This Week at The Classical Station

Photo: Dale Marie Muller, Roberts, Montana

This Week at The Classical Station

by Rob Kennedy

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Harpist Alyssa Reit opens Preview! this evening with a performance of the traditional French carol Noel Nouvolet from her CD A Christmas Feast. Dr. Jeremy Filsell talks about No Small Wonder, the new Christmas recording he has released with the Choir of St. Thomas Church, New York.

Preview! brings you new releases and local arts news on Sundays at 6 p.m. Eastern.

This morning Great Sacred Music includes performances by the North Carolina Master Chorale, the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Chorus.  You’ll hear works by Joshua Jacobson, Stephen Schwartz, J.S. Bach, and many more. You’ll also hear music to celebrate Hanukkah.

Great Sacred Music.  8 a.m. Right after Sing for Joy. With Mick Anderson.

On December 10 we observe the birthdays of Belgian-born French composer César Franck (1822-1890), French composer Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992), American composer Morton Gould (1913-1996, and British pianist Kathryn Stott (1958-).

While César-Auguste-Jean-Guillaume-Hubert Franck was born in what is now Belgium, he took French citizenship when he was appointed to the faculty of Conservatoire de Paris in 1872. He composed four operas, several oratorios, as well as orchestral and chamber works. His music for organ is a staple of every organist’s repertoire. Besides being a composer and organist, Olivier-Eugène-Prosper-Charles Messiaen was an ornithologist. He is widely considered one of the great composers of the 20th century. Richmond Hill, New York native Morton Gould published his first composition at the age of six. He wrote symphonies, film scores, Broadway musicals, and much more. His manuscripts are archived in the Library of Congress. Ms. Stott teaches at the Royal Academy of Music. She concertizes regularly and is a long-time collaborator of cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

Photos: Jeanne Rongier’s 1885 painting “César Franck at the console of the organ at St. Clotilde Basilica, Paris, 1885/Public Domain on; Olivier Messiaen/Public Domain on CC 1.0; Morton Gould/Milken Archive of Jewish Music; Kathryn Stott on

Saturday, December 9, 2023

The Metropolitan Opera kicks off its 2023-24 season of Saturday matinee broadcasts on December 9 with the network premiere of an enchanting opera about a fateful journey down the Amazon: Florencia en el Amazonas – by Mexican composer Daniel Catán. It stars soprano Ailyn Pérez as Florencia, a diva who embarks on a quest for her lost love. The cast also features Gabriella Reyes, Mario Chang, Mattia Olivieri, and Nancy Fabiola Herrera. Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin leads the Met Orchestra and Chorus in the opera’s lush, stunning score.

The curtain goes up at 1 p.m. Eastern.

On December 9 we observe the birthdays of five musicians: French composer Émile Waldteufel (1837- 1915), Spanish composer Joaquín Turina (1882-1949), German-born British soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (1915-2006), English composer Alan Ridout (1934-1996), and American violinist Joshua Bell (1967-).

The composer of many waltzes including the well-known Les Patineurs, Monsieur Waldteufel dominated the London music scene in the 1870s and 80s, thanks to substantial royal patronage. A friend of Ravel and Debussy from his time in Paris at the Conservatoire, Senor Turina wrote a variety of works including operas. Dame Olga Maria Elisabeth Friederike Schwarzkopf was one of the 20th-century great singers of lieder. She appeared in many of the world’s great opera houses and recorded extensively. A prolific composer, Alan Ridout studied with Herbert Howells and Sir Michael Tippett. One of the 21st-century’s most celebrated violinists, Joshua Bell is Music Director of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. He performs in concerts around the world and has recorded extensively.

Photos: Émile Waldteufel, Joaquín Turina/Public Domain on; Elizabeth Schwarzkopf on, CC 2.5 Switzerland; Alan Ridout/Unknown; Joshua Bell/Alex Duff on, CC 3.0 France

Friday, December 8, 2023
First day of Hanukkah

The Metropolitan Opera presents
Daniel Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas
Saturday, December 9 at 1 p.m. Eastern

The staff and volunteers wish our listeners a very happy Hanukkah!  We’ll be presenting seasonal selections throughout the eight-day observance of Chanukah, including Dr. Greysolynne Hyman’s A Hanukkah Celebration during Great Sacred Music on Sunday.

We also invite you to enjoy a conversation with Rabbi Eric Solomon of Beth Meyer Synagogue here in Raleigh, North Carolina, about Hanukkah, its history, its customs, and its music. You can listen to and download this podcast here. Happy Hanukkah! Hanukkah sameach!

Photo: Menorah Gil-Dekel

On December 8 we observe the birthdays of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1957), Mexican composer Manuel Ponce (1882-1948), Czech composer Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959), and Irish flute player Sir James Galway (1939-).

Johan Julius Christian Sibelius was the composer who put Finland on the map, musically speaking. He composed scores of works until 1926. After that, Sibelius apparently wrote very little music for the next thirty years. Manuel María Ponce Cuéllar was one of those skillful composers like Sibelius and Vaughan Williams who knew how to weave his country’s folk music into his compositions. Bohuslav Martinů was another prolific composer who created fifteen operas, seven symphonies, fifteen ballets, and a host of works in a variety of other forms during his lifetime. Belfast native Sir James Galway has been nicknamed “The Man With the Golden Flute”. Sir James has over sixty recordings to his credit.

Photos: Jean Sibelius/; Manuel Ponce/;  Bohuslav Martinu/ CC BY-SA 3.0 cz; Sir James Galway/Paul Cox

Thursday, December 2023

This evening the Thursday Night Opera House presents Richard Wagner’s Siegfried. In the dramatic third installment of the Ring Cycle by Richard Wagner, the action continues with an attempt to forge a magic sword to kill an evil dragon. A strange wanderer appears—Wotan in disguise.

The curtain goes up at 7 p.m. Tell your smart speaker to “Play The Classical Station.”

On December 7, we observe the birthday of two composers and an organist: Italian composer Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945), American composer Richard Felciano (1930-), and American organist Daniel Chorzempa (1944-2023).

Pietro Antonio Stefano Mascagni wrote fifteen operas of which Cavalleria Rusticana was the most famous. Felciano studied with Darius Milhaud and Luigi Dallapiccola. He is a Professor Emeritus of Music, at the University of California, Berkeley, California. While he was well-regarded as an organist, Dr. Chorzempa also studied architecture and held a Ph.D. in musicology and Renaissance studies.

Photos: Pietro Mascagni/Library of Congress; Richard Felciano (1986)/; Daniel Chorzempa/

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Do you like challenging yourself on a daily basis? Do you wish that they had a Musical Jeopardy? Well, you are in luck! Katherine Hill, host of As You Like It, has just that for you! She has a weekly Enigma Monday-Thursday where she poses a question based on the background of a musician, composer, or style of music. She then plays a selection related to that question in her program and even announces your name in the program!

Come and be one of her Enigmites! Monday through Thursday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Today we observe the birthday of Polish composer Henryk Mikołaj Górecki (1933-2010). He composed in a variety of styles ranging from serialism to romantic modernism. He generally is considered the greatest Polish composer of his era. Listen to New York Public Radio’s account of his legacy here.

Photo:, Fair Use

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

If you are in the Triangle area of North Carolina, and looking for concerts to attend, this is the time of the year when just about every choral and instrumental ensemble mounts a holiday concert. We have listings on our Arts Calendar.

On December 5 we observe the birthdays of Italian composer Francesco Geminiani (1687-1762), Czech composer Vitezslav Novák (1870-1949), Spanish tenor José Carreras (1946-), and Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman (1956-).

Signor Geminiani was a student of Alessandro Scarlatti and Arcangelo Corelli before setting off to England, where he spent much of his adult life as a violin virtuoso and composer. Vitezslav Novák founded what might be called the modern school of Czech composition. He studied with Antonín Dvořák. Josep Maria Carreras i Coll is a tenor known for his roles in Verdi and Puccini operas. He was also a member of the Three Tenors, along with Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti. Krystian Zimerman got his career as a concert pianist off to a fine start by winning the International Chopin Piano Competition in 1975.

Photos: Francesco Geminiani and Vitezslav Novák/Public Domain on; José Carreras/Gran Teatro Liceo de Barcelona/Archivo EFE; Krystian Zimerman/Kasskara/DG

Monday, December 4, 2023

The December edition of My Life in Music features Mary Willan Mason, daughter of the late composer Dr. Healey Willan. My Life in Music is made possible by our listeners and by The Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle. Don’t miss their mid-season finale performance in Chapel Hill this Saturday, December 9. More information at their website.

Join Rob Kennedy for My Life In Music at 7 p.m. Eastern.

This evening, Monday Night at the Symphony features the Chamber Orchestra of Europe which was founded in 1981. The program includes music by Franz Schubert, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, conducted by Claudio Abbado and Nikolas Harnoncourt.

The concert begins at 8 p.m. Eastern.

On December 4 we observe the birthdays of French composer André Campra (1660-1744) and Irish conductor and composer Sir Hamilton Harty (1879-1941).

Besides being the director of music at the cathedrals in Arles, Toulouse, and Notre Dame in Paris, Monsieur Campra wrote over fifteen operas in addition to three books of cantatas. Highly regarded as an accompanist, Sir Hamilton Harty conducted the Halle Orchestra from 1920 to 1933.

Photo: André Campra, Nicolas Edelinck after André Bouys (1656–1740), Public Domain; Sir Hamilton Harty, Unknown, Public Domain,