It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Your guide to holiday programming on WFMT

By Keegan Morris |

Share this Post

Throughout December, WFMT will share holiday music. We've selected some of the highlight programs to make your spirits bright!

For all WFMT's festive music, videos, stories, quizzes, and more, visit Holiday Central.

If you're looking for even more classical holiday music, enjoy this selection of 8 of the year's best classical Christmas albums from host Lisa Flynn, or a playlist of Christmas music favorites from the Vienna Boys Choir.

Monday, December 3

10:00 pm — Itzhak Perlman's Hanukkah Radio Party
The famed violinist shares his favorite music for the Jewish Festival of Lights.

Chanticleer (Photo: Lisa Kohler)Tuesday, December 4

1:30 pm — Impromptu | Chanticleer
Chanticleer, a leading male vocal ensemble, returns to WFMT’s Fay and Daniel Levin Performance Studio to share songs of the holiday season. 

Wednesday, December 5

10:00 pm — Baroque&Before | Solomon Rossi and his Contemporaries
Host Candice Agree shares this program, as soprano Sherezade Panthaki joins Philharmonia Baroque Chamber Players and members of the Philharmonia Chorale, under the direction of Nicholas McGegan, for Italian baroque music of the synagogue, the theater, and the court: sacred and secular works by Salamone Rossi, Claudio Monteverdi, and Benedetto Marcello.

Friday, December 7

12:00 pm — Music in Chicago | Holiday Selections
On December 7, 14, and 21, we'll hear holiday music from Chicago area ensembles, including Newberry Consory, Music of the Baroque, and Chicago A Cappella.

11:00 pm — Best of Studs Terkel | Hannukah
It was in December 1988 that Studs Terkel presented this musical tribute to Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights. The hour begins with songs of Martha Schlamme and Theo Bikel, and some klezmer music, too. In the second half, Studs reads Grace Paley’s short story, “Good-bye and Good Luck”.

Saturday, December 8

4:30 pm — Arias and Songs with Larry Johnson | For the Children
The holiday season is always about children and the child that lives within us. We will hear lullabies by Kathleen Battle, Boris Christoff, Marilyn Horne and Ian Bostridge. The prayer from 
Hansel and Gretel is sung by Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Elisabeth Grummer. The Vienna Boys Choir sing a chorus from Bizet’s Carmen as well.

Sunday, December 9

6:00 am — With Heart and Voice | Advent II, Prophets and Prophecy
On this edition of With Heart and Voice, we’ll listen to choral and organ music of prophecy, both from the Old Testament prophets, and from the New Testament story of John the Baptist.  Lovely music from a variety of sources.

Friday, December 14

12:00 pm — Music in Chicago | Holiday Selections
On December 7, 14, and 21, we'll hear holiday music from Chicago area ensembles, including Newberry Consory, Music of the Baroque, and Chicago A Cappella.

Sunday, December 16

6:00 am — With Heart and Voice | Advent III, Song of Mary
Mary, Mother of Jesus, features prominently in this program of music celebrating her, and her response to the news that she will give birth to the Christ Child in the Magnificat.  Join Peter DuBois for this important step on the Advent journey.

Monday, December 17

8:00 pm — Live from WFMT | Joel Spears and Friends
Lutist Joel Spears returns to WFMT with an early music ensemble to perform an early 17th century Christmas oratorio. The program features lutenist/guitarist Joel Spears, The Strangers, an early music vocal ensemble, plus accompaniment by harp, violin, organ, harpsichord, and theorbo.

10:00 pm — The Film Score | Music for the Winter Holidays
Michael Phillips, film critic of the Chicago Tribune, discusses and samples winter-holiday music from film classics.

Wednesday, December 19

10:00 pm — Baroque&Before | French and German Baroque Christmas Music
On this special two-hour Christmas edition of Baroque&Before, host Candice Agree presents a Bach Concert for Christmas from Austria’s Sankt Pölten Cathedral, recorded live in concert December 8th; as well as a French Baroque Christmas from Montreal, recorded live in concert December 9th.

Friday, December 21

12:00 pm — Music in Chicago | Holiday Selections
We'll hear Christmas music recorded in performance around the city, including selections from Handel's Messiah with Camerata Chicago, Britten's Ceremony of Carols with Bella Voce, and carols from the Wicker Park Choral Singers and the St. Charles Singers.

11:00 pm — Best of Studs Terkel | Christmas Memories
This program is WFMT's annual broadcast of "Christmas Memories," the perennial favorite that first aired in 1961.

Saturday, December 22

11:00 am — Introductions | From the Midwest to Vienna: A Holiday Celebration
Join us for a holiday-themed episode featuring young musicians from the Midwest and beyond. We’ll hear the Midwest Young Artists Conservatory’s I’Solisti, a MYAC chamber orchestra, performing Johann Sebastian Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F major, as well as recordings of the Vienna Boys’ Choir singing traditional carols in WFMT’s Levin Performance Studio.

4:30 pm — Arias and Songs with Larry Johnson | A Program for the Holidays
The holiday season is upon us. Wishing us joy this year are Kiri Te Kanawa, Bryn Terfel, Kirsten Flagstad, Fritz Wunderlich, the Choir of Trinity School, and Il Volo.

7:00 pm — Fiesta! with Elbio Barilari | Latin American Christmas Carols
A selection of villancicos or Christmas carols from Spain and Latin America are featured on this Christmas themed program from Fiesta. Join us for music that spans several centuries and a great diversity of influences and traditions.

Sunday, December 23

6:00 am — With Heart and Voice | A Christmas Festival
This program shares sacred choral and organ treasures of the season. 

1:00 pm — Handel's Messiah
What holiday season would be complete without it? Hear Part One and the Hallelujah Chorus of Handel's incredible oratorio. Ivars Taurins conducts Karina Gauvin, soprano; Robin Blaze, countertenor; Rufus Müller, tenor; Brett Polegato, baritone; in performance with the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir and Baroque Orchestra.

Monday, December 24

9:00 am — Live from King's College, Cambridge University
The King's College Chapel Choir performs in its annual Festival of Lessons and Carols.

Monday, December 24 through Friday, December 28 at 7:00 pm — Exploring Music with Bill McGlaughlin | Bach's Christmas Oratorio
A weeklong exploration of the Christmas Oratorio, the six Bach cantatas that were written to correspond with the days of the Lutheran church year. The week's programs begin with Cantata No. 1 and end with Cantata No. 6.

10:00 pm — Encore Broadcast: Critical Thinking with Andrew Patner
Andrew Patner, WFMT's late critic-at-large, explores the rich world of Eastern Orthodox church music for the Christmas season.

Tuesday, December 25

Hear Christmas programming throughout the day!

Wednesday, December 26

10:00 pm — Baroque&Before | Ave Atque Vale: Hail & Farewell
As 2018 draws to a close, host Candice agree honors the life and work of four classical artists who died this past year, each of whom dedicated themselves to the performance and diffusion of early music.

Friday, December 28

11:00 pm — Best of Studs Terkel | New Year’s Eve, 1988
In the waning days of 1988, Studs Terkel was in a nostalgic mood as he assembled his final show of the year. It’s a free-association hour infused with music and memories of his youth.

Saturday, December 29

11:00 am — Introductions | A Musical Smorgasbord to Ring in the New Year
Our last edition of Introductions for 2018 is a musical smorgasbord, featuring highlights from an exciting year of performances given by young Chicago-based musicians and ensembles.

Sunday, December 30

6:00 am — With Heart and Voice | Christmastide
Joyous music of the season continues this week on With Heart and Voice, as Peter DuBois shares choral and organ favorites, both old and new!

Violinist and fiddler Mari Black performs her trademark novelty fiddling (Photo: Jason Jong)

Monday, December 31

8:00 pm — New Year's Eve Midnight Special with Rich Warren
Ring in 2019 with Rich Warren and a studio audience with this festive and fun celebration live from the Fay and Daniel Levin Performance Studio. Rich’s guests this year are are folk artists Mari Black, Tim Grimm, Joe Jencks, and SONiA of the band Disappear Fear.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

10:00 am — From Vienna with Love: The New Year's Concert
Conductor Christian Thielemann takes the podium at the Vienna Musikverein for the Vienna Philharmonic's annual New Year's concert, a program of music from the Strauss family.