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WRTI Spotlight

WRTI Presents Beloved Specials and a Beautiful, Uplifting Soundtrack for Hanukkah

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Celebrate Hanukkah with WRTI!

You're invited to experience the music of Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, with WRTI. Hanukkah lasts for eight days, and this year it begins at sundown on Thursday, December 10th and lasts until sundown on December 18th. Celebrations at home may be small, but with WRTI you can join a huge community of listeners, all enjoying this music together.

Warm up with our Swingin' and Singin' Hanukkah Playlist on Spotify!

Our party begins on December 11th with a special performance of local composer David Ludwig’s Hanukkah Cantata by Choral Arts Philadelphia, tenor Steven Bradshaw, baritone Brian Ming Chu and conductor Matthew Glandorf, in our Friday Choral Connection at 1:30 PM. This work, with a text in traditional Hebrew and English, was commissioned by the ensemble in 2007 and premiered that year at Congregation Rodeph Shalom in Philadelphia.

On December 12th, on Classical Coffeehouse with Debra Lew Harder, enjoy traditional music for the Festival of Lights, including The Angel City Chorale singing “Maoz Tzur” and “Al Hanissim,” and the Wissahickon High School Camerata singing “Nes Gadol."

You'll also hear “I Have a Little Dreidel,” played by harpist Rachel Van Voorhees and The Los Angeles Quartet playing a captivating set of “Klezmer Dances” with clarinetist Leo Chelyapov. Israeli mandolinist Avi Avital brings his inimitable style to the holiday with klezmer artists Giora Feidman and Richard Galliano, in music of Eastern Europe.“Sephardic Lullaby” by Israeli composer Paul Ben Haim is on the program, and Handel’s depiction of the Maccabean revolt, with its story of the miracle of the lights, in “See the Conquering Hero Comes,” from his oratorio Judas Maccabeus. And don’t miss Tom Lehrer’s “I’m Spending Hannukah in Santa Monica” sung by Jody Applebaum, with Marc-Andre Hamelin at the piano.

On Sunday, December 13th, join us for a wonderful lineup of Hanukkah Specials:

  • Itzhak Perlman’s Chanukah Radio Party at 4 PM

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; 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!

  • A Chanukah Celebration with Chicago a cappella at 5 PM

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.

  • Candles Burning Brightly at 6 PM on the WRTI Classical Stream and HD-2

A one-hour celebration of Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights with an exploration of Chanukah foods and traditional activities … and plenty of music.

  • A Chanukah Celebration Across the Globe at 7 PM on the WRTI Classical Stream and HD-2

Join us for a journey into the rich and varied melodic traditions of countries where Jews have lived and worshiped for centuries, including music from Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Balkans, Central Asia ...and Africa! You'll hear performances from top New York ensembles East of the River, Shashmaqam, and the Marty Levitt Klezmer Orchestra – plus a recording of the astounding Jewish community of Putti Village, in Uganda. A lively program, full of intriguing treasures.

  • Chanukkah in Story & Song at 8 PM on the WRTI Classical Stream and HD-2

Sung by The Western Wind and narrated by the late 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.
Then on Monday, December 14th through Friday the 18th, the festivities continue with a variety of traditional dances, poems and prayers for the season, including "Hatikva" from cellist Inbal Segev, Danse Hebraique from violinist Maurice Sklar, "Shalom Rav" from harpist Rachel Van Voorhees, and more from Niv Ashkenazi and his newly released album, Violins of Hope.

-aU