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CHICAGO – November 9, 2023 – WFMT classical radio will present a variety of holiday specials and concerts throughout December that explore the background and celebrate the traditions of holidays all over the world. New holiday programming this year includes performances from ensembles around the globe and specials that examine traditional and contemporary customs of Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa.

Candles Burning Brightly
Celebrate the Jewish Festival of Lights on its first day with music from Jewish communities around the world. Hosted by Mindy Ratner, Candles Burning Brightly offers a wealth of entertaining music, a hilarious lesson on how to prepare a classic Hanukkah dish, and a timeless and touching holiday story.
Thursday, December 7 • 8:00 pm

Miracle of Miracles: Music for Hanukkah
The vocal ensemble Chicago a cappella highlights the creativity and vitality of American Jewish musical traditions in their most recent recording, Miracle of Miracles: Music for Hanukkah. Louise Frank visits with the ensemble and shares some of their inspiring music.
Tuesday, December 12 • 8:00 pm

Baroque&Before: Judas Maccabaeus
The story of Judas Maccabaeus is central to Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. Candice Agree showcases the stylish Berlin Academy for Ancient Music in an exciting concert performance of Handel’s oratorio Judas Maccabaeus recorded in Berlin. Experience Handel’s musical telling of the Maccabaeus saga in music of unprecedented refinement, gripping suspense, and dramatic verve.
Wednesday, December 13 • 10:00 pm

Christmas Around the World
Each day this week, Candice Agree takes you to a new city to explore carols, holiday folk melodies, and classical Christmas traditions from concert halls far and wide.
Monday-Friday, December 18-22 • 5:00 pm

St. Olaf Christmas Festival
Founded in 1912, the St. Olaf Christmas Festival celebrates the Nativity through hymns, carols, and choral and orchestral music performed by St. Olaf College ensembles, joined by the Manitou Singers and the Viking Chorus.
Monday, December 18 • 8:00 pm
Sunday, December 24 • 5:00 pm [REPEAT]

Apollo’s Fire: Christmas on Sugarloaf Mountain
Recorded live in concert in the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Gartner Auditorium, the acclaimed period instrument ensemble Apollo’s Fire explores the history of Appalachia’s Irish and Scottish roots through music. Enjoy this lively celebration complete with fiddlers, medieval harp, hammered dulcimer, bagpipes, singers, and children’s voices, all led by Artistic Director Jeannette Sorrell.
Tuesday, December 19 • 8:00 pm [REPEAT]

Welcome Christmas!
Travel to Minneapolis to hear one of the premiere American choral ensembles, VocalEssence, in their annual celebration of the season. Welcome Christmas! brings you an entertaining mix of traditional carols and new discoveries – recorded live in concert – in VocalEssence’s beautiful signature style.
Wednesday, December 20 • 8:00 pm

Host Candice Agree takes you to concerts by two of the world’s leading period instrument ensembles – first, to Sweden to hear Concerto Copenhagen, led by Lars Ulrik Mortensen in spirited Christmas concertos by Vivaldi, Corelli, and others. Then she goes to an intimate historic salon in Dgánsk, Poland for Il Giardino Armonico’s take on music from 17th century Italy.
Wednesday, December 20 • 10:00 pm

This is Christmas with the Imani Winds
Enjoy music and conversation with the trailblazing ensemble Imani Winds. Hosted by Scott Blankenship, this lively hour spotlights music from their album This Christmas with Imani Winds, woven with the stories behind their unique and inspiring take on music of the season.
Thursday, December 21 • 8:00 pm 

Sounds Classical
Hosts Kristina Lynn and LaRob K. Rafael celebrate the holidays by looking, and listening, into some unique approaches to the music of the season.
Friday, December 22 • 8:00 pm

The New York Philharmonic This Week
The New York Philharmonic offers a complete performance of one of the season’s musical crown jewels, Handel’s Messiah. Masaaki Suzuki leads the orchestra with soprano Sherezade Panthaki, countertenor Reginal Mobley, tenor Leif Auruhn Solén, and baritone Jonathon Adams. In a special collaboration, Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society Chorus appears in this performance.
Friday, December 22 • 9:00 pm

Best of Studs Terkel: Christmas Memories
This program brims with voices and memories from childhood Christmases long ago. Studs first offered this special program on WFMT in 1961; this is the annual rebroadcast of this Studs favorite.
Friday, December 22 • 11:00 pm [REPEAT]

Fiesta! with Elbio Barilari
Discover the Christmas music of 18th century Brazilian church composer José Maurício Nunes Garcia as Elbio highlights a new recording of his monumental mass.
Saturday, December 23 • 7:00 pm

Folkstage: From the Archives
Revisit a special Folkstage performance recorded at Prairie Crossing in Grayslake, Illinois in December 2000. Longtime friends Priscilla Herdman, Anne Hills, and Cindy Mangsen performed a sparkling holiday concert combining music from their two acclaimed seasonal albums, Voices of Winter and At the Turning of the Year.
Saturday, December 23 • 8:00 pm [REPEAT]

The Midnight Special
Join host Marilyn Rea Beyer for holiday favorites and new seasonal songs from around the world, including a timeless interpretation of Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Chicago’s own Celtic duo of Jimmy Keane and Pat Broaders. The program also includes Gospel standards, Quebecois carols, and songs for lighting Kwanzaa candles.
Saturday, December 23 • 9:00 pm

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols
A beloved Christmas Eve tradition, this piece sets a tone for Christmas Eve both completive and celebratory. This inspiring service of Biblical readings, carols, and seasonal music airs live around the world from the 500-year-old Chapel of King’s College, in Cambridge, England.
Sunday, December 24 • 9:00 am and 10:00 pm

Winter Holidays Around the World with Bill McGlaughlin
No matter which winter holiday traditions you observe, the music is enthralling. From medieval Christmas music to Dave Brubeck’s La Fiesta de la Posada and a Polynesian traditional hymn to Amahl and the Night Visitors, Exploring Music host Bill McGlaughlin takes you on a fascinating journey through music and time.
Sunday, December 24 • 7:00 pm

Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Hear music for the holidays from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra archives, anchored by Part I of Handel’s Messiah with the orchestra, chorus, and soloists led by Sir Georg Solti. Also enjoy festive music from the CSO’s renowned brass section, and Fritz Reiner leading selections from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker.
Sunday, December 24 • 8:00 pm

Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker
From the Waltz of the Snowflakes to the Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy, few pieces of music capture the spirit of the season quite like Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker. We take you to Paris for a live performance of this perennial favorite recorded earlier this month. Enjoy the complete Nutcracker ballet with the French National Orchestra and conductor Petr Popelka.
Monday, December 25 • 5:00 pm

Holidays with Music of the Baroque
Music of the Baroque’s Holiday Brass & Choral Concerts are an annual Chicago favorite. This performance, recorded in December 2022 at Saints Faith, Hope & Charity Catholic Church in Winnetka, is led by conductor Andrew Megill. Enjoy this festive celebration brimming with beautiful music for the season.
Monday, December 25 • 8:00 pm

Kwanzaa Stories with LaRob K. Rafael
Kwanzaa is an African American celebration of family, history, identity, and community, a time to come together in remembrance of the past and in honor of the future of Black American culture. On each of the seven days of Kwanzaa, LaRob shares a reflection and a piece of music that exemplifies one of Kwanzaa’s seven principles.
Tuesday, December 26 – Monday, January 1 • 6:00 pm

New Year’s Eve with WFMT
Whether you’re out and about or relaxing at home, ring in the New Year with the voices you know and love. Dennis, Lisa, Candice, Kerry, LaRob, Kristina, Robbie and others share some of their favorite music and offer an entertaining soundtrack to keep you in good company for the last two hours of 2023.
Sunday, December 31 • 10:00 pm 

The 2024 Vienna Philharmonic New Year’s Concert
The famed Vienna Philharmonic offers “a greeting of hope, friendship, and peace” in its annual New Year’s Day concert, broadcast live around the world from the lavish Golden Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna. Conductor Christian Thielemann leads this year’s performance of favorites including the Radetzky March and the Blue Danube Waltz, along with some lesser known but equally sparkling music by the Strauss family and others.
Monday, January 1 • 10:00 am and 8:00 pm

Minnesota Orchestra New Year’s Celebration
The Minnesota Orchestra welcomes 2024 with Leonard Bernstein’s effervescent Overture to Candide and the luxuriant storytelling of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. Pianist Awadagin Pratt joins in for Jesse Montgomery’s Rounds for Piano, a work she wrote specifically for Pratt. Mei-Ann Chen, music director of the Chicago Sinfonietta, leads this concert as guest conductor.
Monday, January 1 • 10:00 pm

WFMT is one of the world’s most respected classical music radio stations, accessible via broadcast at 98.7FM, streaming live at, and on the WFMT app. Recognized for trusted hosted programming, immersive live performances and concerts, strong partnerships with community organizations and championing young, local musicians and access to the arts, WFMT spotlights inspiring music, musicians, and musical performances from Chicago and around the world including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Sinfonietta, Lyric Opera of Chicago, the New York Philharmonic, and many more. Connect with WFMT on Facebook and Twitter.