Make it a Classic 107 Christmas with festive programming and hand selected masterworks for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
From Handel's Messiah and Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker, to A Very Swingin’ Christmas with the Basie Band, find a complete schedule of all the special works we have planned here!
At 7 PM 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.
Merry Christmas to all!
Simeon Rusnak returns to start the day with Handel's Messiah at 8 AM 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 featuring the beautiful voices of Karina Gauvin, Robin Blaze, Rufus Muller, and Brett Polegato.
At 2 PM Classic 107 Music Director Chris Wolf will bring you Tchaikovsky's beloved Nutcracker Suite.
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?
Ironically enough, if you had put this question to the critics at the premiere in St Petersburg, the reply might have been: “everything!”
"The Nutcracker cannot in any event be called a ballet. It does not satisfy even one of the demands made of a ballet” was one gripe. “For the woman dancer there is very little in it, for art precisely nothing, and for the artistic fate of our ballet – it is yet one more step downwards” was another. The critics also took offence to the plot, or lack of: “nor does it have a story, but rather a series of unconnected scenes, recalling the latest pantomimes which the boulevard theatres flaunt.” For one critic this reliance on mere “spectacle” was “an insult”. He added: “God grant that similar failed experiments do not happen often.”
In 1954, the American choreographer George Balanchine made a version for New York City Ballet that's the version that remains the ultimate holiday classic in North America.
At 7 PM Dinner Classics' Terry Klippenstein invites you to bask in the glory of a Monteverdi Christmas Vespers
A stunning new recording of a reconstructed Christmas Vespers as they may have been heard in St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, in the first half of the 17th Century under maestro di cappella Claudio Monteverdi
Featuring La Cetra Baroque Orchestra Basel, La Cetra Vocal Ensemble, and the impressive grand Zanin organ in the Museo Civico di Santa Caterina, Treviso
The Vespro veneziano that Andrea Marcon has assembled for this new recording is inspired by the resplendent sounds of the music that was performed at the great Christmas Vespers in St. Mark’s in the presence of the foremost dignitaries of La Serenissima and a large audience of aristocrats and visitors from across Europe. This reconstruction features works from various printed anthologies of works by Monteverdi and his contemporaries and presents the sort of Vespers that might have been heard in Venice over the Christmas period during the long incumbency of “il divino Claudio” as maestro di cappella at St Mark’s — he held the post from August 1613 until his death on 29 November 1643.
The jazz programming begins at 10 PM with a full, uninterrupted broadcast of A Very Swingin' Christmas with the Count Basie Orchestra
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 pm 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:
[…] I heard for the first time this morning a complete performance of my Mystery on the Flight to Egypt, from which the piece The Holy Family at rest scored such a success in London and in every city in Germany that I have just visited. It is really good, it is innocent and touching (do not laugh), in the style of the illuminations of old missals. Everyone says that I have caught to perfection the right colour for this Biblical Legend, and I am being urged to continue this work by doing now The Holy Family in Egypt. I would be happy to do this, because the subject enchants me, when I have found the documents I lack on Jesus’ stay in Egypt; I am writing the words as well as the music. If I can bring this off, here is a score that is ideal for dedication to my nieces; this reason alone would move me to write it, since they are pleased to see their name on one of my works. […]
Part I of the work was indeed dedicated eventually to the composer’s nieces Joséphine and Nanci.
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 rapturous response, much to the composer’s delight!
From all of us at Winnipeg's Classic 107, we wish you the very best of the season!
Thank you for making Classic 107 a part of your yuletide celebrations.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!