This Week at The Classical Station

Photo: Hades2k,, CC BY SA 2.0

This Week at The Classical Station

by Rob Kennedy

Sunday, December 24, 2023

This morning Mick Anderson has planned the Christmas edition of Great Sacred Music to include performances by the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, the Niagara Brass Ensemble, and Chanticleer. Also on the program are works by William Byrd, Alessandro Scarlatti, Felix Mendelssohn, and many more. This week’s featured work is Part I of George Frideric Handel’s beloved oratorio, Messiah.

Great Sacred Music. 8 a.m. Eastern. Right after Sing for Joy.

On December 24 we observe the birthdays of German composer Peter Cornelius (1824-1874) and American composer Libby Larsen (1950-).

Herr Cornelius wrote operas and lieder. He is best known for his song The Three Kings from Weihnachtslieder op.8. Besides being a prolific composer, Ms. Larsen co-founded what is now known as the American Composers Forum with the late Stephen Paulus. Listen to Ms. Larsen talk about her life and work as a composer on our Conversations page.

Photos: Peter Cornelius, Unknown Author, Public Domain on; Libby Larsen by Ann Marsden

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Ekaterina Gubanova as Venus and Andreas Schager in the title role of Wagner’s “Tannhäuser.” Photo: Evan Zimmerman / Met Opera

The Metropolitan Opera’s 2023-24 Saturday matinee broadcast season continues with Tannhäuser, Richard Wagner’s drama about a legendary song contest and the struggle for a man’s soul. Tenor Andreas Schager stars as the conflicted title character, a knight who renounces a life of sensuality for a nobler goal.

Soprano Elza van den Heever is Elizabeth, whose love offers him his only chance of redemption. The cast also features Ekaterina Gubanova as the goddess Venus, Christian Gerhaher as Wolfram, and Georg Zeppenfeld as Landgraf Hermann. Maestro Sir Donald Runnicles conducts the Met Orchestra and Chorus in Wagner’s magnificent score. Intermissions will feature backstage interviews with the stars and the Opera Quiz.

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

Friday, December 22, 2023

The Metropolitan Opera presents
Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser
Saturday, December 23 at 1 p.m. Eastern

This year, Lullabies and Carols features the Choir of St. Thomas Church, New York, the Boston Camerata, and the Cambridge Singers singing Christmas music by Paul Edwards, Harold Darke, and John Rutter.

Lullabies and Carols airs this evening at 10 p.m. and Saturday at 1 a.m. Eastern.

Merry Christmas! Joyeux Noel! Feliz Navidad! from all of us here at The Classical Station.You come to The Classical Station to experience life at its fullest. You tune in to be exposed to and surprised by sounds you’ve not yet heard. You listen to connect with a form of expression that deepens our understanding of humanity. You come to The Classical Station because you find a curiosity, intelligence, and desire for excellence that is rare on the radio today.

The Classical Station is essential. And so is your financial support.  Give now to ensure a strong tomorrow filled with all the musical culture, insights, and entertainment you enjoy and expect. Your generous year-end gift will help us end 2023 in the black.

Donate securely online at or mail a check to The Classical Station, PO Box 828, Wake Forest, NC 27588. If you prefer, call us anytime. 800-556-5178.

On December 22 we observe the birthdays of German composer Carl Friedrich Abel (1723-1787), Austrian composer Franz Schmidt (1874-1939), French-born American composer Edgard Varèse (1883-1965), and Italian composer Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924).

Besides being a composer, Herr Abel was a virtuoso viola da gamba player. A pianist as well as a composer, Herr Schmidt was Professor of Piano at the Imperial Academy of Music and the Performing Arts in Vienna. Monsieur Varèse was prominent in using electronic and new instruments to create his music. Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini is considered by many to be the greatest composer of opera after Giuseppe Verdi. His operas La Bohème, Manon Lescaut, and Madama Butterfly are loved by audiences everywhere.

Photos: Carl Friedrich Abel, 1777 by Thomas Gainsborough; Franz Schmidt on; Edgard Varese, Public Domain on; Giacomo Puccini in Lucca, courtesy of Associazione Arte e Cultura Schivenoglia

Thursday, December 21, 2023

As 2023 draws to a close, we reflect on the moments that mattered most to us and imagine those yet to come. There is one thing you know: The Classical Station has been here for you throughout this year with all of its uncertainties. Every day The Classical Station offers you the opportunity to listen, to hear, and to cherish all the riches the world of classical music affords. The Classical Station provides a vital community tradition of arts and culture, heard and enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of listeners here in North Carolina and around the world.

This is a service worth backing.  Please, back it with your generous year-end contribution here on this website or our app. If you prefer, mail a check to The Classical Station, P.O. Box 828, Wake Forest, NC 27588.  And, you can call us anytime to have a member of staff take down the details of your contribution. 800-556-5178.

Christmas golden star ornaments at blue night

This evening the Thursday Night Opera House celebrates Christmas with an archival broadcast by the late Al Ruocchio. On the program will be dozens of opera stars singing music of the season.

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

Photo: Adobe Stock Photo

Few popular classical composers were familiar with the comfort of climate control and electrical lighting. On the shortest day of the year, spend some time enjoying a selection of pieces – by Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi, Grieg, and others – that remind us of both the beauty and hardship of the winter months on this longest day of the year.

On December 21 we observe the birthdays of Czech composer Zdenêk Fibich (1850-1900), Hungarian-born British pianist András Schiff (1953-), and American conductor Michael Tilson Thomas (1944-).

While not as well-known as his countrymen Antonin Dvorák or Bedrich Smetana, Zdenêk Fibich was a prolific composer who created hundreds of works in a variety of forms. Sir András Schiff is highly-regarded for his interpretations of Bach and Mozart. He has many recordings to his credit and has appeared in concert halls worldwide. Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony since 1995, Tilson Thomas established the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, Florida, in 1987. He has conducted most of the world’s major orchestras and has over 120 recordings to his credit.

Photo: Sir Andras Schiff  by Nadia F. Romanini

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Do you like challenging yourself daily? 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.

On December 20 we observe the birthday of Japanese-born British pianist Dame Mitsuko Uchida.

Besides appearing with most major orchestras and making dozens of recordings, Ms. Uchida is also the Artistic Director of the Marlboro Music Festival.

Photo: Richard Avedon

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Every time you give, you help keep the music playing on The Classical Station. Your support delivers the most captivating live performances from concert halls around the world to your living room. Your gift expands our collection of new composers that are thrilling listeners of all ages. And it ensures that classical music will always be available to everyone anywhere. Your year-end contribution now will make sure that this great tradition of classical music continues throughout 2024 and into the future.

Donate securely here on our website and on our app. If you prefer, call us anytime to make your contribution. 800-556-5178

On December 19 we observe the birthdays of French composer Louis-Nicolas Clérambault (1676-1749), Hungarian-born American conductor Fritz Reiner (1888-1963), and American-born French conductor William Christie (1944-).

Organist of Eglise Saint Sulpice in Paris, Monsieur Clérambault left us compositions for keyboards, as well as many sacred and secular choral works. Frederick Martin “Fritz” Reiner was the conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra before becoming music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1953-1962. Educated at Harvard and Yale, William Christie emigrated to France in the 70s where he founded the highly-regarded early music ensemble Les Arts Florissants. Happy 78th birthday, Maestro!

Photos: Portrait of  Louis-Nicolas Clérambault by Louis-Simon Lempereur, Public Domain on; Fritz Reiner/United Artists/Federal Films, Public Domain on; William Christie/Chris Christodoulou/BBC

Monday, December 18, 2023

This evening Monday Night at The Symphony features the Czech Philharmonic (Česká filharmonie) which was founded in 1895.  Sir Charles Mackerras, Jiří Bělohlávek, and Vaclav Neumann will lead performances of music by Smetana, Dvořák, Joseph Suk, and more.

The concert begins at 8 p.m. Eastern.

On December 18 we observe the birthdays of French piano maker Camille Pleyel (1788-1855), American composer Edward MacDowell (1860-1908), Swiss conductor Edmond de Stoutz (1820-1997), and English conductor William Boughton (1948-).

Joseph Étienne Camille Pleyel inherited the family piano-making business which supplied pianos to Frederic Chopin, among others. Edward MacDowell left us over sixty compositions even though he died at the young age of 48. His farm and the MacDowell organization in New Hampshire have become great incubators of the arts since his demise. Besides composing, he was well-known as a concert pianist and teacher. de Stoutz was the founder of the Zürcher Kammerorcheste. William Boughton is currently the Music Director of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and is on the faculty of the Yale School of Music. He has guest-conducted most of the world’s major orchestras.

Photos: William Boughton by S.M. Cooper