Christmas

A Between the Keys Christmas Special

Dec 25, 2018

As Christmas Day winds down, The Classical Network’s Artist-in-Residence Jed Distler directs listeners to the piano, with seasonal fare by Dave Brubeck, Bruce Adolphe, Franz Liszt, Claude Debussy, Leroy Anderson and J.S. Bach. The featured work this hour is Godfrey Windham’s large-scale Variations on a Theme by James Pierpoint, performed by Alan Feinberg. Its theme, by the way, is none other than Jingle Bells, James Pierpont’s "greatest hit." And for an encore, Meral Guneyman's lovely arrangement of Mel Tormé's classic Christmas Song tops off a program you won't want to miss.
 

Oddly enough, it’s Christmas on The Dress Circle this week as well (12/23  7:00 p.m.).  Join Ted Otten and Michael Kownacky for an hour of nostalgic Christmas favorites including a 1953 radio broadcast of “A Christmas Carol” featuring Laurence Olivier as the narrator and Scrooge with an excellent, if unnamed, supporting cast.  Charles Laughton is back by popular demand with his delightful reading of a selection from another Dickens work, “The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club” and the section titled “Mr. Pickwick’s Christmas” recounting a joyous evening of a long-gone era.  

Christmas comes to the Sunday Opera this week (12/23 3:00 p.m.) when Michael Kownacky is presenting two contemporary works based on beloved Christmas stories.  First, we’ll visit George Bailey in Bedford Falls for Jake Heggie’s “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  With a libretto by Gene Sheer, we’ll follow Clara (Talise Trevigne) as she tries to finally earn her wings by helping Geoge (William Burden) see is true worth.  This tale of redemption also features Andrea Carroll as Mary, Rod Gilfrey as Mr. Gower and Mr. Potter, Joshua Hopkins as Harry, and Anthony Dean Griffey as Uncle Billy.  Patrick Summers leads the Houston Grand Opera Chorus and Orchestra in this recording made in 2017.  

The 2018 An Evening of Readings and Carols presented by the choirs of Westminster Choir College as recorded in the Princeton University Chapel on December 7 & 8, 2018. The Westminster Chapel Choir, Concert Bell Choir, Schola Cantorum & Symphonic Choir  along with Sold Brass were led by James Jordan, Amanda Quist, Steven Pilkington & Kathleeen Ebling-Shaw. Special featured guest artists were Ken Cowan, organ; Elaine Christy, harp & The New Jersey Youth Choir led by Patricia Joyce.

Two Christmas themed operas, and some additional holiday music, will be featured on this week’s Sunday Opera (12/24  3:00 p.m.).   The first is Hans Pfitzner’s charming fantasy entitled “Das Christ-Elflein” about a wood elf who travels with the Christ Child in order to find out more about humans and the celebration of Christmas.  The cast includes Helen Donath, Janet Perry, Alexander Malta, and Nikolaus Hilebrand with Kurt Eichhorn conducting.  

Take a break from the festivities this week and spend an hour on Christmas Eve (7:00 p.m.) with The Dress Circle for some favorite holiday moments from the musicals such as “The Gift of the Magi” by Peter Ekstrom, “A Year with Frog and Toad” by the Reale brothers, and “Scrooge” by Leslie Bricusse, as well as a few film songs from “The Santa Clause,” “The Snowman,” and “The Muppet Christmas Carol” and some nostalgia with songs such as “Christmas in Killarney” sung by Bing Crosby and Kenny Gardner singing “The Merry Christmas Waltz.”   

Penna Rose directs the Princeton Chapel Choir in a special Advent program, made up entirely of music and readings for the season.  Among the featured highlights will be Daniel Pinkham’s “Christmas Cantata,” this Tuesday at 12 pm.