This holiday season, WTTW, Chicago’s PBS station, and WFMT, Chicago’s classical radio station, will present a variety of special content throughout the holiday season. From holiday classics to one-of-a-kind concerts featuring some of the world’s best musicians, WTTW and WFMT’s holiday programming offers festive content for all.
New and notable WTTW holiday programming includes:
- A Charlie Brown Christmas
Sunday, December 13 from 6:30-7:00 pm
This holiday classic comes to WTTW for the first time this year. Feeling down about the commercialism of Christmas, Charlie Brown becomes the director of the gang’s holiday play. Can he overcome his friends’ preference for dancing over acting, find the “perfect” tree, and discover the true meaning of Christmas?
- Christmas with the Tabernacle Choir featuring Kelli O’Hara and Richard Thomas
Monday, December 14 from 9:00-10:00 pm; Thursday, December 24 from 11:00 pm to 12:00 am; Friday, December 25 from 3:30 to 4:30 am
The Tabernacle Choir is joined by Broadway headliner Kelli O’Hara and actor Richard Thomas (The Waltons), for this beloved Christmas tradition featuring favorite holiday music, dancing, and storytelling.
- Ella Wishes You a Swingin’ Christmas, with Vanessa Williams
Tuesday, December 15 from 8:00-9:00 pm
Jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald’s iconic holiday classics album is presented by the American Pops Orchestra, and features appearances by Dee Bridgewater, Norm Lewis, Carmen Ruby Floyd, Nova Payton, Dave Detwiler, and Morgan James.
- I Am Ireland
Tuesday, December 15 from 9:00-10:00 pm
This new special features songs and stories by the traditional Irish tenor Paddy Homan and the 40 members of The City Lights Orchestra, conducted by Rich Daniels. This program was filmed at Chicago’s renowned Old St. Patrick’s Church and in the private residences of musicians.
- Chicago Stories: The Marshall Field’s Christmas Windows
Friday, December 18 from 8:30-9:00 pm; Tuesday, December 22 from 10:30-11:00 pm; Thursday, December 24 from 7:30-8:00 pm
For more than a century, Marshall Field’s flagship department store delighted children at Christmas time – the biggest attraction being the Christmas windows. These fantasies behind glass were a huge marketing success for the company, but they have come to mean much more to the people of Chicago.
- Wheaton College Christmas Festival 2020: Through His Own Redeeming Love
Thursday, December 24 from 8:00-9:00 pm; Friday, December 25 from 12:30-1:30 am Watch as the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music in Wheaton, Illinois, performs its annual Christmas Festival Concert, Through His Own Redeeming love. The performance features the local college’s Concert Choir, Harp Ensemble, Men’s Glee Club, Women’s Chorale and Symphonic Band.
- The St. Olaf Christmas Festival: A New Song of Joy and Hope
Thursday, December 24 from 9:00-10:00 pm; Friday, December 25 from 1:30-2:30 am
This year’s festival features both individual and massed ensemble performances from the St. Olaf Choir, the St. Olaf Orchestra, the St. Olaf Cantorei, the St. Olaf Chapel Choir, the Manitou Singers, and the Viking Chorus.
- Call the Midwife Holiday Special 2020
Friday, December 25 from 8:00-9:30 pm; Sunday, December 27 from 9:00-10:30 pm
This holiday special takes viewers back to Christmas 1965 as Nonnatus House looks forward to a traditional Christmas, but things do not go as planned.
Notable WFMT special holiday programming includes:
- Chicago Symphony Orchestra Radio Broadcasts: Handel’s Messiah
Sunday, December 6 at 8:00 pm
Tune in for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s special presentation of Handel’s Messiah with the Chicago Symphony Chorus and featured soloists Amanda Forsythe, Sasha Cooke, Nicholas Phan, and Joshua Hopkins, conducted by Matthew Halls.
- Christmas on Sugarloaf Mountain – Irish Appalachian Music
Sunday, December 13 at 7:00 pm; Friday, December 25 at 6:00 pm
This new special showcases the spirit and history of Appalachia’s Irish and Scottish roots through music performed by early-music ensemble Apollo’s Fire, led by Jeannette Sorrell. During the special, listeners will be transported from Christmas Eve in medieval Scotland to the folk carols and shape-note hymns of Christmas gatherings in Virginia. Co-hosted by Sorrell and Candice Agree.
- Beethoven’s 250th Birthday Celebration
Throughout December, various dates and times
Hear special Beethoven content all month, on many series. On the anniversary itself, Wednesday, December 16, the Avalon String Quartet dedicates a live Dame Myra Hess concert to Beethoven, followed later by the Symphony No. 7 conducted by Carlos Kleiber, the Emperor piano concerto with soloist Alessio Bax, and the Symphony No. 9 conducted by Leonard Bernstein in 1989 celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall.
- Itzhak Perlman’s Hanukkah Radio Party
Thursday, December 17 at 8:00 pm
The famed violinist samples a great variety of music for the Jewish Festival of Lights.
- For New Year’s Eve: Favorites of the WFMT Hosts
Thursday, December 31 at 8:00 pm
George Preston hosts an end-of-year broadcast featuring a multitude of varied music choices – classical, jazz, and folk – from WFMT’s hosts and programmers, as they look back on the challenges and struggles of 2020 and forward with hope for the new year of 2021.