The sound of one, pure, solitary child's voice rings out each Christmas Eve at the Chapel of King's College in Cambridge. It heralds the beginning and the continuation of a heartfelt tradition known as A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. The service begins as it has since 1918, with a boy soprano singing the opening line to "Once in Royal David's City." It has grown into a symbol that signals it's time, after all of the hustle and bustle of preparing for the holiday, to settle down to the true meaning of Christmas and to focus on family traditions.
Each year, selected speakers from the King's College community read the lessons. These are woven among great anthems that originate from deep inside the storied English choral tradition. The choir not only performs the anthems every year, it also performs a newly-commissioned work, rooting the service firmly in the present and the past.
One of the great holiday traditions in America, the choirs of Morehouse and Spelman Colleges -- two of the most prestigious historically black institutions in the nation -- get together to present a spine-tingling concert program. It's a joyous celebration of the schools' tradition of singing excellence, with their trademark mixture of spirituals, carols, and sacred texts. NPR's Korva Coleman hosts.
NPR Music brings you another great concert from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Pianists Cyrus Chestnut, Kris Davis, Lynne Arriale and The "Master" Harold Mabern take the stage to perform their favorite holiday songs. Hosted by Felix Contreras.
The St. Olaf Christmas Festival is one of the oldest and most cherished celebrations of the holidays in the United States. Begun in 1912, the Festival is a worship service of hymns, carols, choral works and orchestral selections that celebrate the birth of Christ. Featuring more than 550 student musicians, it takes place on the St. Olaf campus in Northfield, Minnesota. The Festival is listed as one of five significant global holiday events in The New York Times International Datebook, and has been featured in hundreds of other publications, including TV Guide, The Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times.
Listeners tune to NPR for holiday stories of all kinds; funny, touching, insightful, and surprising. Hear the latest version of evergreen delights while driving to the mall, entertaining friends, or relaxing in front of a crackling fire. Hosted by Lynn Neary.
Join us for a very special holiday concert with Howard University's premiere vocal ensemble Afro Blue, and special guest pianist Cyrus Chestnut. The a-cappela group performs a variety of holiday songs including African-American spirituals, jazz and pop tunes, and classical repertoire. The joyous celebration includes one of a kind arrangements on traditional holiday songs plus new compositions... music perfect for the holidays and the spirit of Christmas. Hosted by Michele Norris.
It's the sixth edition of a weird holiday tradition from NPR Music. Host Bob Boilen and friends trade holiday cheer and snarky barbs while bringing you the best holiday songs from new and emerging breakout bands. Hear renditions of great holiday music you'll never hear at the mall or your mother's house.
December 22: You Might As Well Live: A Dorothy Parker Celebration
Guest host Jane Curtin presents sassy stories about sassy women from the legendary Dorothy Parker, including The Sexes, read by Parker Posey and The Standard of Living (two secretaries on a fantasy shopping spree), read by Hope Davis. A cranky coffee shop employee with amazing luck keeps them company in Robert Coover’s Waitress read by Sonia Manzano.
December 23: Compulsions
Guest host John Lithgow introduces two stories about compulsion. W.W. Jacobs The Monkey’s Paw has been keeping readers up at night since it was first published in 1902. The tale of a sinister relic brought from the mysterious East to a cozy suburban bungalow, may have some period touches, but is every bit as gripping as it was for its original audience. Our next story is Isabel Allende’s lyrical Two Words. In it, a resourceful young woman born into a family too poor to name their children reinvents herself as a broker of words. As her fame spreads, she attracts the attention of a guerrilla leader who wants to reinvent himself.
December 23: Eccentrics
Two great stories about eccentrics taking a stand are presented by guest host Stephen Colbert. It takes a brilliant eccentric like film director John Sayles to come up with an oxymoron like an “anarchists’ convention.” In his At the Anarchists’ Convention, fierce old lefties fight everything from the fruit cup to the manager at their annual banquet. In our second story, The Falls, by George Saunders, two inadequate men are faced with the same crisis. We know them only by their self-absorbed interior monologues, until the moment when each faces a situation that can't be ignored or fantasized about. Reader Rene Auberjonois hand-picked this one, which first appeared in The New Yorker.
The Capitol Steps, the only group in America that attempts to be funnier than the Congress, is a troupe of current and former Congressional staffers who monitor events and personalities on Capitol Hill, in the Oval Office, and in other centers of power and prestige around the world and then take a humorous look at serious issues while providing a nationwide laugh for millions...
Help say good-bye and good riddance to 2014 with the Capitol Steps and their annual year-end review. It’s all in their hour-long special of “Politics Takes a Holiday!” This year will feature all-new awards, such as: “Is that guy jumping the White House fence or is he just really into Michelle’s ‘Get Moving’ campaign?” “You say ISIS, I say ISIL. Let’s call the whole thing off.” And of course, “I scream, you scream, we all scream EBOLA!”
The New Year's tradition continues with jazz you can party to all night long. Toast of the Nation 2014/2015 travels to the Newport Jazz Festival, Winter Jazzfest, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Enjoy festive jazz sets with countdowns in three time zones. It's sure to be a nonstop celebration of musical fireworks that will keep you dancing and swinging all night long. Hosted by WBGO's Rhonda Hamilton.
The Vienna Philharmonic presents its annual salute to the waltz on New Year's Day 2015. The concert takes place under the baton of Zubin Mehta in the Golden Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna. Mehta, with whom the orchestra has enjoyed an artistic partnership for over 50 years, conducts the New Year's Concert for the fifth time. Hear the hit tunes of the Strauss family and others -- polkas, gallops and waltzes.
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