This Christmas, Classic 107's gift to you, our listeners, is the gift of music.
Starting at 6:00 PM Christmas Eve (Dec 24) right through to the end of the day Boxing Day (Dec 26) you'll be able to enjoy the best in holiday music with minimal interruptions.
We begin Christmas Eve with . . .
At 7:00 PM we bring you A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols performed by Choir of Kings College Cambridge, directed by Stephen Cleobury. White Light host Eric Friesen will be introducing this time honoured tradition.
A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is the Christmas Eve service held in King's College Chapel. The Festival was introduced in 1918 to bring a more imaginative approach to worship. It was first broadcast in 1928 and is now broadcast to millions of people around the world.
The service includes carols and readings from the Bible. The opening carol is always 'Once in Royal David's City', and there is always a new, specially commissioned carol.
Christmas Day - December 25
At 10:00 AM Eric Friesen will once again take up hosting duties to present Handel's Messiah. This year we'll hear the 2011 recording from the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir, featuring the vocal talents of Canadian soprano Karina Gauvin, English countertenor Robin Blaze, also from England, tenor Rufus Muller and Canadian baritone Brett Polegato. They are lead by conductor Ivars Taurins.
Join Tafelmusik for an uplifting and prfoundly moving performance of Handel's Messiah. Experience this baroque masterpiece in the the intimate and acoustically Koerner Hall.
At 2:00 PM Intermezzo host and Classic 107's music director Chris Wolf will take you through the complete performance of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker performed by the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra directed by Ondrej Lenard.
Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker was first performed in St. Petersburg in 1890, damned with the faintest of praise by the Tsar, who remarked that it was "very nice". The composer himself expressed dissatisfaction with his music.
The story of the ballet is drawn from E.T.A. Hoffmann's tale, Der Nussknacker und der Mäuserkönig. Set in the eighteenth century, initially in the house of the President of one of the German states of the period, the ballet opens with a children's Christmas party, at which Drosselmeyer, a slightly sinister adult, brings presents, a doll for Clara, the daughter of the house, and a toy soldier for Franz, her brother. When the children are told not to open their presents, Drosselmeyer quietens them by giving the two a pair of nutcrackers, promptly broken by Franz who tries to crack the biggest nut he can find.
At night Clara creeps down to see her broken Nutcracker, and is alarmed at the open warfare that breaks out between the Mouse-king and his army and the Gingerbread soldiers by the Christmas tree. With a well-aimed shoe, she routs the enemy, and is invited by the Nutcracker, now transformed into a handsome prince, to visit the Kingdom of Sweets, an opportunity for welcome by the Snow-King and Snow-Queen and a series of character dances, including the famous Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy, with its then novel use of the celesta, and dances celebrating Spanish chocolate, Arabian coffee, China tea, the Russian trepak, and the old woman who lived in a shoe.
The Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra (Bratislava), the oldest symphonic ensemble in Slovakia, was founded in 1929. The orchestra's first conductor was František Dyk and over the past sixty years it has worked under the direction of several prominent Czech and Slovak conductors.
Ondrej Lenard was born in 1942 and had his early training in Bratislava, where, at the age of 17, he entered the Academy of Music and Drama, to study under Ludovit Rajter. His graduation concert in 1964 was given with the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra and during his two years of military service he conducted the Army Orchestral Ensemble, later renewing an earlier connection with the Slovak National Opera, where he has continued to direct performances.
Boxing Day - December 26
At 10:00 AM Diamond Lane host Sarah Jo Kirsch will present L'Enfance Du Christ by Berlioz performed by Montreal Symphony and chorus. Charles Dutoit is the conductor. The featured vocalists include soprano Susan Grahm, Baritone Francois Leroux, Tenor John Mark Ainsley, Bass Phillip Cokorinos, Bass Andrew Wentzel, tenor Gordon Getz, and bass Marc Belleau, bass.
L'enfance du Christ (The Childhood of Christ), Opus 25, is an oratorio by the French composer Hector Berlioz, based on the Holy Family's flight into Egypt (Gospel of Matthew 2:13). Berlioz wrote his own words for the piece. Most of it was composed in 1853 and 1854, but it also incorporates an earlier work La fuite en Egypte (1850). It was first performed at the Salle Herz, Paris on 10 December 1854, with Berlioz conducting and soloists from the Opéra-Comique: Jourdan (Récitant), Depassio (Hérode), the couple Meillet (Marie and Joseph) and Bataille (Le père de famille).
Berlioz described L'enfance as a Trilogie sacrée (sacred trilogy). The first of its three sections depicts King Herod ordering the death of all newborn children in Judaea; the second shows the Holy Family of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus setting out for Egypt to avoid the slaughter, having been warned by angels; and the final section portrays their arrival in the Egyptian town of Sais where they are given refuge by a family of Ishmaelites. Berlioz was not religious as an adult but remained all his life susceptible to the beauty of the religious music that had enraptured him as a child. L'enfance also shows some influence from the Biblical oratorios of Berlioz's teacher Jean-François Le Sueur.
Then at 7:00 PM Morning Light host Michael Wolch will present Hodie - A Christmas Cantata by Ralph Vaughan Williams featuring mezzo soprano Dame Janet Baker, tenor Richard Lewis and Baritone John Shirley-Quirk, The Bach Choir and Choristers of Westminster Abbey, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. Sir David Willcocks is the conductor.
Like his last three symphonies, Hodie (which translates as "this day" and is pronounced "HO-dee-ay") was a product of Vaughan Williams' old age, and like those works, it flows with a vitality, force and inventiveness that belies concessions to any infirmity or impairment. Written in 1953-4 and first performed at the Three Choirs Festival in Worchester Cathedral on September 8, 1954, it is one of the most serene compositions Vaughan Williams ever wrote, sounding at times otherworldly.
The composer had always wanted to write a large-scale Christmas work, and here he not only got his wish, but perfectly fused the religious spirit of the festival with the specially British overtones with associations to carols sung around the Hertesford countryside. Like Bartók before him, Vaughan Williams uses no specific folk tunes in this work, but by this point in his career he had so synthesized their character into his being that his folk tune-like themes sound fully authentic.
Hodie, as in Benjamin Britten's A Ceremony of Carols, is an "anthology" work, the texts (taken in this case from the Bible, Milton and Thomas Hardy, among other sources) skillfully selected to reflect both the Christmas theme and the different aspects of the composer's personal style. The oratorio is linked together by narration of the Nativity from the Gospels by boy choristers, accompanied by organ - a compositional device used by Bach in his Passions, for which Vaughan Williams had a deep love.
A deep affection for this work permeates this performance, as well. Recorded in 1965 under the direction of Sir David Wilcocks, and sounding incredibly good in its digital remastering, it is one of those few recordings that make a listener wonder, "How often do they get everything right?"
In between al these great works you'll hear nothing but great holiday music. Listen as well for Classic 107 staff members to share with you what their favourite Chistmas songs are. From Porky Pig to Jethro Tull, you might be surprised by what some of these selections are!
Classic 107 will return to regular programing Saturday Dec 27 with Simeon Rusnak 6:00 AM - Noon and the Wide World of Classical Music with Michael Wolch Noon - 6:00 PM.
From all of us here at Winnipeg's Classic 107, we thank you for making us the soundtrack for your holiday season. We wish you the best throughout this festive season and a safe and peaceful new year.