December is filled with local and international Christmas musical performances and family holiday specials to warm your nights.
Reprising the original Kingston Trio lineup’s 1960 holiday album The Last Month of the Year, the current trio (comprised of George Grove, Bill Zorn and Rick Dougherty) perform this unique collection of holiday tunes in The Kingston Trio: Holiday Cheers (Monday, Dec. 7, at 9 PM). The special includes a pre-recorded appearance by the legendary Bob Shane, co-founder and sole surviving member of the original trio, making what would be his final concert appearance.
In Christmas With the Tabernacle Choir Featuring Kelli O’Hara and Richard Thomas (Monday, Dec. 14, at 8 PM), the Tabernacle Choir, Orchestra at Temple Square, and Bells at Temple Square join with actress and singer Kelli O’Hara and actor Richard Thomas to celebrate the message of Christmas — a message of love, selfless service, and gratitude for a savior who brings peace. With vocalists, instrumentalists, bell ringers, dancers, the Gabriel Trumpet Ensemble, and the Cold Creek bluegrass band, the concert is a visual and musical spectacle.
The University of Idaho Holiday Concert (Tuesday, Dec. 15, at 7 PM and Friday, Dec. 18, at 10:30 PM) celebrates the holidays Idaho style. Local middle- and high-school choral groups, orchestras, bell choirs, flute choirs and jazz ensembles perform holiday classics together with musicians from the U of I’s Lionel Hampton School of Music. It’s a University of Idaho holiday tradition with an eclectic selection of old (and maybe new) seasonal favorites for the entire family to enjoy.
Enjoy an evening celebrating jazz great Ella Fitzgerald’s entire iconic album of holiday classics presented by the American Pops Orchestra and special guest performers in Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas With Vanessa Williams (Tuesday, Dec. 15, at 8 PM). Williams is joined by Dee Dee Bridgewater, Norm Lewis, Carmen Ruby Floyd, Nova Payton, Dave Detwiler and Morgan James to sing new life into this collection of holiday favorites originally recorded by Fitzgerald in 1960 at the peak of her interpretive prowess.
For many families over several generations, the celebration of the Advent/Christmas/Epiphany season begins with the annual St. Olaf Christmas Festival, a century-old tradition of St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. The college is unable to offer an in-person celebration this year, but The St. Olaf Christmas Festival: A New Song of Joy and Hope will still air (Monday, Dec. 21, at 9 PM). The special will feature treasured musical performances captured from recent St. Olaf Christmas Festival presentations with additional material from past festivals not seen in many years.
A BYU-Idaho Christmas is an annual tradition that draws audiences from throughout eastern Idaho for a holiday concert that features nationally renowned singers performing with the symphony orchestra, dancers, and an array of choirs from Brigham Young University-Idaho in Rexburg. This year’s broadcast (Tuesday, Dec. 22, at 7 PM and Friday, Dec. 25, at 9:30 PM) features acclaimed opera singer Frederica Von Stade and the San Francisco-based Sonos Handbell Ensemble.
In a concert tradition that began in the 1930s, the Crane Chorus and Crane Symphony Orchestra at SUNY Potsdam come together each year to present a special holiday performance. Crane Candlelight Concert: Go Tell It on the Mountain (Wednesday, Dec. 23, at 9 PM) features Broadway and opera star Lisa Vroman performing holiday favorites “O Holy Night,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and her unique arrangements of “The Secret of Christmas” and “Go Tell It on the Mountain.”
Call the Midwife Holiday Special 2020 (Friday, Dec. 25, at 8 PM) takes viewers to 1965, where Nonnatus House staff are looking forward to traditional celebrations with all the trimmings, but nothing goes quite as planned. Sister Monica Joan is rushed to the hospital and Trixie is incensed to receive a subscription to a matchmaking service as a Christmas gift. In addition to new friendships, new experiences, and an exciting adventure for Nurse Crane, the circus rolls into Poplar with Peter Davison (Doctor Who) taking the role of circus ringmaster, Mr. Percival.
Say goodbye to 2020 with a concert celebrating the irrepressible strength of Americans with United in Song: Celebrating the Resilience of America (Thursday, Dec. 31, at 9 PM). The concert, recorded at Mt. Vernon, features a fireworks finale and performances by Renée Fleming, Joshua Bell, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Brandi Carlile, Audra McDonald, Denyce Graves, Anna Deavere Smith, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Patti LaBelle, the National Symphony Orchestra, the American Pops Orchestra and the Military Brass Ensemble.