Airs Thursday, December 25 at 2 p.m. What sweeter music can we bring than a carol… 17th-century English poet and cleric Robert Herrick captured the beauty of a joy-filled Christmas Day filled with sunshine and flowers. In 1988 John Rutter clothed these words in his own beautiful carol setting. This year the Rochester, NY chamber choir Madrigalia, and their new Artistic Director Cary Ratcliff, return to public radio for Christmas with Madrigalia 2014, a holiday concert that celebrates the beauty and joy of the season. This one-hour program, recorded live in concert, features beautiful music for the season by John Rutter, David Conte, Ola Gjielo, Michael Praetorious, Philip Stopford, and John Tavener, along with a number of Cary Ratcliff’s own arrangements.

Airs Thursday, December 25 at 1 p.m. Over the past nine years PRI and Washington National Cathedral have developed an audience for a Christmas Lessons & Carols as a part of the Cathedral’s own Christmas activities and PRI’s Holiday specials. With the Cathedral choirs and guest musicians, along with actors and clergy, the Cathedral Music and Worship department has been able to develop its own distinctive style of broadcasting of the Nativity story through readings, hymns, anthems and carols. The program has a reach nationwide of over 100 stations, geographically reaching from Honolulu and Alaska to Florida, New England, the Midwest and Virginia. Now comes a new tradition - Messiah from Washington  National Cathedral - with the unstoppable popularity of Handel’s Messiah each Christmas across America from concert halls and churches. Each year the Cathedral’s annual Messiah performances during the first weekend of December attract an audience of some 6000 from the greater Washington area. With a team of the finest international soloists, coming from the US and abroad, these performances offer exceptional value for a very high-quality, popular Christmas broadcast. 

Airs Wednesday, December 24 at 9 a.m.Hosted by Michael Barone, this is a live stereo music and spoken-word broadcast from the chapel of King's College in Cambridge, England. The 30-voice King's College Choir performs the legendary Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols service of Biblical readings and music.

Airs Saturday, December 20 at 7 p.m. Celebrate the return of the sun and the warming of the heart with Paul Winter's All New 34th Winter Solstice Celebration. On the darkest night of the year, we head back to New York's Cathedral of St. John the Divine to hear The Paul Winter Consort and the glorious Cathedral Pipe Organ. The performance brings traditional holiday favorites and new sounds from around the world with special guests Ivan Lins and Renato Braz. Hosted by John Schaefer. 

Airs Tuesday, December 24 at 7 p.m. Classical New England's James David Jacobs goes behind the scenes for Boston Ballet's The Nutcracker, uncovering the secrets of Tchaikovsky's masterpiece with conductor Jonathan McPhee, cast members, and the audience at the Boston Opera House. The story – and the music – unfolds as never before in this gripping narrative.