This Week at The Classical Station

by Rob Kennedy

Sunday, December 31, 2023

This morning Great Sacred Music includes performances by the St. Olaf Choir; Concerto Italiano; Wynton Marsalis; and Anthony Newman. You’ll hear works by J.S. Bach; Antonio Vivaldi; Felix Mendelssohn; and many more. Our featured work is L’Enfance du Christ by Hector Berlioz. Great Sacred Music. 8 a.m. Eastern. Right after Sing for Joy. With Mick Anderson.

On December 31 we observe the birthdays of Russian-born American violinist Nathan Milstein (1904-1992), Sir Stephen Cleobury (1948-2019),  and American composer Jennifer Higdon (1962-).

Milstein was considered one of the great violinists of the 20th century. Dr. Cleobury was Director of Music at King’s College, Cambridge from 1982-2019. Before his untimely death, Sir Stephen chatted with us about the King’s College Choir’s recording of the Durufle Requiem. Dr. Higdon is the Milton L. Rock Chair in Composition Studies at The Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia. You can hear a conversation we had with Jennifer on our Conversations With Composers page on this website.

Saturday, December 30, 2023

The Metropolitan Opera’s 2023-24 season of Saturday matinee broadcasts continues this holiday weekend with a treat from the company’s archives: two immortal voices – soprano Victoria de los Angeles and bass Cesare Siepi – starring in Mozart’s best-loved comedy, Le Nozze di Figaro. This 1956 broadcast is being aired in celebration of the centennial of these great artists. De los Angeles stars as the Countess Almaviva and Siepi is Figaro, the clever servant who teams up with the Countess – and his own fiancée Susanna – in trying to punish the Count for his philandering ways. Max Rudolf conducted a cast also featuring Nadine Conner, Frank Guarrera, and Mildred Miller.

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

On December 30 we observe the birthdays of Russian composer Dmitry Kabalevsky (1904-1987), English conductor Sir David Willcocks (1919-2015), and American composer Nancy van de Vate (1930-2023).

Besides being a composer of some note in Soviet Russia, Kabalevsky wrote music for children in an effort to connect them with serious music. Sir David Willcocks was one of the most respected and influential choral conductors of the 20th century. His seventeen years (1957-1974) as music director of King’s College Choir, Cambridge, inspired choirs and choral directors worldwide. A prolific composer, New Jersey native Nancy van de Vate was a resident of Vienna, Austria,  where she taught composition at the Institute for European Studies.

Photos: Dmitri Kabalevsky, author unknown on; Sir David Willcocks by Maggie Heywood; Nancy van de Vate, Unknown Author, American Composers Alliance

Friday, December 29, 2023

The Metropolitan Opera presents
Wolfgang  Amadeus Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro
Saturday, December 30 at 1 p.m. Eastern

If you work for or have retired from a company with a matching gift program, your contribution to WCPE, The Classical Station, can make twice the impact on the Great Classical Music you rely on and the programs you love! That’s because your employer can match your gift dollar for dollar. Some companies even double or triple the amount of your gift, all at no cost to you! Both Sustaining and single contributions can be matched.

Visit our Matching Gift page to see if your employer participates. Thank you for your support.

On December 29 we observe the birthdays of Spanish cellist Pablo Casals (1876-1973) and Welsh conductor Grant Llewellyn (1960-).

A native of Catalonia, Spain, Pau Casals i Defilló was quite simply one of the greatest cellists of the 20th century. Maestro Llewellyn is the Music Director Laureate of the North Carolina Symphony and the Orchestre Symphonique de Bretagne.

Photos: Grant Llewellyn/Michael Zirkle; Pablo Casals from Library of Congress Photographs, Public Domain on

Thursday, December 28, 2023

We’re within striking distance of hitting our End Of Year Fund Drive Goal. Your response to our letters and on-air appeals has been magnificent! Thank you so much!

If you plan to send in a check via the United States Postal Service, make sure it is postmarked by December 31, for it to be tax-deductible on your 2023 tax return. If you prefer to speak with a member of staff, call any time.  800-556-5178. You can also give securely online here on our website and our app.

The staff and volunteers of The Classical Station wish you a very Happy New Year!

This evening the Thursday Night Opera House presents a holiday double bill: Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel & Gian Carlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors. Humperdinck’s beautiful orchestration accompanies a well-known fairytale, filled with luscious melodies, folk music, and dances! In Amahl and the Night Visitors, the Magi stop for a rest at the home of Amahl and his mother, where they witness a Christmas miracle.

The curtain goes up at 7 p.m. Eastern.

On December 28 we observe the birthdays of Portuguese composer João Domingos Bomtempo (1775-1842). and English violinist Nigel Kennedy (1956-).

The son of an Italian court musician, Bontempo was the first Director of the National Conservatory of Portugal. Kennedy is at home with a variety of musical genres, including classical, jazz, and klezmer.

Photos: João Domingos Bomtempo, 1814 portrait by Henrique José da Silva in Museu Nacional da Música on; Nigel Kennedy/Nicholas Hudek

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Why do our listeners support The Classical Station? Because it is an oasis of calm in unsettling times. Because it is always there. A constant companion.  Thank you to everyone who has sent in a contribution for our End Of Year Fund Drive.

With just 5 days left in 2023, there’s still time to make your tax-deductible contribution to The Classical Station. If you are mailing us a check to WCPE, P.O. Box 828, Wake Forest, NC, make sure it is postmarked by December 31.  Give securely online or on our app. Or call anytime. 800-556-5178.

The staff and volunteers of The Classical Station thank you for your support of our great classical music and wish you a very Happy New Year!

On December 27 we observe the birthday of English organist Sir John Goss (1800-1880). Sir John composed the familiar tune Lauda Anima for the hymn “Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven”. He was Organist of St. Paul’s Cathedral from 1838 until shortly before his death.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Like many non-profits, we count on our End of the Year Fund Drive to raise the money we need to balance our budget. For those of you who have never been to our studios in Wake Forest, North Carolina, I, a Canadian of Scottish descent, want to reassure you that we are extremely frugal with the money you give us. While everything works and does what it is supposed to do, there’s nothing fancy or extravagant about the station’s furnishings and fittings. Most of it is donated or bought second-hand. Indeed, our very first 1,000-watt transmitter was built from army surplus parts. Our focus is on bringing you Great Classical Music 24 hours a day.

This photo shows the Wide Orbit screen on the left, our WaveCart screen on the right, and then a rack containing 4 CD players we use if the automation system malfunctions. The music always keeps playing at The Classical Station.

To that end, we have spent significant amounts of money on a state-of-the-art automation system and top-of-the-line music scheduling software over the years. We use Wide Orbit Automation For Radio  to broadcast our great classical music online on our website, on our app, and on dozens of streaming platforms. MusicMaster handles the scheduling part of bringing our programs to you.  The photo shows a printed playlist from which our announcers work. This is the end result of MusicMaster’s work. This sophisticated, powerful database application also allows the Music Director to manage our library of over 17,000 CDs and downloaded tracks. (Yes, downloads are becoming the new way of delivering classical music. Physical CDs have been in a death spiral for many years.)

My point is simply that we have always spent money on bringing the music to you. And we do not intend to change that approach. Give securely online, on our app, or call 800-556-5178. Remember that you can call and speak with a real live human being 24/7 here at The Classical Station. That’s one of the things that makes us special.

After you have made your gift, be sure to select a Thank You Gift. Or if you prefer, you can donate a portion of your gift to the WCPE Education Fund. Thank you for your support of the music you love so much!

Monday, December 25, 2023
Christmas Day

Thank you for your support of The Classical Station. Your generous gift makes our programming of great classical music possible here in Central North Carolina on our 89.7 FM signal, online, and on our app.

Merry Christmas from all of us at The Classical Station!

Photo: Crèche de Noël, Oratoire Saint-Joseph, Montréal, Quebec, Canada, Pierre5018, CC-SA 4.0 International

On December 25 we observe the birthdays of English composer Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625) and American conductor Louis Lane (1923-2016).

Orlando Gibbons was a chorister at King’s College, Cambridge, where his brother Edward was the Master of the Choristers. Maestro Lane was involved with a number of American orchestras including the Cleveland Orchestra and the Atlanta Symphony.

Photos: Orlando Gibbons, Public Domain on; Louis Lane courtesy the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra