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NHPR 2021 Holiday Programming: Songs, Stories and Celebration

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Sara Plourde
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From classics like NPR's The Big Tiny Desk Holiday Special to NHPR's annual Holidays By Request, NHPR and Classical New Hampshire will once again offer a robust schedule of holiday programming to help you close out 2021 and ring in a New Year.

Returning national favorites include Hanukkah Lights from NPR, A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on Christmas Eve, and A Season's Griot, an hour-long celebration of Kwanzaa.

NHPR will also offer festive, locally-produced programs like The Yule Log Old Time Radio Show with Rick Ganley and Sean Hurley and Gerald Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol', a traditional broadcast of The Exchange on Christmas Day.

Classical New Hampshire will also offer several musical holiday specials.

See the daily schedule of special programming below:

NHPR

Sunday, Nov. 28

6-7 PM

Hanukkah Lights 2021

This NPR favorite returns with the best of the Hanukkah Lights stories from the last 30 years. Hosted by Susan Stamberg and Murray Horowitz.

Monday, Nov. 29

Noon-1 PM (rebroadcast 9-10 PM)

NHPR Holiday Book Show with Laura Knoy

Laura Knoy, former host of The Exchange, returns to host this discussion with local booksellers about their favorite picks for your 2021 holiday shopping season.

Friday, Dec. 3

9-10 PM

Selected Shorts: Holiday Hurdles with David Sedaris

In Selected Shorts: Holiday Hurdles with David Sedaris, audiences are invited to reimagine holiday rituals. Selected Shorts’ late host and founder Isaiah Sheffer is featured as the reader of Tobias Wolff’s “Powder,” in which a pre-Christmas snowstorm provides an adventure for a father and son.

In Allegra Goodman’s gentle borrowing from an O’Henry classic, a long-established couple discover they can surprise one another; Dana Ivey and Michael Cerveris read her “Gifts of the Jewish Magi.

And David Sedaris says English writer Jeanette Winterson captures the city to a T in “Christmas in New York,” a modern fairy tale with just a hint of magic, performed by Richard Masur.

Friday, Dec. 10

9-10 PM

The Big Tiny Desk Holiday Special

Celebrate the season with amazing holiday performances from The Tiny Desk Concert series including Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Steve Martin, Hanson, The Polyphonic Spree and more! Hosted by NPR Music frenemies Bob Boilen and Stephen Thompson.

Friday, Dec. 17

9-10 PM

All Songs Considered for the Holiday Extravaganza

Bob Boilen is like a child this time of year, his eyes and ears full of wonder, as he traipses through the NPR Music offices, vigorously jingling his collection of sleigh bells. He believes, in his heart, that he's truly getting everyone in the spirit of the holiday season. But it's always a steady source of irritation for Robin so he tries to escape but ends up on a steam engine headed to the North Pole.

Saturday, Dec. 18

6-8 PM

Holidays By Request V

Rick Ganley and Emily Quirk are back with the fifth edition of this NHPR holiday tradition. They'll take listener requests and mark NHPR's 40th anniversary in a fun way. Stay tuned for more details.

Sunday, Dec. 19

7-10 PM

The Folk Show - Stocking Stuffer Edition

Host Kate McNally takes listener requests to celebrate the holiday season.

Monday, Dec. 20

9-10 PM

Festivo Alt.Latino feat. Gaby Moreno

NPR Music’s Alt.Latino presents a 2015 encore featuring songwriter/performer Gaby Moreno and her band performing tracks from her popular holiday album Posada - recorded live at the KUT studios in Austin, Texas. She was joined by special guests Gina Chavez and Chicano Zen bandleader and record producer Michael Ramos. Hosted by Felix Contreras.

Tuesday Dec. 21

9-10 PM

Joy To The World - A Holiday in Pink

The internationally acclaimed “little orchestra" Pink Martini bedecks the airwaves with festive holiday songs from across the globe. From timeless classics to rarely heard gems, hear a multi-denominational, multi-cultural jubilee, overflowing with enough holiday spirit to warm your entire family. Hosted by All Things Considered’s Ari Shapiro.

Wednesday, Dec. 22

9-10 PM

A Mountain Stage Holiday

Join Mountain Stage host Larry Groce for an hour filled with beautiful music to mark the season. The show features special guests Holly Cole, Joan Baez, Bruce Cockburn, Loudon Wainwright III, The Roches, Kathy Mattea and more. All performances were recorded live on the Mountain Stage.

Thursday, Dec. 23

9-10 PM

A World Cafe Holiday

World Cafe is celebrating 30 years by revisiting special holiday performances from Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Los Lobos, Andrew Bird, The Bird and The Bee, Pink Martini, Preservation Hall Jazz Band and more. Hosted by Raina Douris, this musical gift will provide a full hour of hip holiday cheer.

Friday, Dec. 24

10 AM-noon

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

Listeners are encouraged to join a worldwide Christmas Eve broadcast of a service of Biblical readings, carols, and related seasonal “classical” music (anthems - both a cappella and with organ accompaniment, and congregational hymns). The broadcast is presented by one of the world’s foremost choirs of men and boys, and performed in the acoustically and architecturally renowned King’s College Chapel, in Cambridge, England.

1-2 PM

Yule Log Old Time Radio Show

NHPR's Rick Ganley and Sean Hurley team up for an old-timey hour of Christmas stories and memories. Sean will share his favorite “winter essays” and heartwarming family stories. This special - broadcast each year on NHPR for the holiday season - will become one of your family's favorite holiday listening traditions!

2-3 PM

Science Friday: Snow and Ice and Everything Nice

The Death and Life of the Great American Chestnut: Science Friday Holiday Special. The American Chestnut used to be the tree of record - a keystone species important for timber, food, industry. Then a blight fungus showed up (at the NYBG!) in the 1940s and swiftly wiped them out. Now, researchers are trying to bring it back by breeding blight-resistant genes from the Chinese Chestnut.

3-4 PM

An Afro Blue Christmas

Join us for a very special holiday concert with Howard University's premiere vocal ensemble Afro Blue and special guest pianist Cyrus Chestnut. Hear the a-cappela group perform 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.

7-8 PM

Jazz Night In America: A Holiday Celebration

This holiday, Jazz Night in America will present popular jazz artists sharing their seasonal music from forthcoming holiday albums. Enjoy first-person stories and memories from the musicians and hear festive originals and new takes on classics in this special episode. More details to come soon. Christian McBride hosts.

8-10 PM

Holidays By Request V (encore broadcast)

Rick Ganley and Emily Quirk are back with the fifth edition of this NHPR holiday tradition. They'll take listener requests and mark NHPR's 40th anniversary in a fun way. Stay tuned for more details.

10 PM-midnight

American Routes Winter Holiday Special

Classic songs to celebrate the winter holidays.

Saturday, Dec. 25

7-8 AM

An Exchange Tradition: Gerald Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol'

On Christmas Day, we listen back to a seasonal favorite, our 2005 conversation with Gerald Charles Dickens, Charles Dickens's great-great-grandson and an actor. He toured America with his one-man performance of "A Christmas Carol," and we speak with him about the legacy of his namesake and the magic of "A Christmas Carol." He also performs a handful of scenes from his show.

11 AM-noon

The New London Barn Playhouse Presents 'A Miracle On 34th Street'

Miracle on 34th Street is based on the classic 1947 film starring Maureen O’Hara, John Payne and Edmund Gwenn as Kris Kringle. When a department store Santa claims he’s the real Kris Kringle, his case gets taken all the way to the Supreme Court, and one little girl’s belief makes all the difference in the “miracle.” Recorded live with Foley effects (sound reproductions) and holiday carols, this special radio rebroadcast of Miracle on 34th Street will melt even the most cynical of hearts. Produced by the New London Barn Playhouse - the oldest, continuously operating Summer Stock theater in New Hampshire, and a longtime NHPR trade partner.

Noon-4 PM

NPR Tinsel Tales 1-4

4-5 PM

Jazz Piano Christmas 37

Join the Kennedy Center and NPR Music for this annual holiday tradition highlighting jazz pianists and their favorite seasonal music, captured live in concert with a small audience. The all- star line up includes Patrice Rushen, Gerald Clayton and Eric Reed. Felix Contreras hosts.

8-9 PM

The Yule Log Old Time Radio Show (encore broadcast)

NHPR's Rick Ganley and Sean Hurley team up for an old-timey hour of Christmas stories and memories. Sean will share his favorite “winter essays” and heartwarming family stories. This special - broadcast each year on NHPR for the holiday season - will become one of your family's favorite holiday listening traditions!

9-10 PM

A Choral Christmas With Stile Antico

Celebrate Christmas with the sound of soaring voices. Stile Antico, the award winning choir from London, pays a visit to St. Paul’s church on Harvard Square for a concert of radiant sacred music for the Christmas season by the most acclaimed composers of the renaissance. Hear the group’s luminous blend of voices sing the intricately woven music of Thomas Tallis and William Byrd. Hosted by Cathy Fuller of WGBH. Presented by NPR Music.

10-11 PM

Christmas with Morehouse and Spelman Glee Clubs

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. This encore presentation features the best works of the last several years. It's a joyous celebration of the schools' tradition of singing excellence, with their trademark mixture of spirituals and carols. Korva Coleman hosts.

Sunday, Dec. 26

3-4 PM

A Season's Griot

This one-hour celebration in story and song is public radio's only nationally syndicated Kwanzaa program. Hosted by acclaimed storyteller Madafo Lloyd Wilson, this annual special captures the tales and traditions of African American and African peoples.

Friday, Dec. 31

8-9 PM

2021 Remembered from The Current

Join The Current in honoring the life, music, and legacy of artists we lost this year with 2021 Remembered from The Current. This hour-long musical tribute is a celebration of all sounds - from indie to influential - and the perfect way for music lovers to unite in paying homage to the artists who have shaped music history.

From musicians and producers to industry icons, the playlist will feature legends like Charlie Watts, Don Everly, Nanci Griffith, Bunny Wailer, Biz Markie, and many more. Host Jill Riley will highlight milestones in each artist's life and career, explore their lasting impact on the music world, and spin their most beloved songs.

9 PM-1 AM

Toast of the Nation

An NPR tradition every New Year's Eve since the 1970s, Toast of the Nation is the perfect audio complement for the occasion. It's festive jazz you can party to, all night long.

Saturday, Jan. 1

11 AM-1 PM

New Year's Day From Vienna 2022

The ever popular annual New Year’s Day Concert will be performed by the Vienna Philharmonic under the baton of Maestro Daniel Barenboim. With this concert it is not only the desire of the Vienna Philharmonic to provide musically definitive interpretations of the masterworks of this genre, but also, as musical ambassadors of Austria, to send people all over the world a New Year's greeting in the spirit of hope, friendship and peace. Hosted by WBUR's Lisa Mullins.

Classical New Hampshire

Sunday, Nov. 28

6-7 PM

Candles Burning Brightly

Candles Burning Brightly is a one-hour celebration of Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights with an exploration of Chanukah foods and traditional activities … and plenty of music.

Monday, Dec. 20

8-9 PM

Hygge Holiday: Cozy Classics

Join host Elena See for an hour-long program of nostalgic favorites for the winter season. Includes favorites from Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi, Debussy and Blake.

Tuesday, Dec. 21

8-9 PM

The Christmas Revels: In Celebration of the Winter Solstice 2021

A musical celebration of the Winter holidays -- Christmas, the Solstice, Chanukah, New Year’s, Jonkonnu and Twelfth Night/Epiphany -- featuring traditional carols, chants, wassails, hymns, children’s game-songs, and folk dance-tunes excerpted from live Christmas Revels stage productions presented around the country.

Wednesday, Dec. 22

8-9 PM

A Chanticleer Christmas

This one-hour program of holiday favorites, new and old, will be presented live in concert by Chanticleer, the superb 12-man ensemble known as "an orchestra of voices." Chanticleer is one of the premiere vocal ensembles in the nation. The ensemble has won two Grammys and is a member of the American Classical Music Hall of Fame.

Thursday, Dec. 23

8-9 PM

Hollywood Holiday

Lynne Warfel, host of Saturday Cinema, takes listeners on a one-hour musical retrospective of some of Hollywood's most cherished Christmas themed movies. Selections feature scores from “Scrooge, the Musical”, “A Muppet Christmas Carol”, “The Polar Express”, “It’s A Wonderful Life,” and more.

Friday, Dec. 24

6-7 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.

Saturday, Dec. 25

8-10 AM

St. Olaf Christmas Festival

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.

10-11 AM

A Soulful Christmas

A Soulful Christmas is an uplifting, relevant display of Black music in the classical, gospel, spiritual, and jazz-inspired style. This special celebrates the non-idiomatic Black classical music, while exploring non-idiomatic choral traditions.

11 AM-noon

Christmas with the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square

The sounds of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square floated into many homes during the holidays in the '60s & '70s on Goodyear and Firestone albums, bringing lush renditions of favorite Christmas carols. Those warm memories and feelings come right back again in this holiday special.

The choir continues its tradition of great artistry with touching arrangements of familiar carols, and surprises with lesser-known melodies that are fast becoming the new classics.

Noon-1 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.