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14 December 2022, 08:45 | Updated: 16 December 2022, 10:25
From carols at Buckingham Palace, to a festive special with the Bocelli family – read on to explore our December 2022 radio highlights on Classic FM, the home of Christmas music.
From beloved Christmas carols to wintery classical masterpieces, Classic FM provides the perfect soundtrack to December’s celebrations.
Throughout the festive period, our presenters and a selection of special guests share their own Christmas stories, bring heartwarming tales to life, and take you to the front row of some of the UK’s finest carol services – all with a generous helping of brilliant music along the way.
The greatest Christmas carol descants of all time!
The festivities begin on Sunday 18 December with an evening of delightful storytelling from our very own Zeb Soanes. In a special programme for all the family, join Zeb at 6.30pm as he narrates his own children’s tale, Gaspard’s Christmas, about a friendly urban fox who makes a surprising discovery in the snow. The programme also features music written by Jonathan Dove and performed by Classic FM’s Orchestra in Scotland, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
At 7pm on 18 December, join Charlotte Hawkins as she speaks to Andrea Bocelli and two of his children, Matteo and Virginia, in an exclusive interview for Classic FM. Find out how the star tenor and his family celebrate Christmas, in a programme filled with joy, laughter, and some of the family’s favourite music for this time of year.
Stay tuned on 18 December, as Moira Stuart is joined at 9pm by one of choral music’s greatest living composers. John Rutter, who is especially loved for his Christmas music, tells Moira all about what inspires him most, and why so much of his work is devoted to Christmas. He also selects some of his own musical choices, from Bach to Billy Joel.
From Wednesday 21 to Friday 23 December, Zeb Soanes dedicates the final hour of his programme to some of London’s most glorious carol concerts. Join Zeb at 9pm on Wednesday as he transports us to St Martin-in-the-Fields, where St Martin’s Voices perform a choral rendition of the Nativity story, with music by Britten, Rutter, and the premiere performance of Bob Chilcott’s ‘Mary Mother’.
On Thursday at 9pm, Zeb finds himself in St Paul’s Church in Knightsbridge, for a carol concert in aid of The Prince’s Foundation.
And on Friday 23 December he presents a special evening of live carols and readings from the stunning St Paul’s Cathedral, held by the Guide Dogs charity. There’ll be music from St Paul’s Cathedral Choir, with festive readings by David Bradley, Ruth Jones, and Bridgerton star Adjoa Andoh.
On Christmas Eve at 7.30pm, presenter and journalist Fiona Bruce presents a very special carol concert. Join her on Classic FM to hear Carols from the Royal Hospital Chelsea, held in support of cancer charity Maggie’s, and starring baritone Roderick Williams, violin prodigy Leia Zhu, and soprano Ellie Laugharne.
On Christmas Day, shortly after His Majesty The King delivers his first annual Christmas message at 3pm, Alan Titchmarsh presents a carol service from the heart of Buckingham Palace itself, held in the Palace Ballroom as a thank-you to the members of the Royal Household for their work throughout the year. The Choir of the Chapel Royal perform a collection of carols, with readings from the Palace staff.
This Christmas Eve from 1pm to 5.30pm, Anne-Marie Minhall presents a special festive edition of Classic FM Requests. Let Anne-Marie know what you’re doing, and the music you’d love to hear by texting 61812, or via Amazon Alexa by saying, “Alexa, send a comment to Classic FM”, for the chance to hear it played on Classic FM.
Join Anne-Marie for another special festive edition of Classic FM Requests, on Christmas Day from 10am.
You’ve sent in your votes, we’ve checked them (twice), and on Christmas Day from 1pm John Brunning will reveal this year’s countdown of the Top 30 Christmas carols.
‘O Holy Night’ has been the forerunner for six years in a row, but can it be beaten this year? Join us on Classic FM, to find out The Nation’s Favourite Carol in 2022.
From the timeless Nativity story to favourite Christmas movies, storytelling has been a festive tradition for those of all ages, since time immemorial.
Gather round for a seasonal story this Christmas Eve, as Aled Jones narrates The Snowman, at 5.30pm. Aled, who reached widespread renown in the 1980s for his recording of ‘Walking in the Air’ from Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman, now narrates the timeless story in a Christmas Eve tradition on Classic FM, accompanied by Howard Blake’s wonderful music.
Then, on Christmas Day at 5pm, Moira Stuart narrates an abridged version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, interspersed with favourite carols and festive melodies that were either written or revived during the Victorian era.
Our final festive story arrives on the afternoon of Boxing Day, courtesy of Tim Lihoreau, as he presents The Very Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra at 2pm. Based on our recently published book of the same name, Tim explores ten orchestral instruments and some of the music that shows them off at their greatest, in a fun and informative guide to classical music for families.
Zeb Soanes introduces our new book, ‘The Very Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra’
From Boxing Day to the end of December, John Suchet returns to Classic FM, to present Classical Music Unboxed – a five-part crash course in classical music. If you’ve joined us for the first time over the Christmas period, or always wanted to know more about classical music but weren’t sure where to start, John provides the perfect introduction.
Each episode focuses on a different area, from the court of Henry VIII to the 21st century soundtracks of film music maestro John Williams. For more seasoned listeners to Classic FM, too, John (Suchet) unlocks some of the mysteries behind the jargon, with brilliant music and sparkling gems of classical music trivia.
Join him on Classic FM from 7pm on Monday 26 December, and from 8pm from Tuesday 27 to Friday 30 December.
The festive December period also sees the end of the religious festival of Hanukkah, and at 9pm on Monday 26 December Rabbi Dr Thomas Salamon presents a special programme to mark the occasion. Salamon, who is Rabbi Emeritus at Westminster Synagogue, features classical music connected to and celebrating the Jewish faith, including part of Handel’s oratorio Judas Maccabaeus and Prokofiev’s Overture on Hebrew Themes.
Organist Anna Lapwood plays epic Bach at Royal Albert Hall
Over four days, from Tuesday 27 to Friday 30 December, we dedicate the day to some of the greatest classical music of all time, as decided by listeners across the UK. Every piece of music played between 9am and 5pm is taken from the current Classic FM Hall of Fame Top 300, made up of hundreds of thousands of votes each Easter.
After an eventful year, during which we’ve celebrated 30 years of Classic FM, 90 years of John Williams, The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and plenty more, it seems only right that we should see 2022 out in style.
To celebrate the year that’s been, and welcome in the new, David Mellor hosts his annual Viennese Up on Classic FM, from 4pm to 7pm on Saturday 31 December. David dons his party hat for a sparkling afternoon of music from one of the greatest hubs for creativity and classical music – Vienna.
He celebrates the very best music from the iconic Vienna New Year’s Concert from the city’s Musikverein, which has taken place every year since 1941 and has been conducted by some of classical music’s greatest names from Daniel Barenboim to Herbert von Karajan.
Pianist Alberto Giurioli plays calming music for RSPCA rescue dog
Then, as outdoor festivities begin in the evening with firework displays across the nation, Classic FM’s Pet Classics makes a return after a hugely successful Bonfire Night in October this year. Join Katie Breathwick from 7pm for three hours of classical music, created with the nation’s furry, feathered, and scaly companions in mind.