a Little Dreydle.” The singers sing a cappella and are also joined by instruments including violin, accordion, bass and guitar. The narration written by Rabbi Gerald Skolnik sheds light on the holiday customs and rituals.
7:00 pm - Itzhak Perlman’s Chanukah Radio Party
Join superstar violinist Itzhak Perlman as he tells the story of the Jewish festival of lights, and shares his favorite recordings for the holiday – some serious, some silly. This engaging one-hour special includes numbers from Itzhak Perlman’s radio-addicted childhood in Israel; evocative songs in Yiddish and Ladino; classical music that revolves around the Maccabee heroes of the story; and Chanukah gems by American folk singers. The master storyteller also regales you with jokes and memories, plus tales of three classic Chanukah symbols: the menorah, the latke, and, of course, the dreidel. A good time for the whole family, at Itzhak Perlman’s Chanukah Radio Party!
8:00 pm - A Chanukah Musical Celebration
The spirit of Chanukah, a holiday joyous at freedom's triumph and spiritual rededication, is richly reflected in the folk melodies and songs from countries across the globe where Jews have lived and worshipped for centuries. Host Naomi Lewin presents this music for all to enjoy in A Chanukah Musical Celebration.
9:00 - Chanukah Celebration w/Chicago A Capella (encore broadcast from 4:00 pm)
Tuesday, December 24th (Christmas Eve)
6:00 am - Christmas Classics with Bliss Michelson
Join Bliss for holiday classics expertly curated to accompany your Christmas Eve morning wrapping, shopping, or sneak peaks under the tree.
10:00 am - Nine Lessons and Carols
An annual and beloved Christmas tradition, “A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols” is an extraordinary and memorable live service of word and music from the Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge, England, hosted by Michael Barone. Audiences will share in a live, world-wide Christmas Eve broadcast of a service of Biblical readings, carols, and related seasonal music (anthems a cappella and with organ accompaniment, and congregational hymns), presented by one of the world’s foremost choirs of men and boys and performed in an acoustically and architecturally renowned venue.
12:00 to 5:00 pm - Christmas Classics with Melinda Whiting and Mark Pinto
Melinda and Mark have the most beautiful classical holiday soundtrack to your Christmas Eve afternoon preparations and festivities.
5:00 PM - All is Bright: Contemplative Music for Christmas
Lynne Warfel hosts an hour of gorgeous, contemplative choral music that tells the traditional Christmas story with songs about angels, the star and the manger scene. Featured artists include Cantus, Chanticleer, the Cambridge Singers, Bryn Terfel, Emma Kirkby, Jessye Norman, and a variety of choirs.
6:00 pm to 6:00 am - Christmas Jazz with Courtney Blue and Bobbi Booker
WRTI’s hosts curate the best Christmas jazz to keep you in the holiday groove. Courtney Blue will bring you a wonderful soundtrack, both old and new, perfect for dinner, gatherings, and the sound of hooves on the rooftop. Bobbi Booker keeps the holiday jazz flowing through the night as the milk and cookies disappear and our youngest listeners wake before sunrise to sneak a peek at what’s waiting under the tree!
WRTI-HD2 and the Classical Stream
6:00 pm - The Canadian Brass: Christmas Time is Here
Hosted by Jeff Spurgeon, this program features arrangements of music by Vince Guaraldi and Luther Henderson as well as traditional favorites from "A Charlie Brown Christmas," "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas," "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Frosty the Snowman" and more – timeless classics infused with jazz and lush harmonies. The selections on this program are featured on the quintet's holiday album, "Christmas Time is Here."
7:00 pm - Christmas with the King’s Singers
It’s an a cappella Christmas from England with the King’s Singers, one of the world’s most celebrated vocal ensembles. In an exclusive New York appearance recorded at The Greene Space, this male sextet — consummate entertainers with a delightfully British wit — perform timeless carols, Christmas classics and new arrangements in their impeccable vocal blend. Jeff Spurgeon hosts.
8:00 pm - Operavore Christmas
Naomi Lewin presents an hour of Christmas and holiday music from the world of opera and oratorio sung by some of the greatest singers past and present including Marilyn Horne, Leontyne Price, Bryn Terfel, Thomas Hampson, Joan Sutherland and more.
9:00 pm - Handel's Messiah from Trinity Church, New York
Handel’s “Messiah” performed by The Trinity Choir and Trinity Baroque Orchestra, conducted by Julian Wachner. The program is hosted by WQXR’s David Garland and noted choral conductor, Kent Tritle. The concert was recorded live at Trinity Church in December of 2011.
Wednesday December 25th
6:00 am - 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.
7:00 am - Welcome Christmas!
“Welcome Christmas!” is a perennial Christmas favorite from VocalEssence, one of the world’s premiere choral groups. John Birge hosts an hour of traditional carols and new discoveries, including the world premiere of two carols from the annual Christmas Carol Contest.
For 2019, hear the world premiere of Nico Muhly's "The Faire Starre," a nativity cantata that draws on 17th century metaphysical poets and is set in the unique, eclectic style that has earned Nico Muhly raves from the Metropolitan Opera.
8:00 am - Christmas with the Tabernacle Choir
The world-renowned Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square (what was once the Mormon Tabernacle Choir) continues its tradition of great artistry this holiday season, with touching arrangements of familiar carols, and lesser-known melodies that are fast becoming the new classics. Julie Amacher hosts this annual favorite. Audiences will enjoy a warm, nostalgic holiday celebration featuring a choir of 360 voices, a 150-piece orchestra at Temple Square, the 32-member Bells on Temple Square, along with other artists and special guests. A 600-person cast will share a stunningly beautiful mix of carols in various unique arrangements.
9:00 am - Chanticleer Christmas
Celebrate the season with song! Brian Newhouse hosts this one-hour program of a cappella holiday favorites, new and old, presented live in concert by Chanticleer, the superb 12-man choral ensemble known as "an orchestra of voices."
10:00 am - The Crossing @ Christmas 2019
WRTI invites you to experience The Crossing chamber choir’s 2019 Christmas concert, The Crossing @ Christmas, recorded live at The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. This annual performance is known for creating an aura of tranquility, and has become a holiday tradition for many vocal music lovers throughout our region. Traditions matter, particularly when the world around them is uncharted, adventuresome, unknown; that’s what makes the tradition of The Crossing @ Christmas so special. It’s a true gift for The Crossing to sing works that they have loved and longed for. And they feel so fortunate to have introduced these works to friends, with their rich and varied styles, contemplating the wonders of birth, of the natural world, of mystery and love.
12:00 pm - St. Olaf Christmas Festival
This service in song and word has become one of the nation's most cherished holiday celebrations. The festival includes hymns, carols, choral works, as well as orchestral selections celebrating the Nativity and featuring more than 500 student musicians in five choirs, and the St. Olaf Orchestra. Valerie Kahler shares the sights and sounds of this choral favorite.
2:00 pm - Nine Lessons and Carols (encore performance from Christmas Eve)
4:00 pm - Christmas with Morehouse and Spelman Glee Clubs
One of the great holiday traditions in America, the choirs of Morehouse and Spelman Colleges -- two of the most prestigious historically black institutions in the nation -- get together to present a spine-tingling concert program. This encore presentation features the best works of the last several years. It's a joyous celebration of the schools' tradition of singing excellence, with their trademark mixture of spirituals and carols. Korva Coleman hosts.
5:00 pm - Christmas at The Movies
The Christmas holiday is charged with nostalgia and hope, so a Christmas setting can effectively heighten the emotional power of any film. There have been many Christmas scenes in movies, and host David Garland unwraps some of the accompanying music for them. Holiday favorites such as It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle On 34th Street and The Bishop's Wife are included.
6:00 pm - Christmas Jazz with Courtney Blue
Courtney Blue provides the perfect soundtrack for your Christmas dinner. She’ll feature classic holiday music from Ella Fitzgerald, Vince Guaraldi and Oscar Peterson, as well as new seasonal releases from Dave Stryker, Kristin Korb, and many others.
9:00 pm - A Swinging Holiday Jazz Party with Wynton Marsalis
As a special holiday bonus you can join in the fun of A Swinging Holiday Jazz Party with Wynton Marsalis. This is an hour of holiday jazz favorites by Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Gregory Porter, René Marie, and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.
10:00 pm - Jazz Night In America: A Holiday Celebration
A special encore presentation of this musical best-of, which features which features holiday classics from the past five seasons of Jazz Night In America – featuring fresh arrangements and entertaining storytelling recorded live from Rose Theater in New York City. You'll hear the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, plus special guest vocalists Catherine Russell and Kenny Washington. Christian McBride hosts.
11:00 pm - Christmas Jazz with Courtney Blue and Bobbi Booker
The presents have been opened, the dinner is over, and the guests have left. It’s time to settle in and let Courtney Blue and Bobbi Booker ease you into planning for New Year’s Eve!
12:00 am - Christmas Classical Through the Night
Peter Van De Graaf hosts a wide variety of Christmas classical music all-night long.
6:00 am to 6:00 pm - Christmas Jazz
Open the presents while singing and swinging to your favorite holiday.
6:00 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. Bill’s spirited selection 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!
7:00 pm - Music of the Baroque Brass and 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, 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.
9:00 pm - The Film Score: Music for the Winter Holidays
The Film Score: Music for the Winter Holidays, hosted by Michael Phillips, is 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!
10:00 pm - Christmas Classical Through the Night
Saturday, December 28th
12:00 to 1:00 pm - Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors
Nashville Symphony Orchestra, members of the Nashville Symphony Chorus, members of the Chicago Symphony Chorus, Ike Hawkersmith (treble) as Amahl, and Kirsten Gunlogson (mezzo-soprano) as his mother. Alastair Willis conducts.
Tuesday December 31st (New Year’s Eve)
6:00 pm - New Year’s Eve Live with WRTI!
Tune is as we share our favorite WRTI studio performances from 2019. It was a full year of great live music and we can’t wait to share these exclusive WRTI performances.
7:30 pm - New Year’s Eve Live with WRTI and The Philadelphia Orchestra
Join your host Gregg Whiteside and guest conductor Bramwell Tovey as he leads the Fabulous Philadelphians in a special live concert from the Kimmel Center. Ring in the new year with a glass of bubbly and a hundred of your closest friends playing some of the finest classical music to be found anywhere!
9:30 pm (approximately) - New Year’s Eve Live with the Paula Johns Quintet at SOUTH
The new year’s eve party continues with host J. Michael Harrison ushering in the new year with vocalist Paula Johns and her extraordainary band. We guarantee you’ll be swinging into the new year!
1:00 am - Toast of the Nation Jazz Special
Toast of the Nation is the perfect audio complement for the occasion. It's festive jazz you can party to, all night long. This year we are featuring some of the best jazz collectives playing today. We'll hear the Baltimore Collective recorded live at The Keystone Korner, The Michael Leonhart Orchestra at The Jazz Standard, The SFJAZZ Collective in San Francisco and The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in New York City..
Wednesday January 1st, 2020
11:00 am - New Year’s Day from Vienna 2020
The Vienna Philharmonic, conducted this year by Andris Nelsons, presents its ever popular annual New Year's Day concert from the Golden Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna. You'll hear your favorite waltzes, polkas and more -- a great way to start off the New Year.
1:00 pm - New Year’s Eve Philadelphia Orchestra Concert (encore broadcast)