No matter what you're doing over this holiday weekend, Classic 107 has got your music covered! Tune in for all your favourites starting Christmas Eve and right through to Boxing Day. See the holiday schedule here.
7:00 PM- We begin Christmas Eve with The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols and the Choir of Kings College Cambridge. (1998 Recording).
Classic 107's Claudia Garcia de la Huerta brings us the Christmas Eve service from King’s College Chapel that’s been held every year since 1918. It was first broadcast by the BBC in 1928 and is now broadcast to millions of people around the world.
8:00 AM - Host Sarah Jo Kirsch opens Christmas morning with J.S. Bach's Christmas Oratorio BWV 248.
Intended for performance in church during the Christmas season, it was written for Christmas 1734. It incorporates music from earlier compositions, including three secular cantatas written during 1733 and 1734 and a now lost church cantata, BWV 248a. It would not be performed again until December 17, 1857 by the Sing-Akademie zu Berlin under Eduard Grell. The author of the text is unknown, although a likely collaborator was Christian Friedrich Henrici (Picander).
1:00 PM - Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker with host Chris Wolf.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's most famous composition, The Nutcracker was originally a two-act ballet, choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Tchaikovsky (op. 71). The libretto is adapted from E.T.A. Hoffmann's story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, by way of Alexandre Dumas' adapted story 'The Nutcracker'. It was performed for the first time at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg on Sunday December 18, 1892--on a double-bill with Tchaikovsky's opera Iolanta.
Although the original production was not a success, the 20-minute suite that Tchaikovsky extracted from the ballet was. However, the complete Nutcracker has enjoyed enormous popularity since the late 1960s, and is now performed by countless ballet companies including our very own Royal Winnipeg Ballet (Dec 22 - Dec 30)
4:00 PM - Classic 107's Andrea Ratuski has A Venetian Christmas.
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.
6:00 PM - We end Christmas Day with Simeon Rusnak guiding us through Handel's Messiah.
George Frideric Handel’s incomparable oratorio has become the signal work of the Christmas season for millions of people the world over. In fact, Messiah is most likely to be the one of Handel’s many compositions that you know or know about, perhaps primarily through the magnificent “Hallelujah” chorus.
Messiah is a unique oratorio, for it is neither history nor dramatic tale nor philosophy. All of its text is scripture, from both Old and New Testaments, selected and sequenced by Charles Jennens, a librettist with whom Handel had collaborated previously. Its subject is the Anointed One, the Expected One, the promised royal and spiritual leader of the Jewish people. A peculiar feature of the texts which Jennens selected, however, is that in only one instance is the name Jesus cited, and that is very near the end of the oratorio. This opens the oratorio to a new role: a reflection or contemplation of the nature of the Anointed One rather than a celebration of a particular named figure.
Messiah continued to be a favorite in Handel’s time. Different performances in different locations required the composer to prepare new arias or recast some of the existing music for different singers with different voice ranges. None of these changes dampened the public’s enthusiasm for the work. In fact, if anything, Messiah transcended its time so successfully that composers like Mozart and any number of conductors adapted it for performances in their own day. It’s safe to say that Handel would barely recognize his work in some of those adaptations: ponderous tempos that accommodated a chorus of a thousand singers; massive reorchestrations for large ensembles of modern instruments; wholly un-baroque performance style for the singers and the instrumentalists; and of course no consistent pattern for the choice of arias and choruses. Yet in spite of how musicians and adoring fans have encountered it over the centuries, Messiah remains vitally alive in the music scene and the consciousness of our culture today.
10:00 AM - Dinner Classics host Terry Klippenstein begins the day with Ralph Vaughan Williams' Hodie (This Day).
This cantata, composed between 1953 and 1954, was Vaughan Williams' last major choral-orchestral composition, and was premiered under his baton at Worcester Cathedral, as part of the Three Choirs Festival, on September 8, 1954. The cantata, in 16 movements, is scored for chorus, boys' choir, organ and orchestra, and features tenor, baritone, and soprano soloists.
The cantata opens with jubilant fanfares for brass, soon followed by cries of "Nowell!" from the full chorus. These introduce a setting of part of the vespers service for Christmas Day, the only portion of the work that is not in English:
Nowell! Nowell! Nowell!
Hodie Christus natus est: hodie salvator apparuit:
Hodie in terra canunt angeli, laetantur archangeli:
Hodie exultant justi, dicentes: gloria in excelsis Deo: Alleluia.
Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!
Today Christ is born: Today the Saviour appeared:
Today on Earth the Angels sing, Archangels rejoice:
Today the righteous rejoice, saying: Glory to God in the highest: Alleluia.
2:00 PM - Hector Berlioz's L'Enfance du Christ with Morning Light host Michael Wolch
Unlike Berlioz’s other major works, L’Enfance du Christ was not conceived from the start as one work. It was, in fact, 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 on 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.
7:00 PM - We end our holiday features with host Paul von Wichert and Historia der Geburt Jesu Christi (Historia of the birth of Jesus Christ) by German composer and organist Heinrich Schütz.
In 1660 the court of the Elector of Saxony in Dresden heard a piece of musical history – the music performed at the court’s Christmas Vespers was composed for the occasion by the Elector’s Kappellmeister Heinrich Schütz. Schütz who had studied music with Gabrielli and had travelled to Venice to hear the new music of Monteverdi was responsible for introducing to Germany a new and very exciting form of music, a form of music that would be brought to dizzying heights of accomplishment by such musicians as Bach, Handel, and Haydn.
Schütz’s Weihnachtshistorie (Christmas Story) which was described in the Elector of Saxony’s court diary for Christmas of 1660 as ‘the birth of Christ in recitative style’, is the first known setting of the nativity story in which the Evangelist’s words are sung in recitative rather than as unaccompanied chant. Despite being such an important (and influential) event the work was almost completely unknown to audiences for almost 250 years after it was first performed. In 1664 Schütz published the Evangelist’s part alone. Times were hard and publishing expensive so states that the the music for the choruses and intermedii was available in manuscript on application to the composer. And there the matter would have rested had it not been for the work of Arnold Schering who in 1908 discovered an almost complete set of manuscripts in the library of Uppsala University.
And of course, in between these great featured works, you'll hear nothing but great holiday music starting at 6PM December 24 all the way through to midnight on Boxing Day.
From all of us here, we wish you, our listeners, a wonderful and joyous holiday season! Thank you for making Classic 107 the soundtrack for your holiday season.
**Classic 107 offices will be closed December 23 @ 3PM through to Dec 27. Regular business hours commence December 28 (8AM to 5PM)