We start Christmas Eve celebrations at 8:00am, Simeon Rusnak will present with a complete performance of a Venetian Christmas Mass.
Featuring the works of Giovanni Gabrieli and Cipriano de Rore, Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort and Players present an impression of the First Mass of Christmas in St Mark’s as it might have been celebrated in Venice around the year 1600.
Immerse yourself in the glorious sound world of this mass reconstruction, featuring moments of opulence, wonder and mystery.
Christmas Eve celebrations continue at 10:00am with a performance of Michael Praetorius’s Christmas Vespers.
Travel back to early 17th century Prussia as the combined forces of singers, violins, cornetti, sackbuts, theorbos and keyboards recreate the joy of Christmas Vespers as it might have been heard under the direction of Michael Praetorius in 17th-century Germany. In the spirit of the season, the audience and Consort join musical forces in singing favourite early Christmas carols. This is music that is at times both intimate and grand.
At 7:00pm Simeon Rusnak starts it all off with a brand new recording of A Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols: The Centenary Service with the Choir of King's College and Sir Stephen Cleobury.
A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols—the Christmas Eve service held every year in King’s College Chapel for the past 102 years! The service was first BROADCAST in 1928 and, with the exception of 1930, has been broadcast annually. Even during the Second World War, when the ancient glass (and also all heat) had been removed from the Chapel.
Today the broadcast is seen and heard by millions of people around the world and for many A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, live from the candlelit chapel in Cambridge, marks the beginning of Christmas –whether in Cambridge proper or far from it.
The jazz programming begins at 9:00pm with a full, uninterrupted broadcast of A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack with the legendary Vince Guaraldi.
The 1965 studio album by American jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi (later credited to the Vince Guaraldi Trio) was released in December of that year by Fantasy.
Guaraldi was contacted by television producer Lee Mendelson to compose music for a documentary on the comic strip Peanuts and its creator, Charles M. Schulz. Although the special went unaired, these selections were released in 1964 as Jazz Impressions of "A Boy Named Charlie Brown". Coca-Cola commissioned a Christmas special based on Peanuts in 1965 and Guaraldi returned to score the special.
Guaraldi composed most of the music, though he included versions of traditional carols such as "O Tannenbaum". He recorded some of the score at Whitney Studio in Glendale, California, then re-recorded some of it at Fantasy Records Studios in San Francisco with a children's choir from St. Paul's Episcopal Church in nearby San Rafael. The sessions ran late into the night, with the children rewarded with ice cream afterward.
On August 19, 2016, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified the album quadruple platinum for sales of four million copies. In November 2014, it was the tenth best-selling Christmas/holiday album in the United States during the SoundScan era.
Merry Christmas to all!
Simeon Rusnak returns to start the day with Handel's Messiah at 8:00am performed by the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir under the direction of Ivars Taurins.
A musical rite of the holiday season, the Baroque-era oratorio still awes listeners 260 years after the composer’s death. Did you know that Messiah was originally an Easter offering? It burst onto the stage of Musick Hall in Dublin on April 13, 1742. According to Smithsonian.com: ... the audience swelled to a record 700, as ladies had heeded pleas by management to wear dresses "without Hoops" in order to make "Room for more company." Handel's superstar status was not the only draw; many also came to glimpse the contralto, Susannah Cibber, then embroiled in a scandalous divorce . . .
The men and women in attendance sat mesmerized from the moment the tenor followed the mournful string overture with his piercing opening line: "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God." Soloists alternated with wave upon wave of chorus, until, near the midway point, Cibber intoned: "He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." So moved was the Rev. Patrick Delany that he leapt to his feet and cried out: "Woman, for this be all thy sins forgiven thee!"
Sit back, enjoy your coffee (perhaps with an added Bailey's treat?) and revel in the remarkable Tafelmusik recording featurings the beautiful voices of Karina Gauvin, Robin Blaze, Rufus Muller, and Brett Polegato.
At 2:00pm Classic 107 Music Director Chris Wolf will bring you Tchaikovsky's beloved Nutcracker Ballet Score
Right now ballet companies all over the world (The Royal Winnipeg Ballet included!) are performing this Christmas favourite which has become as synonymous with the holidays as Christmas trees, fruit cake and mistletoe. So how did a work that has nothing to do with the nativity story come to be such a staple of the season? How, moreover, has a work that was panned at its premiere come to be considered a jewel in the crown of the repertoire of any credible ballet company? In fact for many people, this is the only time in the year they’d even contemplate spending money on going to the ballet. And why is it that a German Romantic short story set to music by a Russian composer brought to life on stage by a French choreographer now enjoys such universal appeal?
Based on ETA. Hoffmann’s 1816 tale The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, the famous ballet was commissioned by the director of the Russian Imperial Theatre in 1892, following the huge success of Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty two years previously.
The ballet is free of theology and celebrates festivities to which many families, regardless of religious persuasion, can relate to at this time of year. It's a magical world of young children, parents, toys, Christmas trees, snowflakes and candy, all set to a score by Tchaikovsky that Sir Simon Rattle calls " . . .one of the great miracles in music". What's not to love?
At 8:00pm Chris Wolf invites you in for another favourite Christmas work, Heinrich Schütz's Christmas Story “Historia der freudenreichen Geburt Jesu
Christi”. Today we know the nativity story better than perhaps any other story ever told. In the mid-17th century, however, the story was a good deal fresher – the Latin Bible had only a few decades before been translated into languages that ordinary people could understand. Something of that freshness can still be retrieved from the music of the period – music in which composers were searching for an idiom that could carry the urgency of the Christian message.
No one did this better than Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672). Schütz’s Christmas Story is a late work--a setting of the Gospel intended to be performed during a service instead of the Gospel reading.
The music was probably first performed in a Christmas service at the court chapel of Johann Georg II, Elector of Saxony, in Dresden in 1660. Schütz was 75-years-old and drew from a lifetime of musical experience.
The text is almost exclusively taken from the Bible in the translation by Martin Luther, quoting both Luke and Matthew, framed by a choral Introduction and Beschluss (Conclusion). The biblical narration is based on Luke 2:1–21 and Matthew 2:1–23. The text of the conclusion is a translation of the Christmas sequence "Grates nunc omnes" by Johann Spangenberg (1545). The narrator is the Evangelist. Other characters appear in eight sections termed Intermedium (interlude): the angel to the shepherds, the hosts of angels, the shepherds, the wise men, priests and scribes, Herod, an angel to Joseph (twice).
We're going to hear a wonderful recording by Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort & Players. Tune in!
Jazz up your Christmas day at 10:00pm with the legendary Count Basie, as we present a full performance of “A Very Swingin’ Christmas.”
The year, 2015 marked the 80th Anniversary of The Count Basie Orchestra. William "Count" Basie (1904-1984) started his orchestra in Kansas City in 1935, and proceeded to develop and maintain one of the greatest jazz orchestras in music history. With Mr. Basie's meticulous attention to detail, selecting the very best musicians, and making sure that every tune could be
danced to, The Count Basie Orchestra soon became the favorite for everyone to listen and dance to with its irresistible "Kansas City stomp" style. Under the new leadership of its Director, Scotty Barnhart, The Basie Band known as "The Most Explosive Force In Jazz." released its first Christmas album, A Very Swingin' Basie Christmas! The 19-piece band is accompanied with the guest vocals of Johnny Mathis on "It's The Holiday Season," Ledisi on "The Christmas Song" and Carmen Bradford on "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." Additionally, Ellis Marsalis (Piano) and Plas Johnson (saxophone) are guest musicians on "I'll Be Home For Christmas."
At 1:00pm Chris Wolf will bring us L'Enfance Du Christ by Hector Berlioz.
Of all the great composers, Berlioz certainly isn’t remembered as a man of faith, despite his strict catholic upbringing.
And yet, three of the composer’s most important and substantial works have a religious basis: His mighty Requiem in 1837; the Te Deum twelve years later; followed by the oratorio L’Enfance du Christ, dating from 1854. It’s a huge work, which took four years to compose, and depicts not just the childhood of Christ but also Herod’s mass murder of infants in Judea, which led to the fleeing of Mary, Joseph and Jesus.
Unlike Berlioz’s other major works, L’Enfance du Christ was not conceived from the start as one work. It was begun almost by accident and grew piecemeal over a period of time. Part II, La Fuite en Égypte, was the first to be written in 1850. Part III, L’Arrivée à Saïs, was added in late 1853 and early 1854, with Part I, Le Songe d’Hérode being added last in 1854. It was the success of one of the movements from Part II, The Holy Family at rest, in performances in 1853, which prompted Berlioz to enlarge and complete the original design, as he writes in a letter to his sister Adèle from Leipzig November 30,1853:
Berlioz whipped up a storm of praise wherever he went, and the premiere performance of L’Enfance du Christ in December of 1854, was met with euphoric appreciation by the Parisian audience. Subsequent performances across Europe received an equally