%s1 / %s2

Playlist: Music Station Picks for December '10

Compiled By: PRX Curators

 Credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/scharwenka/2112016030/sizes/m/in/photostream/">Juan Luis García</a>
Image by: Juan Luis García 
Curated Playlist

December picks for music stations curated by PRX Music Format Curator David Srebnik.

Find out what David listens for in music programming.

Suggestions from David:

"Are you on Twitter? PRX is on Twitter — I've found it to be an invaluable programming resource, providing information and updates on new program that are available on PRX. It's like getting an instant update from PRX without having to go to the PRX site.

"One PRX Twitter feed features curated daily picks from the PRX Editors

Another PRX Twitter feed contains a link to each new PRX piece.

The third PRX feed tells you which programs have been bought in real time."

A Winter Solstice with Helicon (One Hour or Two Hours)

From WPSU | 01:58:34

A warm and wonderful presentation of traditional and non-traditional holiday songs that feel very old world and progressive at the same time. A holiday special that will stand out amidst the standard fare.

Heliconsm_small One of the most eclectic holiday concerts you’ll hear on public radio this season is A Winter Solstice with Helicon. Each year, the folk trio continues its tradition of re-uniting in late December in Baltimore to celebrate the winter solstice with their unique arrangements of Christmas carols, Jewish tunes, and traditional music from around the world. The three members of Helicon, each considered to be a world-class player on his primary instrument, are guitarist Robin Bullock, wooden-flute player Chris Norman (also well-known in classical circles for his work with The Baltimore Consort), and hammer-dulcimer player Ken Kolodner. These versatile musicians, each a multi-instrumentalist, also play fiddles, cittern, mandolin, piano, and Scottish small pipes during the course of the evening. The program also includes a bit of singing by Chris Norman, who also recites poetry about the season of winter by Canadian poet Archibald Lampman. The New York Times has called Helicon’s holiday music “outstanding” and “soulfully beautiful”. In 2000, Helicon’s recording on the Dorian label, titled “A Winter Solstice”, received an Indie Award for best seasonal recording on an independent label. According to Stereo Review, “The musicians of Helicon have a deep feeling for an amazing variety of styles. The group is introducing a lot of people to some remarkable music they might not otherwise get to know. They respect the music they play, they play with spirit and sparkle, and they obviously love what they do. So do I. So will you.”

The Kabbalah of Chanukah

From Russ Jennings | Part of the Days of Wonder series | 55:54

Hanukkah is December 1 - 9.

Here's the Hanukkah story as told and interpreted by psychotherapist Estelle Frankel. She’s is also a Kabbalist, a wing of Judaism that investigates and celebrates the mystical aspects of Judaism. She’s joined by cantor Richard Kaplan, who sings sacred music of different Jewish shades from around the globe.

You get the Hanukkah story, and the miracle of lights – what that miracle meant centuries ago, and what it could mean for us today – and the emotive singing of Richard Kaplan.

Likely to be a very, very interesting program for those who know nothing about Hanukkah and those who’d like to know more.

Menorahlit_small The Kabbalah of Chanukah: An Inspirational Program for the Festival of Lights A jazz-virtuoso cantor and a kabbalistic psychotherapist bring their respective talents together, to provide new inspiration for Chanukah! Weaving a tapestry of tales and teachings from the Kabbalah together with sacred music from around the world, this dynamic duo reveals some of the hidden treasures of this ancient spiritual tradition. This program is being offered for Chanukah programming in 2006. (Chanukah is from after nightfall on 12/15, ending at nightfall of 12/23.)

An Elizabethan Christmas w/ the Rose Ensemble

From The Rose Ensemble | 58:14

A generous Christmas soundscape from the Tudor era (15th century), starring music lover Queen Elizabeth I and the Rose Ensemble.

Host Tom Krann presents the music with the right amount of history from the era and talks specifically about the music with the Rose Ensemble’s artistic director Jordan Sramek.

Superb hosting, concise music discussions, along with tender, delicate, and at times turbulent, music that has yet to grow old.

Highly recommended.


Grand candlelit halls, lavish feasts, and stately dances. Escape to the regal elegance of the Elizabethan era. The time and culture of Elizabeth I also contained tension and intrigue; dark and light. And it’s all evident in the music of their Christmas celebrations.    

The Rose Ensemble’s captures all of that in their popular holiday concert, as they reawaken the ancient with An Elizabethan Christmas. Add it to your holiday lineup, and treat your listeners to medieval carols, and motets and anthems by the beloved English Renaissance composers, Robert Parsons, William Byrd and Orlando Gibbons, accompanied by lute and viola da gamba. In a couple of pieces, The Rose Ensemble is joined by special guests Voces8, the vibrant young a capella group from London, for a glorious soaring sound.

In this one-hour special, you’ll hear stratospheric soprano lines, surprising harmonies, spirited poetry, and tender carols. And a brand new setting of a Tudor-era carol text by acclaimed composer Abbie Betinis. 

Captured live in concert, An Elizabethan Christmas with the Rose Ensemble is hosted and produced by public radio veteran Tom Crann with artistic director Jordan Sramek. 

  • Total time = 58:17
  • 1 optional mid-point break opportunity for ID or underwriting  

music rundown: 

15th century carol:  Ecce, quod natura (3:40)

15th century carol:  Hail Mary, full of grace  (3:52)

Parsons:  Ave Maria (featuring Voces8) (4:30)

Mundy: Magnificat (6:37)

Ravenscroft: Remember, O thou man (2:45) 

  • optional :03 break for local annct. 

Byrd: Sing Joyfully (featuring Voces8) (3:30)

Amner: O ye little flock/Fear not (5:35)

anon 15th century:  Lullay, lollow, lully (3:00)

Gibbons: See, See, the Word is incarnate (7:00)

Abbie Betinis (b. 1980): In this Tyme of Chrstmas (2006) (5:18)  


Songs of Joy and Peace: The Yo-Yo Ma Holiday Party

From Joyride Media | Part of the Holiday Programming Extravaganzas series | 59:00

The ultimate holiday mix tape that should work on all station formats. Here's your cast: Yo-Yo Ma, James Taylor (Here Comes the Sun), Dave Brubeck, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile, Renee Fleming, Diana Krall, Alison Krauss (The Wexford Carol), the Silk Road Ensemble and the divine ukulele artist, Jake Shimabukuro.

This is the radio music programmer and music lover's dream come true. "Songs of Joy and Peace: The Yo-Yo Ma Holiday Party" is a many-sized show that fits all stations.

Worthy of consideration for multiple airings.

Yoyosjp_small Imagine a musical party that celebrates the hopes, dreams and joy that animates seasonal festivals the world over. That is what inspired Yo-Yo Ma to create "Songs of Joy and Peace: The Yo-Yo Ma Holiday Party" with a remarkable group of friends.

Hosted by John Schaefer, this one-hour holiday special combines the joy of music with the gift of discovery as shared and performed by friends old and new. James Taylor, Alison Krauss, Diana Krall, Dave Brubeck, Renee Fleming, The Silk Road Ensemble, Jake Shimabukuro and others discuss the collaborations they recorded with Ma.


Dona Nobis Pacem

Joy To The World  (with Dave Brubeck)
Wassail/All Through The Night  (with Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile)
Here Comes The Sun  (with James Taylor)
Touch The Hand Of Love  (with Renee Fleming)
You Couldn't Be Cuter  (with Diana Krall)
The Wexford Carol  (with Alison Krauss)
Happy Xmas (War is Over)  (with Jake Shimabukuro)
Dona Nobis Pacem (Give Us Peace)/Auld Lang Syne (with Chris Botti)
Kuai Lei (with the Silk Road Ensemble)

Austin Music Unlimited Holiday Special - 'Home for the Holidays'

From KUT | 55:15

This is a deeply soulful send off for the holidays that rocks, twangs, grinds and fais do dos. And more...including fresh takes on holiday classics and seasonal originals from Willie Nelson, Marcia Ball, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Asleep at the Wheel, Ruthie Foster, the Rev. Horton Heat and others.

Several standouts include a set featuring the Imperial Crown Harmonizers with Ruthie Foster, "People Get Ready," the Asylum Street Spankers, "You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch," Sara Hickman rendering "We are Each Other's Angels" and Tish Hinajosa's "For a Christmas Night."

Everything fits.

Holidaytruck_small Willie Nelson, Kelly Willis, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Asleep at the Wheel, Ruthie Foster, the Rev. Horton Heat and many more are among the featured artists in this hour-long seasonal music showcase.  There are inventive reworkings of some holiday classics, surprising originals, and exclusive live music recorded in KUT's legendary 'Studio 1A'.  Hosted by David Brown of KUT's Texas Music Matters with minimal interruption. This program has been modified to suit broadcast over any station without need for local 'set-up' or explanation; just press play.  Accommodates newscasts; includes two built-in instrumental beds for local underwriting and announcements.   Happy Holidays and warm wishes from all of us at KUT Austin!

Do You Hear What I Hear? A Holiday Folk Tour With Judy Collins

From Paul Ingles | Part of the 3 Holiday Music Specials Hosted by Judy Collins series | 59:02

A holiday folk tour hosted by Judy Collins. The singer-songwriter sings a few holiday gems and introduces some clever and inventive colleagues, not as well known, but their songs and lyrics stand up.

There are plenty of sweets, a few surprises, some contemporary Hanukkah-Christmas hilarity and plenty else to enchant your listeners.

In addition to Judy Collins, the show offers LA’s Deborah Holland, Welsh harpist Sian James ("On the Morning of Christmas Day"), Judith Kate Freidman also from California singing ("Ocho Candelikos"), New Yorker Cathy Grier (adding a certain verve to “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”) and others from all about the country.

More right-on-the-button programming from Paul Ingles.

Collins2_small Folk singing legend Judy Collins hosts an hour-long tour around the nation with a stop or two overseas to hear musical takes on the holiday season from folk artists. The music includes many new originals -- some thoughtful, some delivered with tongues planted firmly in cheek - along with rarely heard traditional carols, a few holiday favorites and two Hanukkah pieces. Many of the artists reflect on the holidays and tell the stories behind their songs. The performers include: Ms. Collins herself ("I'll Be Home For Christmas," "In The Bleak Mid Winter"), Orrin Star from New York ("A New Kind Of Christmas"), Deborah Holland of L.A. ("Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah"), Welsh harpist Sian James ("On the Morning of Christmas Day"), Oona McOuat of Canada ("December Song"), Judith Kate Freidman from California ("Ocho Candelikos"), Nebraska's Terri Jo Dahlquist ("Six Little Angels"), Susan Clark ("It's Got To Be A Sign") and Rob Williams ("Enchanted Christmas") of Albuquerque, Curtis & Loretta from Minnesota ("Silver Bells"), New Yorker Cathy Grier ("I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"), and Irish flavored folk from The McCabes ("Christmas Eve"). 59:00 - No Breaks. BROADCAST HISTORY - Distributed by NPR in 2000 + 2001. This program is the first of three successful NPR specials featuring Ms. Collins. Also available at PRX is "Peace on Earth: A Holiday Folk Tour with Judy Collins" that aired on more than 100 stations in 2002 and 2003. (http://www.prx.org/pieces/6766) The 2004 Special "A Holiday Music Tour With Judy Collins" is also available. (http://www.prx.org/pieces/20487)

Hot Jazz for a Cool Yule

From PVP Media | Part of the Rivewalk Jazz series | 59:00

Just about any visit to hear Jim Cullum and his band play on the Riverwalk in San Antonio is a good trip – and that’s the story with "Hot Jazz for a Cool Yule."

The universal appeal early jazz, with a Dixie flair, extends beyond and around the core jazz audience, so this program is worth considering for news stations and all others pursuing a varied (but not all-over-the-map) holiday sound.

Schedule H-J-F-A-C-Y in the evenings and weekend afternoons to enhance your holiday schedule and your listeners enjoyment of the holidays.

Lane_small It?s December. The days are short. And with everything to do to get ready for the holidays, they seem even shorter. Never mind. It?s time for hearth and home, and sitting by the fire with family and friends. It?s a time of 'peace on earth' even as we scramble to cross one more item off our to-do lists. Thank goodness, it is also a time for musical traditions that keep a holiday mood in the air. This week on Riverwalk Jazz, it's Hot Jazz for a Cool Yule as Jim Cullum and the Band welcome an all-star cast of legendary jazz players, outstanding vocal artists and one outrageous tap dancer to the stage of The Landing to interpret carols and holiday classics in a jazz band mood. Using his dancing feet as a percussion instrument, tap sensation Savion Glover joins cornetist Jim Cullum and drummer Eddie Torres on a highly original jazz interpretation of the holiday classic, ?The Little Drummer Boy.? A Tony Award-winning performer, Glover changed the way people think about tap with his hit, Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk, and his star turn 'standing in' for the animated Penguin hero in the motion picture Happy Feet. Over the years, Savion has continued his creative experiment in dance, tapping to musical forms from hip-hop and jazz to classical compositions. Our Hot Jazz for a Cool Yule Holiday Special captures a bevy of jazz legends in a holiday mood: Champion of trumpet and flugelhorn and veteran of Ellington and Basie Bands, Clark Terry offers a luscious rendition of ?The Christmas Song? (You can almost catch the scent of 'chestnuts roasting on an open fire'.) Milt "The Judge" Hinton, a legend of the jazz bass fiddle, holds forth with a genial stroll through ?Winter Wonderland.? Dick Hyman once again proves he is the 'Fred Astaire of the Keyboards' as he joins The Jim Cullum Jazz Band on a high-energy romp through "Jingle Bells Swing". Bechet protegee and soprano sax genius Bob Wilber sails through a playful interpretation of "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town", making young and old believe once more in the jolly fat man. Broadway's Carol Woods sings ?Santa Baby?, vamping it up in a sultry Eartha Kitt style. Piano man John Sheridan sets sugar plum fairies in perpetual motion, and gets a standing ovation for his original "Nutcracker Rag". Providing the perfect tree-trimming, mood-lifting sound track for holiday magic, The Jim Cullum Jazz Band swings through classic carols, including "We Three Kings", "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "Joy to the World". All in all, it is a very Cool Yule.

A Mexican Baroque Christmas with the Rose Ensemble

From The Rose Ensemble | 58:39

"You're not going to hear Jingle Bells, and you're actually not even going to hear it in Spanish." Jordan Sramek, Artistic Director of the Rose Ensemble

Here is one of the more refreshing holiday music programs from last year. Tom Crann, MPR/APM's host/producer (and a long standing role model for classical music announcing), takes us through the warmth, sheer beauty, earthy beauty and delightful spikiness of Baroque music from Mexico.

Not necessarily only for classical formats, "A Mexican Baroque Christmas with the Rose Ensemble" is ideal all day on weekends, weekday afternoons and Christmas day. The musical flair and flavor of the Mexican Baroque is one additional way you can take your listener's holiday experience (with your station) to a higher ground. And, after taking in the intoxicating rhythms and spicy percussion – your listeners might need a designated driver.

Highly recommended. (See An Elizabethan Christmas, this year's holiday special with the same cast — also highly recommended.)


A Mexican Baroque Christmas with The Rose Ensemble

"Because of the beauty of the music, the variety of the voices, the liveliness of the personalities and the improvisatory support of gentle instruments, the performance was engaging from beginning to end." 
-- The Cleveland Plain Dealer 

Add A Mexican Baroque Christmas with the Rose Ensemble to your holiday schedule, and your listeners will get a vibrant retelling of the Christmas story with some ancient music that sounds fresh and new today. Mexico in the 17th century was a time of great cultural and musical diversity. Those cross-currents produced church music that was infused with indigenous rhythms and dances. That colorful music is the centerpiece of this gorgeous and engaging Christmas special by the internationally-acclaimed Rose Ensemble. 

This holiday program features over two centuries of festive Christmas dances and songs from the great cathedrals of Puebla and Mexico City. With rich instrumental and percussive accompaniment, solos and choruses burst forth in this program that's a far cry from the same old Christmas show. Plus a couple of surprises for the season in this one hour production.  The music is all rhythmic and tuneful and totally appealing.

Hosted by public radio veteran Tom Crann, with the Rose Ensemble’s Artistic Director, Jordan Sramek, It’s A Mexican Baroque Christmas with the Rose Ensemble.  Add this hour of beautifully performed fresh sounds for the season to your station’s holiday line-up.

complete music listings:  

Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla: Deus in Adiutorium (from The Rose Ensemble’s CD:  Celebremos el Niño)

from live performance: 

Antonio de Salazar:  Atención, atención

Fray Gerónimo Gonzles: Serenissima una Noche   

Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla: A siolo flasiquiyo

William Tans’ur:  The Old Angels Hymn/St. Luke’s Tune/Kimbolton Tune (from The Rose Ensemble’s CD: And Glory Shone Around)

from live performance: 

Antonio de Salazar:  Tarara tarara qui yo soy Anton
Sebastián Durón:  Al Dormir el sol

Fabien Ximeno Perez: Ay ay galeguinos.

Juan Garcia de Zéspedes: Convivando esta la Noche

Sergei Khvoshchinsky: Bogoroditse Devo, raduysia (The Russian Ave Maria from The Rose Ensemble’s CD: Fire of the Soul

Northern Lights 2009: A Solstice Celebration

From Ric Cengeri | 58:30

Northern Lights 2010 is yet to be uploaded to PRX as of Nov. 29. But – sources close to the Producer (not Wikileaks) say this year's show will focus on the wide range of traditional December celebrations - Persian, Spanish, Swedish, English and many others.

Host Cheryl Willoughby owns a long standing tradition of presenting songs, dances, readings and exotic entities that are guaranteed to “Drive the Cold Winter Away.”

Be on the lookout for Northern Lights 2010.

Here’s what I wrote about the 2009 show that is still available on PRX.

An absolutely delightful, pretty and engaging mix of music and (brief) storytelling that is as officially spiritual as you want — or don't want.
Every year, Vermont Public Radio's Cheryl Willoughby gathers music, stories and customs from the dark days of December and the hopefully bright lights of the New Year.
The Kalinitta (tarantella) performed by Arakne Mediterranea and the Henry Villca Suntura Improvisation on a well-known tune are among several musical high points, and the Ensemble Deadalus performance of the traditional Neapolitan "St’ amaro core mio e diventato" is positively freaky.
Suitable for all formats, and contains an ideal music to talk ratio and delivery.

Moon_solstice_small In ancient times, the winter solstice inspired celebration partly as a defense against the darkening days. As December closed in, cold and dark, the time was met with some anxiety – if the darkness continued – how could we survive? Cheryl Willoughby presents “Northern Lights,” a singing and dancing celebration to welcome the solstice – and coming of the new year.

A Christmas Gift For You

From Joyride Media | Part of the Holiday Programming Extravaganzas series | 59:00

A holiday program and a different kind of Christmas story....This is the Christmas story behind the record Rolling Stone calls "one of the best albums ever."

"A Christmas Gift For You" the record was the creation of the young and gifted producer Phil Spector and some absolutely exquisite '60s voices and artists.

Not sure what comes first here -- some incomparable holiday arrangements and performances by The Ronettes, Darlene Love and Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans -- or the story of how they got together to make the groundbreaking Christmas record in 1963.

Xmasgift_small The inside story behind this 1963 album featuring performances by The Ronettes, The Crystals, Darlene Love and Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans that raised the bar for pop/rock arrangements of classic holiday songs.  The All Music Guide says,  “This is the Christmas album by which all later holiday releases had to be judged,” and Rolling Stone lists it as one of the best albums ever made.  Includes interviews with singers Darlene Love and LaLa Brooks, musicians Nino Tempo, Don Randi and Hal Blaine.  Hosted by Anthony DeCurtis.  

Holiday Light: Singing Angels, Silver Bells

From William Zukof | 58:23

The music (Middle Ages, Renaissance, Appalachian to contemporary) and the performances by the Western Wind blew me away.

In this program, your listeners will get Christmas music and the Christmas story. While the music is consistently moving and engaging, I suggest you audition random narrative tracks to see if they fit within your editorial guidelines for holiday programming on your station.

Worthy of almost any public radio format; schedule it morning, afternoon and night; ideal for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Hl1_small Holiday Light is a wonderfully diverse collection of holiday music from the Middle Ages and Renaissance to the present sung by The Western Wind one of America's preeminent vocal ensembles. The music is a delightful mix of familiar and historical songs and carols, including "Angelus ad Virginem," a popular carol from the thirteenth century; Spanish Renaissance motets and villancicos by Victoria, Guerrero, and Fernandes; early American music by William Billings; Appalachian folk songs and spirituals; and contemporary English and American carols. Featured are unique arrangements of the popular Christmas songs "Silver Bells," "Angels We Have Heard on High," and "Christmas Time is Here," created especially for the Western Wind. Guest host, Roma Downey, weaves together the music with a narrative that is informative, witty, fresh and moving. Ms. Downey became a household word through her portrayal of the angel Monica in the hit CBS television series Touched by An Angel. The narration was written by Reverend K Karpen, the spiritual leader of the Church of Saint Paul and Saint Andrew on the upper West Side of Manhattan, a well-known center of social activism. Karpen takes a relevant and charming approach to the themes and stories of Christmas that makes the events seem like they happened just yesterday.