Sounds of the Season
By Scott Vezdos
To warm your heart and soul this upcoming holiday season, WCBE has once again lined up a stellar variety of music and entertainment programs.
We kick off the celebration with "Hanukkah: A Great Miracle Happened There" on Tuesday, December 11th. A riveting conversation between host Larry Josephson and Rabbi Ismar Schorsch about the history, rituals, and meaning of Hanukkah -- and it's importance in our time. Warm, smart and accessible to both observant and secular Jews, as well as to non-Jews, Rabbi Schorsh explains that Hanukkah is really about a Jewish civil war, a war between assimilated, Hellenized Jews and a pious band of zealots, the Maccabees. He reviews the well-known "miracle of the oil" and talks about Hanukkah in America as "the Jewish Christmas."
The festival of lights continues on Thursday, December 13th, with PRI's "The Golden Dreydl: A Klezmer Nutcracker," presenting public radio personality Ellen Kushner and the popular Shirim Klezmer Orchestra in a fresh retelling of an old story. Sara is a little girl with a problem; she hates the annual family Chanukah party! A mysterious party guest gives her a golden dreydl, a traditional Chanukah toy. This dreydl however is under a powerful spell, which catapults Sara into a magical world of demons and fools, sorcerers and sages.
Kushner, the show's writer and narrator, says, "We wanted to create a holiday story rich in Jewish themes and values, drawing on Jewish folklore and ethics. ["The Golden Dreydl"] is like 'Tchaikovsky meets Harry Potter' and they go to a Jewish wedding! Shirim's music is a brilliant re-arrangement of the holiday classic."
On Friday, December 21st, singer-songwriter Monty Brown offers up spicy reminiscences from some of the bayou folk on our Weekend Getaway series. You'll find yourself two-steppin' and waltzin' to "Joyeux Noel" as swamp fiddles, accordions, and singers cook up a holiday gumbo, a delicious feast for the spirit and the ears.
Later the evening, "Echoes" greets the longest night of the year with a Winter Solstice celebration. This program recreates the embracing quiet of a slow nighttime walk on freshly fallen snow. It paints a winter's landscape in sound, pristine and serene. "An Echoes Winter's Solstice" includes music from the new Windham Hill Winter's Solstice and Celtic Christmas Collections, Wendy Carlos's Sonic Seasonings, and music for Ukranian harp and acoustic guitar by Al Di Meola.
On Saturday, December 23rd, listen to a remarkable collection of rare holiday songs that will make you like Christmas music again on "Saturday Evening Sounds' Christmas Cocktail." Scott Vezdos has scoured the Earth for some of the most unusual, colorful and daring Christmas carols ever recorded.
"The Putumayo World Music Hour Winter Holiday Special" comes to you at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 23rd, where hosts Dan Storper and Rosalie Howarth sample music from around the globe in honor of the various winter holidays. Then at 6:00 p.m., Dr. Steve is having a "Blue Collar Christmas" where he'll explore how the blues don't seem to match the spirit of Christmas with some poignant, sharp, and just plain funny tunes about feeling blue in a jolly season.
Our Christmas Eve celebration begins at 9:00 a.m. with an encore edition of "A Blue Collar Christmas;" Nancy Wilson hosts the latest incarnation of the NPR jazz tradition: "Jazz Piano Christmas 12" at noon; and we feature jazz pianist Bob Thompson at 1:00 p.m. with "Joy to the World."
At 2:00 p.m. we journey with "Madafo" Lloyd Wilson to the Gullah Festival in Beaufort, SC for "Season's Griot 2001." There, you'll immerse yourself in the stories and songs of the people who live and work along the coast of North and South Carolina and on the small strip of islands just off the coast of Georgia and Florida.
After opening your presents on Christmas day, turn on the radio to an all-new compilation of carols, traditional and ritual dances, and processionals, all selected from the eleven Christmas/Winter Solstice Revels celebrations that took place around the country last year. "The Christmas Revels" features a journey from Renaissance Italy to the Montserrat monastery in Spain; a pair of Medieval/Renaissance celebrations; an observance set in Appalachia in the days of the Underground Railroad; and the revelries of a group of snow-bound New Englanders, French Canadians, and Native Americans.
The sounds of the season continue with "A Celtic Sojourn" at 11:00 a.m., and at noon, Doug Dickson returns with the "Toss the Feathers Christmas Special." Some of the best known artists from the world of Celtic music lend their voices and instruments to a two-hour celebration of the Christmas season. Irish superstar Frances Black joins the program, along with the up-and-coming Irish-American band, The Prodigals. You'll also enjoy Altan; Richard Thompson; Waterson:Carthy; Maddy Prior; Kim Robertson; and Lunasa.
Enjoy holiday music, stories and anecdotes with "Ornaments and Icing" at 2:00 p.m., and at 7:00 p.m., Jonathan Winters continues a WCBE holiday tradition with "A Christmas Carol." Master comedian Winters presents a distinctive reading of this classic from a script written by Charles Dickens for his own presentations!
We'll wind things down a bit at 10:00 p.m. with the perfect music for digesting that Christmas dinner. "Christmas Echoes" feature evocative and inventive renditions of Christmas favorites from artists who are staples of the Echoes soundscape, including R. Carlos Nakai, John Serrie, and music from the Windham Hill seasonal collections.
We'll keep the party going through Christmas with "The Putumayo World Music Hour New Year's Celebration" on Sunday, December 30th at 1:00 p.m. Dan Storper and Rosalie Howarth play songs of hope and peace, beginning with Bob Marley's "One Love" and ending with Youssou N'Dour & Alan Stivel performing "A United Earth."
WCBE invites you to close out 2001 with "JazzSet's Toast of the Nation," beginning at 9:00 p.m. on New Year's Eve. Visit the Kennedy Center in Washington for Freddy Cole's before-midnight concert; the Village Vanguard in New York for its annual party with Michael White's Original Liberty Jazz Band of New Orleans; Peter Miller's Steakhouse in Evanston, IL for a listen to guitarist Bobby Broom and his Quintet; and finally Yoshi's to listen to the Afro-Cuban Jazz Masters super group led by flutist Orlando Valle. The "Toast" will work its way from east to west, from party to party, time zone to time zone, taking in each midnight celebration.
And on New Year's Day, WCBE encourages you to turn away from the bowl games to tune in to "Toss the Feathers' Year's Best Celtic Special" with Doug Dickson at 10:00 a.m.; Jim Maneri at noon for "A Jazzy New Year;" and "It's Movie Time's Wonderful & Wacky Year-End Extravaganza" at 2:00 p.m. with John DeSando & Clay Lowe.
Scott Vezdos hosts "Ante Meridiem" and "Saturday Evening Sounds," and is the webmaster of WCBE.