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Classical Album of the Week: Music for the Holidays from Chicago a cappella

Elliot Mandel
Chicago a cappella

December 23, 2019. Voices ringing out in harmony make the holidays ever so much richer, whether we're listening to familiar Chrismas carols and songs for Hanukkah, sacred music from different traditions, or traditional African-American spirituals. Our album of the week, Holidays a cappella Live has a taste of all of these.

Holidays a cappella Live is a recording by Chicago a cappella, an ensemble founded in 1993 by Jonathan Miller, that performs a series in the Chicago area, and has toured the U.S .and Mexico.  Its nine recordings include music from the Renaissance to contemporary works.

Holidays a cappella Live features Christmas favorites such as Morten Lauridsen's stunning O Magnum Mysterium.

There's also the rousing spiritual, "Go Tell it on the Mountain."

The album also features a number of Chanukah and dreidel-based songs, including Robert Applebaum's "Oh Chanukah."

and an arrangement of "Ikh Bin a Kleyner Dreidl."

Music from other traditions include traditional versions of the Ukrainian song Bo Sja Razdaje, and the Swedish songs Kristallen den Fina and Gaudete.

Wishing everyone a Happy Holiday season! 

Holidays a cappella Live Track List:

• Roun' de Glory Manger, arr. Willis Laurence James?

• O Magnum Mysterium, Morten Lauridsen?

• Immanúel oss í nátt, Thorkell Sigurbjörnsson?

• Glory to the Newborn King, arr. Robert Leigh Morris?

• Bo Sja Raždaje, trad. Ukrainian, arr. James E. Clemens?

• Children, Go Where I Send Thee, arr. Robert Leigh Morris?

• Wexford Lullaby, arr. John Renbourn?

• Kristallen den Fina, trad. Swedish, arr. Gunnar Eriksson?

• Hemant (Winter) from "Six Seasons," Vanraj Bhatia?

• S'vivon, arr. Steve Barnett?

• Shehecheyanu Jonathan Miller?

• The Huron Carolarr, Steve Schuch?

• The Angels and the Shepherds, Zoltán Kodály?

• Poor Little Jesus, arr, Anne Heider?

• Sancta Maria, Ora Pro NobisRandall Giles?

• Gaudetetrad. Swedish, arr. Brian Kay?

• Coventry Caroltrad., arr. Jonathan Miller?

• Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Martin/Blane (arr. Robert Convery)?

• Christmas Day 1666 (from "Fragments from his Dish"), Bob Chilcott?

• Ikh Bin a Kleyner Dreidl, Mikhl Gelbart (arr. Mark Zuckerman)?

• Oh Chanukah / Y'mei Hachanukah, Robert Applebaum?

• Funky Dreidl, Robert Applebaum?

• Go Tell it on the Mountain, spiritual, arr. Joseph Brewer

This year, several holidays align, with Hanukkah starting after sundown on December 22nd, Christmas falling on Wednesday, December 25th, and Kwanzaa beginning on December 26th.

For more Christmas cheer this week, you'll also be hearing a vocal and instrumental selections from Weihnachtslieder - die schonsten traditionellen Lieder zu Weihnachten & Advent, including works by The Philadelphia Brass Ensemble. 

And to mark the Kwanza holiday, on the air you'll be treated to an array of spirituals, songs of the African tradition, and seasonal music from African-American composers. Tune in to hear interpretations from bass-baritones, Dashon Burton and Odekhiren Amaize, the late soprano Jessye Norman, pianist Lara Downes, Washington Master Chroale and the Imani Winds.

Susan writes and produces stories about music and the arts. She’s host and producer of WRTI’s TIME IN online interview series, and contributes weekly intermission interviews for The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series. She’s also been a regular host of WRTI’s Live from the Performance Studio sessions.