Classical 101 Holiday Special: Christmas with Christopher

Dec 20, 2017

My colleagues and I have each been asked to put together an hour of our favorite holiday music for broadcast during Christmas weekend.

I've never been any good at titles. Left to me, "The Great Gatsby" would have been called "Riding in Cars with Girls" or some such. I couldn't think of a title for Christopher Purdy's Christmas favorites — hmm, maybe that is a title — so Christmas with Christopher will have to do.

You're invited to share some time with me Christmas Eve at 7 p.m. I'll be playing an hour's worth of my favorites. Here, I'll tell you why some of these pieces are special to me.

On the Christmas with Christopher lineup, we have the Boston Camerata, Marilyn Horne, the Ohio State University Men's Glee Club, Julie Andrews and more.

Julie Andrews? As in, Mary Poppins?

Yes, because in the mid-'60s you could go into any Firestone Tire store and buy A Firestone Christmas with Julie Andrews and Andre Previn for $3My parents loved this Julie Andrews recording (Mary and Bill may not have been aware of Andre Previn). I'm playing The Bethlehem Carol in my parents' memory. 

For me, it's the Boston Camerata, a hometown band. While in college, I always wanted to be a member of this ensemble, but I never had the musical chops. Forty years later, I'm still a fan of the Camerata's A Renaissance Christmas ​​and Sing We NoelChristmas Music from England and Early America.

One of my horrible college-era apartments had a group of airline pilots living across the hall. Their two-bedroom domicile was a pit stop between international flights — party house, too, but it's Christmas so I shall digress. But what do you know? They loved this and played it constantly, winter and summer, spring and fall:

In high school, our choir director the late Mrs. Peaslee loved these two carols from the Spanish Renaissance: E la don don, Verges Maria and Riu Riu Chiu, imitating the growls of a Spanish Renaissance wolf. "Dios guardo e lobo de nuestra cordera!" ("May God keep the wolf from our lady!")

That's the last sample! I don't want to give away the rest of the show, so you'll have to tune in at 7 p.m. Christmas Eve for more. We'll hear Chanticleer, Luciano Pavarotti, Eileen Farrell and the Revels' company. Oh yes, the Revels.

For years, John Langstaff led sumptuous holiday programs at Harvard's Sanders Theatre. Crowds came from everywhere except Harvard! 

Years later, I ran the record (not CD) department at Barnes & Noble on Fifth Avenue in New York. Every Christmas, I played the Revels' company. Complaints galore. Nobody liked it but me. But I promise you, The Lord of the Dance will have you reaching for the eggnog — and maybe even adding some extra spike.

P.S. Here's a favorite I forgot! I am a child of the '60s, after all.

Have a groovy Christmas!

Join Christopher Purdy for his one-hour special Christmas with Christopher at 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 24 on Classical 101.