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Explore our 2023 Holiday Programming Schedule

Sixteen Miles Out

Add some holiday cheer to your regular classical listening with our special fall & winter holiday programming. From Hanukkah and Christmas to Kwanzaa and New Year's Eve, enjoy music fit for any and every celebration this season.


December 21 at 8 pm: In Winter's Glow 

A winter solstice program, with modern classical sounds for the longest night of the year, chosen especially to compliment the chilly, starry nights of the season.

(This program is airing in place of The Kansas City Symphony on Classical KC)

December 23 at 8 pm and December 24 at 1 pm: The City Come Again 2023

Since 1982 William Jewell College has partnered with Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral to present "The City Come Again" as a gift in music and word to Kansas City. Dr. Ian Coleman, Chair of the Department of Performing Arts at William Jewell College, hosts this program of students and faculty presenting seasonal music, poetry, and more. This broadcast is from a live recording on December 11, 2023.

(This program is airing in place of The Kansas City Local Feature)

December 23 at 11 am and December 24 at 6 pm: From the Archives: Christmas 2023

Enjoy a Christmas playlist with music from the 16th to the 20th century. It’s like a musical progressive dinner! Enjoy while you baste, sip, and wrap.

December 24 at 9 am: A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

An annual and beloved Christmas tradition, "A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols" is an extraordinary and memorable service of word and music from the Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge, England.

(This program is airing in place of Sunday Baroque)

December 24 at 11 am: The Ballad of the Brown King and Other Music for Christmas by Black Composers 

Dr. Louise Toppin, a preeminent performer and scholar specializing in the concert repertoire of African American composers, presents the world premiere recording of Margaret Bonds’s The Ballad of the Brown King (Avie Records, 2018). With a libretto by Langston Hughes, this Christmas cantata focuses on Balthazar, the dark-skinned king who journeyed to Bethlehem to witness the birth of Jesus Christ. This gorgeous work is beautifully interpreted by New York City-based The Dessoff Choirs and Orchestra, soloists soprano Laquita Mitchell, mezzo-soprano Lucia Bradford, and tenor Noah Stewart with Malcolm J. Merriweather at the podium.

In this special, we are especially honored to share two exclusive world premiere recordings of Margaret Bonds’s arrangements of the spirituals Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow, and Go Tell It on the Mountain. Generously provided by Dr. Toppin, these exceptional performances were recorded earlier this year at the University of Michigan and are presented by soprano Amber Merritt and tenor Tyrese Byrd, with Dr. Toppin at the piano

December 24 at 4 pm: Anticipation and Celebration: Advent With the Montserrat Boy Choir

Perched atop the mountains near Barcelona, the choir of the Benedictine Abbey of Santa Maria de Montserrat is one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious boy choirs. For the first time in their 800-year history, the choir made its Midwest premiere. Bringing with them a message of peace, the choristers will use music to transcend borders and speak directly to your heart.

In this special the ensemble sings a wide range of works. From Gregorian Chant to pieces by contemporary Spanish composer Bernat Vivancos (b.1972), the Monserrat Boy Choir sing with style and an attention to detail that is sure to enthrall listeners.

(This program is airing in place of The Kansas City Symphony on Classical KC)

December 25 at 1 pm: St. Olaf Christmas Festival

The St. Olaf Christmas Festival is a chance for listeners across the country and around the world to participate in one of the nation’s most treasured holiday celebrations. Programming includes sacred choral and instrumental music from many traditions: beloved hymns, classical masterworks, folk songs from around the world, and African-American spirituals.


December 28 at 8 pm: The Sounds of Kwanzaa

During the aftermath of the Watts Uprisings in the 1960s, Dr. Maulana Karenga decided to create a special December holiday designed for Black people to celebrate themselves, their culture, and their future liberation. Today, Kwanzaa is still celebrated by not only Afro-Americans, but Black people around the globe! In this broadcast, Garrett McQueen offers a background on the history of Kwanzaa and its guiding principles, alongside musical selections that highlight the spirit of the celebration. The show features the compositions of Florence Price, Duke Ellington, Sean O’Loughlin, and special performances by Imani Winds.

(This program is airing in place of The Kansas City Symphony on Classical KC)

New Year's

December 31 - 4 pm: Minnesota Orchestra New Year’s Celebration

Ring in the new year with the Minnesota Orchestra! The program opens with Bernstein’s animated Overture to Candide. Awadagin Pratt performs the Minnesota premiere of Jessie Montgomery’s Rounds for Piano and Orchestra, a work written for him. A New Year’s celebration wouldn’t be complete without adventure and passion, and the Orchestra brings that in multitudes in Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s beloved Scheherazade.

(This program is airing in place of The Kansas City Symphony on Classical KC)

January 1, 2024 at 10 am: New Year's Day from Vienna LIVE  

The Vienna Philharmonic and conductor Daniel Berenboim present its ever popular annual New Year's Day concert from the Golden Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna. You'll hear your favorite waltzes, polkas and more -- a festive way to start off the New Year. It's presented by NPR Music and hosted by WBUR's Lisa Mullins.

Previous Programs


November 23 at 8 pm and November 26 at 4 pm: Giving Thanks

Giving Thanks shares music and stories that reflect the meaning of gratitude on Thanksgiving.

Special guest Ada Limon is the new Poet Laureate of the US. She joins our Thanksgiving table to read her poems and talk about how poetry amplifies gratitude. We’ll also revisit other US Poets Laureate who have been guests on Giving Thanks, including Billy Collins, Rita Dove, and Ted Kooser).

Giving Thanks sounds the way Thanksgiving feels: inviting, warm, and festive. No clichés about pilgrims and pumpkin pies. Instead, it’s a contemporary, thoughtful celebration of spirit of the holiday. For listeners, whether they're up early in the kitchen, on the road to a family gathering, or relaxing after the feast, Giving Thanks provides the perfect atmosphere for Thanksgiving: the warmth of great music, and truly memorable words.

(This program is airing in place of The Kansas City Local Feature)

November 25 at 8 pm and November 26 at 1 pm: Every Good Thing

On Thanksgiving, host Andrea Blain and classical music fans from all around the country take some time to give thanks and celebrate one of life's most meaningful gifts: music. It's "Every Good Thing" — an hour of stories and music to celebrate Thanksgiving.

(This program is airing in place of The Kansas City Symphony on Classical KC)

November 25 at 11 am and November 26 at 6 pm: From the Archives: Thanksgiving Weekend

Inspired by Autumn and Thanksgiving, we have a program of music with many moods. We have selections by Joachim Raff, Ralph Vaughan Williams and a stunning performance of a classic Thanksgiving melody.


Thursday December 7 at 7 pm: Chanukah Memories and Melodies

In this Chanukah special, artists and public personalities share their Chanukah memories grounded in the music tied to their holiday memories. Guests on this program include Broadway actress Tovah Feldshuh, cellist Alisa Weilerstein, Sephardic music expert and flutist Daphna Mor, musician and Yiddish musicologist Henry Sapoznik, poet, musician and author Aaron Dworkin, and Eric Jacobsen, artistic director of The Knights orchestra. Hosted by WQXR's Elliott Forrest.

(This program is airing in place of Exploring Music)

Saturday December 9 at 8 pm and Sunday December 10 at 1 pm: Candles Burning Brightly

Mindy Ratner hosts a delightful hour for everyone to celebrate the Jewish Festival of Lights! Lots of music from Jewish communities around the world, plus a hilarious lesson on how to prepare a classic Chanukah dish, and a timeless and touching holiday story that brings light into every home.

(This program is airing in place of The Kansas City Local Feature)


December 10 at 8 pm: All Is Bright: Contemplative Music for Christmas

Hosted by Lynne Warfel, All Is Bright: Contemplative Music for Christmas presents one hour of gorgeous, contemplative music related to the Christmas season and its symbolism. This program uses sacred choral music grouped in a way to tell the traditional Christmas story by way of songs about angels, the star, and the manger scene. Featured artists include Cambridge Singers, Cantus, and Chanticleer.

(This program is airing in place of Pipedreams)

December 16 at 12 pm: Winter Holidays Around the World with Bill McGlaughlin, host of "Exploring Music"

Winter holidays are celebrated around the world, and their music is wonderful to hear, regardless of which tradition you observe. Bill’s spirited selection starts in the 12th century with Nova Stella, medieval Italian Christmas music from Saint Francis of Assisi’s staging of the nativity; jazz pianist Dave Brubeck’s classical composition La Fiesta de la Posada, evoking a Mexican Christmas celebration; and Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Christmas Carols. We will enjoy this time of year in Paris with music from Debussy, then travel to Polynesia for a traditional hymn, Anau Oia Ea. And then ends with an excerpt from Gian Carlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors from the original television production. Turn on your speakers, pour a cup of tea, cozy up to a warm fire, and enjoy the music!

December 16 at 8 pm and December 17 at 1 pm: Carols as Home with The Imani Winds

Carols as Home features a modern take on classic Christmas carols, hosted by Imani Winds founding oboist, Toyin Spellman-Diaz. Toyin coaxes intimate stories of Christmas memories from the members of the ensemble, and why these classic carols are still essential today. You’ll hear many of your favorite carols updated with the ensembles’ own imaginative take.

(This program is airing in place of The Kansas City Local Feature)

December 17 at 11 am and December 20 at 8 pm: Welcome Christmas!

There’s no better way to welcome Christmas than Welcome Christmas!, the VocalEssence holiday concert. It’s an hour of joyful, classic holiday music from VocalEssence, one of the world’s premiere choral groups, singing traditional carols and new discoveries.

Stephen Steigman is director of Classical KC. You can email him at
Brooke Knoll is the digital audience specialist and afternoon host for Classical KC. You can reach her at
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