A Very English Christmas

Nigel Short photo by Susan Porter Thomas

After vocalist Nigel Short left the renowned The King’s Singers, he founded the vocal group Tenebrae. In the fifteen years since his departure, Short and Tenebrae have been very busy. Since 2000, Tenebrae has released 26 albums.

The group’s latest recorded effort is appropriately titled A Very English Christmas because it is full of original compositions and carol arrangements by British composers from the early 20th century to today. Peter Warlock (1894 – 1930) features prominently on this recording with a total of five carols included. Contemporary organist and composer Simon Preston is represented on the CD with 3 selections. John Gardner (1917-2011) has two.

A stand-out carol from the contemporary composers that are featured on this release is The Birds by Richard Hickox. The late Hickox was a prominent conductor in England who recorded hundreds of discs for the Chandos record label. The Birds is a simple, pastoral carol that mimics the serene calls of the cuckoo, pigeon and dove.

Philip Ledger (1937-2012) led the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge for many of their famous Nine Lessons and Carols service (heard on Christmas Eve at 10 am on Classical 90.5). His setting of Adam lay ybounden receives a fine performance here as does his famous setting of On Christmas Night.

Other notable works on A Very English Christmas are Arnold Bax’s I Sing of A Maiden and No Small Wonder by Jonathan Lane. There 22 tracks in all on this 2015 release.

A Very English Christmas
Tenebrae conducted by Nigel Short
Bene Arte SIGCD902

In-Studio: Louisville Vocal Project

louisville vocal project

Join Classical 90.5 for a special in-studio with Louisville Vocal Project, singing music for Advent and Christmas, from the Renaissance to today. – December 9th at noon.

Free and open to the public. Classical 90.5 members can reserve a lunch from City Cafe by calling 502-814-6565 by Tuesday at noon.

New Recordings Welcome the Holidays


As we welcome the holiday season we also say hello to a new batch of seasonal recordings. Here are some interesting selections for your consideration.

Kochi is a recording of Jewish music using instruments from India. While that may seem odd at the outset, the San Diego Jewish Men’s Choir has a valid reason for this. Kochi, India, was once a Jewish community of over 5,000 located in the port of Kerala, India. The Jewish people settled there around 562 B.C. Ruth Weber directs the group in this collection of Indian-flavored songs.

Ragnar Bohlin has been director of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus since 2007. He founded the chamber choir Cappella SF last year. The group’s first release is a pleasing variety of Christmas selections that range from Praetorius and Bach to the Swingle Singers. The CD includes arrangements from this millennium by Bohlin and Eric Whitacre.

Pianist Stewart Goodyear loves The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky. So much so, that Goodyear arranged the whole ballet for piano solo. On one CD, the recording time is over 82 minutes in length. Goodyear visited Louisville in 2008 Stewart Goodyear as a visiting artist with support from the Gheens Great Expectations Project.

The Crouch End Festival Chorus is a large choir based in Crouch End, a northern suburb of London. The group was founded in the 1980’s. It recently teamed up with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra for a 2-CD set called The Greatest Christmas Choral Classics. The sound is huge in the manner of the old Eugene Ormandy/Philadelphia Orchestra Christmas recordings. While the collection concentrates on the true classics, it also includes newer seasonal favorites like All I Want For Christmas is You, Walking in the Air and Happy Xmas (War is Over).

December Celebration is a collection of new carols by seven American composers including Mark Adamo and Jake Heggie, who wrote operas performed by Kentucky Opera. The CD includes the first recording of Heggie’s On the Road to Christmas.

Christmas Specials

Currier and Ives winter sleigh ride

Musical Gifts: Joshua Bell and Friends – December 23rd at 9pm
Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols – December 24th at 10am and 8pm
Holiday Choral Festival 2013 – December 24th at noon
A Chanticleer Christmas – December 24th at 2pm
An Anonymous 4 Christmas – December 24th at 4pm
Welcome Christmas! – December 25th at 9am
Holiday Choral Festival 2014 – December 25th at noon
St. Olaf Christmas Festival – December 25th at 2pm
And Glory Shone Around: An Early-American Christmas with the Rose Ensemble – December 25th at 8pm
Light and Gold: The Music of Eric Whitacre – December 25th at 10pm
New Year’s Day from Vienna – January 1st at 11am

For more details visit our Holiday Specials page.

Bourbon Baroque and Youth Performing Arts School Chamber Choir

bourbon baroque

Bourbon Baroque, together with the Youth Performing Arts School Chamber Choir, perform Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Messe de minuit pour noël and the Christmas portion of Handel’s Messiah. Soloists include: Emily Albrink Katz, soprano; Audrey Walstrom, mezzo-soprano; Steven Paul Spears, tenor; Jim Rittenhouse, baritone. View the program booklet here. Listen on Tuesday at 1pm.