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As we travel through the year, Classical 91.5 will present a number of seasonal or holiday specials. Come back to this page on a regular basis to find out what specials we're offering to delight you and enrich your holiday celebrations.

Holiday traditions and more on Exploring Music, December 2019


Week of December 2, 2019 - Invitation to the Dance, Part II Five hours of music composed for the stage, opera, and ballet — or music composed for dramatic representations. We start with Jean-Baptiste Lully, an Italian-born French composer, instrumentalist, and as Bills says, “the most ‘dancingist’ composer who ever lived.” We’ll also focus on ballet music by Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Schubert and even Beethoven! On Wednesday’s program we will dance to Bartok’s Miraculous Mandarin suite and The Wooden Prince, Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty, and a charming suite of dances from Manuel de Falla’s Three-Cornered Hat.  

Week of December 9, 2019 - Jewel of the Holiday Season The New York String Seminar at Carnegie Hall - To the traditional favorites— Nutcracker & Messiah, skating at Rockefeller Center, add one more wonderful tradition: The New York String Orchestra concerts at Carnegie Hall, starting their sixth decade. Bill McGlaughlin spent two days with these extraordinarily gifted young musicians from around the world, as conductor Jaime Laredo prepared them for a Christmas Eve concert with pianist Yefim Bronfman and another with violinist Joshua Bell, and alumna guest conductor Karina Canellakis for the opening work. To celebrate this 50th anniversary 20 alumni— soloists, chamber musicians, and principal orchestral players—from Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles sat next to the students to play Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6, “Pathétique”. Spend this week sitting-in on the making of this great tradition from the New School's Mannes School of Music.

Week of December 16, 2019 - I Hear a Rhapsody We've borrowed our title from the 1941 jazz standard, but what is a rhapsody? In music, Grove defines a rhapsody as "an episodic instrumental composition of indefinite form." Rhapsodies came to be based on folk melodies, and composers in the 19th century began writing rhapsodies for chamber music and for symphonic orchestras. There are Hungarian Rhapsodies, Slavonic Rhapsodies, Blue Rhapsodies, Rhapsodies of Fire, and Bohemian Rhapsodies. Spend a week with us as Bill riffs on rhapsodies, and together we'll explore what it is about this "indefinite form" that has attracted composers from around the world and across the centuries.

Week of December 23, 2019 - George Frideric Handel  GF Handel, born the same year as JS Bach and Giuseppe Domenico Scarlatti — 1685 — had a distinct sound that married his German roots with his new country of England. We’ll have a weeklong look at the life and music of England’s most celebrated German composer. Since the Baroque era, many of his works are played every year since their first hearing, which is now almost 300 hundred years ago. And a good hour into the Messiah we all stand for the Hallelujah chorus just as George II did.

Week of December 30, 2019 - Some of My Best Friends Are Virtuosi Over the decades that Bill has conducted orchestras and hosted radio programs, he feels very fortunate to have worked with and become friends with many prominent musicians. In this program, Bill will feature some of these virtuosic musicians whom he has watched grow and has admired for many years. To highlight this warm spirit of musical friendships, Bill has chosen many works that composers have written for their best friends, who also happen to be virtuosi. Five hours of gorgeous rich tones and great melodies like Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto played by pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, Brahms’ Clarinet Quintet featuring the Pacifica Quartet and their friend Anthony McGill, and Chopin’s Cello Sonata with pianist Garrick Ohlsson accompanying cellist Carter Brey.