Holiday Programming

WWFM staff and hosts love sharing the sounds of the season throughout the year. We hope you enjoy all our holiday-themed programming. Please support our hosts' efforts by becoming a member today.

2018 Holiday Season

Sunday, Dec. 2

10 pm – The Lost Chord with Ross Amico: Celebrate Hanukkah, the eight-day Festival of Lights, with music on Jewish themes and by Jewish composers, including “Aspects of a Great Miracle” by Michael Isaacson, “Three Hassidic Dances” by Leon Stein,” and “The Klezmer Concerto” by Ofer Ben-Amots. 

Tuesday, Dec. 4

12 pm – Noontime Concert: A performance by Brooklyn-based Alkemie in a program entitled "Nowell Sing We: A Medieval Celebration,” organized around the theme of Twelfth Night and/or Epiphany, celebrated at the far end of the Christmas season, and illustrated through musical selections from the 11th through 16th centuries. Host Ross Amico will follow this up with a complete recording of Handel's oratorio, Judas Maccabaeus."

Thursday, Dec. 6

11 – Candles Burning Brightly: (American Public Media). Mindy Ratner hosts a new edition of this holiday favorite, in celebration of Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. "Candles Burning Brightly" explores Chanukah foods and traditional activities - and plenty of music. (This program will be rebroadcast Saturday at 8 pm)

Friday, Dec. 7

12 pm – Gloria in Excelsis: Christmas with the NJ MasterChorale: Carl Hemmingsen hosts this Noontime Concert, a holiday program from the NJ MasterChorale that includes John Rutter's Gloria, Christmas carols and William Gorton's Festive Te Deum.

Saturday, Dec. 8

1 pm – What Makes It Great with Rob Kapilow - Four Choruses from Handel's Messiah: Enjoy an encore of our live concert broadcast of What Makes it Great from Friday, Nov. 30, as host, commentator and author Rob Kapilow leads Princeton Pro Musica and the Monmouth Civic Chorus in four choruses from Handel's masterpiece, Messiah.
3 pm – Chanukah Celebration with Chicago a cappella: (WFMT) 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 neo-funk 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.
 7:30 pm – Inside Music: George Marriner Maull presents "Hallelujah!" featuring the music of Handel.
 8 pm – Candles Burning Brightly: (American Public Media). Mindy Ratner hosts a new edition of this holiday favorite, in celebration of Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. "Candles Burning Brightly" explores Chanukah foods and traditional activities - and plenty of music.

9 pm – Itzhak Perlman's Chanukah Radio Party: (WQXR) Join the superstar violinist 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.

Monday, Dec. 17

8 pm – An Evening of Readings and Carols: The annual Evening of Readings and Carols presented by the combined choirs of Westminster Choir College of Rider University. Recorded live in Princeton University Chapel this joyous musical event that symbolizes Christmastide’s musical high point for so many of you will feature guest artists organist Ken Cowan, harpist Elaine Christy and the New Jersey Youth Choir under the direction of Patricia Joyce. Also featured is a new commission for this year from Philadelphia based composer Kile Smith a setting of the ancient hymn ‘Of the Father’s Love Begotten’.
 

Tuesday, Dec. 18

12 noon – The Crossing@Christmas: This Noontime Concert features a performance by the Philadelphia-based ensemble The Crossing, including Gavin Bryars’ “The Open Road” on a program that features twelve works by living composers, organized around the theme of motherhood. Poignant reflections on the Nativity are set against apposite musical meditations by contemporary artists, including the world premiere of music by Michael Gilbertson – his setting Nobel laureate Wisława Szymborska's poem, “Born.”

Wednesday, Dec. 19

8 pm – The New York Philharmonic: Two hours of holiday favorites, conducted by Leonard Bernstein, Alan Gilbert, Lorin Maazel and more.

Friday, Dec. 21

8 pm – The Princeton Singers - "A Rose in Winter": A holiday concert by The Princeton Singers that was presented earlier this December at Trinity Church in Princeton. The program is called ‘A Rose in Winter’ and is filled with choral music from across centuries. Like this choral group’s acclaimed ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’ this program also seamlessly interweaves poems and literature in with the music and the Princeton Singers are joined by the reading voices of Emily Mann and Christopher Coucill. David Osenberg co-hosts with the Artistic Director of The Princeton Singers Steven Sametz for ‘A Rose in Winter.’ This will be rebroadcast Christmas Day at noon. 

10 pm – Distant Mirror: Enjoy a Medieval-Renaissance Christmas on this week's Distant Mirror.  Performances by New York Polyphony,  a Celtic Christmas with La Nef and the Apollo Singers, the Martin Best Ensemble and, of course, it wouldn't be Christmas without Anonymous 4. 

Saturday, Dec. 22

7 pm – A Tempo: King’s College Cambridge’s A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, and this week on A Tempo, host Rachel Katz will speak with Stephen Cleobury about this annual holiday tradition and his 37 years as the choir’s conductor.

7:30 pm – Inside Music:  Host George Marriner Maull presents “Hallelujah! Part 2” featuring the music of Handel.

Sunday, Dec. 23

2 pm – Sounds Choral: Host Ryan Brandau, artistic director of Princeton Pro Musica, Monmouth Civic Chorus and Amor Artists, shares some of his most treasured carols and motets for the Christmas season.

3 pm – Two Operas for Christmas on the Sunday Opera: 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.  

7 pm – The Dress Circle: 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.  

8 pm – The Lyric Stage: Singers of all styles love to sing Chrismas Music of all kinds, and opera singers are no exception. This special Lyric Stage features uninterrupted Christmas music sung by Jessye Norman, Luciano Pavarotti, Joan Sutherland, Mario Lanza and Kiri te Kanawa. 

10 pm – The Lost Chord: It’s Christmas in the British Isles, with selections from The Chieftains’ “The Bells of Dublin,” William Mathias’ “Bell Carol,” and “Rose & Thistle:  English and Scottish Music from the Christmas Revels.”  Also, Dylan Thomas will read his holiday classic, “A Child’s Christmas in Wales.”  

Monday, Dec. 24

8 pm (JazzOn2 only) – Jazz Worldwide with Michael Stone: JazzOn2 hosts an hour of Christmas jazz arrangements.

10 am – Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College Cambridge

Noon  – Welcome Christmas with VocalEssence: A perennial Christmas favorite from VocalEssence, one of the world’s premiere choral groups. An hour of traditional carols and new discoveries, including the world premiere of two carols from the annual Christmas Carol Contest. 

1 pm - Bach at One:  Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, parts 3 and 4, with the Boston Bach Ensemble. Julian Wachner conducts.

2 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!

6 pm – Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir & Orchestra: The world-renowned 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.

7 pm – Exploring Music with Bill McGlaughlin: Bach's Christmas Oratorio.

8 pm – Christmas with the Bach Choir of Bethlehem: This year’s program with The Bach Choir of Bethlehem, under the direction of artistic director & conductor, Greg Funfgeld, includes  Bach’s Cantata No. 36, Schwingt freudig euch empor; Respighi’s Laud to the Nativity and Bach’s Cantata No. 63, Christen, ätzet diesen Tag. The program will conclude with an audience sing-a-long of three favorite carols, including Silent Night. The concert was performed earlier this month at the First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem.

10 pm – A Chanticleer Christmas: Holiday classics and new favorites performed by the 12-man ensemble Chanticleer, with choral commentary by host Brian Newhouse.

11 pm – All is Bright - Contemplative Music for Christmas: One hour of gorgeous, contemplative music related to the Christmas season and its symbolism, hosted by Lynn Warfel.

Tuesday, Dec. 25

8 am – Festival Service of Christmas Lessons & Carols from Trinity Church Princeton: Join us Christmas Day morning at 8 as we’ll once again broadcast A Festival Service of Christmas Lessons & Carols for the Greater Princeton Community as presented by the Clergy and Choirs of Trinity Church Princeton led by Rector Paul Jeannes and Music Director Thomas Whittemore. This is our 7th year of bringing you this festive occasion as recorded in the Princeton University Chapel.

Noon - The Princeton Singers - "A Rose in Winter": A holiday concert by The Princeton Singers that was presented earlier this December at Trinity Church in Princeton. The program is called ‘A Rose in Winter’ and is filled with choral music from across centuries. Like this choral group’s acclaimed ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’ this program also seamlessly interweaves poems and literature in with the music and the Princeton Singers are joined by the reading voices of Emily Mann and Christopher Coucill. David Osenberg co-hosts with the Artistic Director of The Princeton Singers Steven Sametz for ‘A Rose in Winter’. 

2 pm – Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir & Orchestra:

3 - 6 pm – An Evening of Readings and Carols from Westminster Choir College: The annual Evening of Readings and Carols presented by the combined choirs of Westminster Choir College of Rider University. Recorded live in Princeton University Chapel this joyous musical event that symbolizes Christmastide’s musical high point for so many of you will feature guest artists organist Ken Cowan, harpist Elaine Christy and the New Jersey Youth Choir under the direction of Patricia Joyce. Also featured is a new commission for this year from Philadelphia based composer Kile Smith a setting of the ancient hymn ‘Of the Father’s Love Begotten’.

6 pm – A Chanticleer Christmas: Holiday classics and new favorites performed by the 12-man ensemble Chanticleer, with choral commentary by host Brian Newhouse.

7 pm – Exploring Music with Bill McGlaughlin: The Bach Christmas Oratorio.

8 - 10 pm – A St. Olaf Christmas Festival with the St. Olaf Choir and Orchestra: A St. Olaf Christmas Festival with the St. Olaf Choir and Orchestra: A service in song and word that has become one of the nation’s most cherished holiday celebrations. Tickets to the event - which takes place at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN - are always gone months in advance. 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.

10 pm – A Between the Keys Christmas Special: 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."

11 pm – Welcome Christmas with VocalEssence: A perennial Christmas favorite from VocalEssence, one of the world’s premiere choral groups. An hour of traditional carols and new discoveries, including the world premiere of two carols from the annual Christmas Carol Contest. 

Between the Keys Rings in 2019

Jan 1, 2019

"I can't afford to fly the Vienna Philharmonic in to perform live at my studio for New Year's Day," explains the Classical Network's Artist-in-Residence Jed Distler. "So instead, my program on January 1st will just have to feature traditional New Year's Concert fare on the piano!"

Enjoy this year's Christmas Eve with the Bach Choir of Bethlehem at 8 pm, under the direction of artistic director and conductor Greg Funfgeld. The program includes Bach’s Cantata No. 36, Schwingt freudig euch empor; Respighi’s Laud to the Nativity and Bach’s Cantata No. 63, Christen, ätzet diesen Tag. The program will conclude with an audience sing-a-long of three favorite carols, including Silent Night.

Join us Christmas Day morning at 8 am for a broadcast of A Festival Service of Christmas Lessons & Carols by the Clergy and Choirs of Trinity Church Princeton, led by Rector Paul Jeannes and Music Director Thomas Whittemore.

It’s Christmas in the British Isles, with selections from The Chieftains’ “The Bells of Dublin,” William Mathias’ “Bell Carol,” and “Rose & Thistle:  English and Scottish Music from the Christmas Revels.”  Also, Dylan Thomas will read his holiday classic, “A Child’s Christmas in Wales.”  Travel across the pond for an Old Country Christmas, this Sunday at 10 pm.

Christmas music this week on The Lyric Stage

Dec 23, 2018

Singers of all styles love to sing Chrismas Music of all kinds, and opera singers are no exception. This Sunday (12/23 at 8 pm), a special Lyric Stage of uninterrupted Christmas music sung by Jessye Norman, Luciano Pavarotti, Joan Sutherland, Mario Lanza and Kiri te Kanawa. The music ranges from the sacred and the classical to the popular, so sit back and enjoy. 

Host Ryan Brandau shares some of his treasured Christmas favorites, including motets and carols through the ages. Enjoy this Christmas-themed program Sunday (12/23) at 2 pm.

Enjoy a Medieval-Renaissance Christmas on this week's Distant Mirror.  Performances by New York Polyphony,  a Celtic Christmas with La Nef and the Apollo Singers, the Martin Best Ensemble and, of course, it wouldn't be Christmas without Anonymous 4.  Join Allan Kelly Friday night at 10.

Think inside the box, with music from “The Snowman” (Howard Blake), “The Homecoming” (Jerry Goldsmith), “A Christmas Carol” (Bernard Herrmann), and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (Vince Guaraldi).  For once, the snow on your television screen is wholly intentional, this Friday at 6 pm.

Enjoy this encore broadcast of this holiday concert by The Princeton Singers' concert called ‘A Rose in Winter,’ filled with choral music from across centuries Christmas Day at noon. 

Kevin Leighton

For many across the world, it wouldn't be Christmas Eve without the annual broadcast of A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from the chapel at King's College Cambridge. First held in 1918, the festival of readings and seasonal music has evolved over the years, commissioning new carols that have expanded the choral repetoire and broadening its reach, first through radio and more recently via online streaming.

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.

It’s a Christmas bouquet, of sorts, with Hugo Distler’s “Die Weihnachtsgeschichte” (“The Christmas Story”), an otherworldly, a cappella masterpiece punctuated by seven variations on the carol “Es ist ein Ros entsprungen” (“Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming”), and Emil Waldteufel’s waltz, “Roses de Noël.”  The holidays are in bloom, this Sunday at 10 pm.

Host James Jordan welcomes conductor Gary Graden back on Sunday (12/16), as they discuss Graden's new release of a recording of Handel's Messiah with the St. Jacob Chamber Choir and ensemble REBaroque. Hear this new episode Sunday at 2 pm.

Celebrate Hanukkah, the eight-day Festival of Lights, with music on Jewish themes and by Jewish composers, including “Aspects of a Great Miracle” by Michael Isaacson, “Three Hassidic Dances” by Leon Stein,” and “The Klezmer Concerto” by Ofer Ben-Amots.  Enjoy your fill of light and latkes, this Sunday at 10 pm.

Every year, WWFM The Classical Network is pleased to bring you a variety of holiday specials, including many that feature our musical partners. We hope that these special programs have become a part of your annual holiday tradition and wish you a joyous and bright holiday season. (We will update this list as new specials are scheduled). 

What better way to welcome the New Year than with your favorite classical hosts presenting a specially selected festive playlist? Join us New Year's Eve from 8 pm to midnight as Carl Hemmingsen, David Osenberg, Ross Amico and Alice Weiss bring you music to wind down 2017 and look forward to the New Year - complete with a countdown to midnight.

With much gift wrapping and cooking yet to be done, pause to reflect on the story of the first Christmas with Sir Hubert Parry’s “Ode on the Nativity” and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Nativity play “The First Nowell.”  It’s pastoral music for a pastoral scene, this Sunday at 10 pm. 

Enjoy a medieval--renaissance Christmas on Friday's Distant Mirror.  Performances by New York Polyphony, A Celtic Christmas with La Nef and the Apollo Singers, the Martin Best Ensemble and, of course, Anonymous 4.  Join Allan Kelly at 10pm.

Take a break from the holiday hurly-burly to enjoy music from “The Gift of the Magi,” from the anthology film “O. Henry’s Full House” (Alfred Newman), “Little Women” (Thomas Newman), “Ben-Hur” (Miklós Rózsa), and “A Christmas Carol” (Richard Addinsell).  Settle in to a library of Christmas classics, Friday at 6 pm. 

Join us for the annual Christmas concert with The Bach Choir of Bethlehem, the oldest American Bach Choir, along with the Bel Canto Children’s Chorus of The Bach Choir of Bethlehem, and soloist bass-baritone, David Newman and Thomas Goeman, organ. 

Join us for the annual Christmas service at Trinity Church in Princeton conducted by Music Director Thomas Whittemore Monday from 8 am to 10 am.

Enjoy this Christmas Eve edition of Sounds Choral as Ryan James Brandau continues his exploration of the Christmas music of JS Bach this week on Sounds Choral, Sunday (12/24) at 2 pm.

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.

Westminster Choir College celebrated its 25th Anniversary Evening of Readings and Carols this year, and you can hear this annual tradition this on Christmas Day at 3 pm. You can also enjoy the webcast anytime! See the program on the link here.

The Lost Chord: Dec. 17 - Hindemith Branches Out

Dec 17, 2017

If you’ve ever had a nightmare about a grimacing nutcracker or found yourself profoundly disturbed by a Rankin-Bass Christmas special, then this one’s for you.  Paul Hindemith’s unusual Christmas fairy tale, “Tuttifäntchen, ” presents a wooden figure, carved from a fir by a master woodcutter, which springs to life and generates all sorts of havoc.  In a similar vein, we'll hear Ernst Toch’s “Pinocchio:  A Merry Overture” and Leroy Robertson’s “Punch and Judy Overture.”  Nothing says Christmas like malevolent puppets, this Sunday at 10 pm.

Host Ryan James Brandau begins a two-week series devoted to the Christmas music of JS Bach on Sounds Choral this week at 2 pm.

Brandau is a professor at Westminster Choir College and artistic director of Princeton Pro Musica.

Four years into his studies at Westminster Choir College, senior John Franek was still finding himself caught up in the emotions and spirit of the school’s annual Readings and Carols as he prepared to chime the “basso profundo” D2 bell that rings in Joy to the World, the final carol on the program.

Westminster Choir College's Readings and Carols is celebrating its 25th anniversary season, and Sounds Choral this Sunday (12/10 at 2 pm) looks back on this treasured Princeton musical tradition. Westminster Professor James Jordan, director of the Westminster Conducting Institute, is joined by Kathleen Ebling Shaw, director of the Westminster Concert Bell Choir, as they share recordings from past years.

The new Christmas show on Broadway is a musical revue called "Home for the Holidays" at the August Wilson Theatre. Hear Theater Critic Howard Shapiro's review this week on In a Broadway Minute Friday at 8 am and Saturday at 10 am.

The Lives of the Saints.