Christmas Eve on Radio Riel

in Daily Programme

by Elrik Merlin on Saturday, 24 December, 2011

‘Twas the day before Christmas
And all round the dial
Christmas stations were playing
Some good and some vile.

There was pop, there was Goth,
Heavy Metal and froth,
And quite ghastly numbers
That best be forgot

But there is one station
That plays what you feel
Around this time of year -
And that’s Radio Riel!

Join Radio Riel for a traditional Christmas Eve around the wireless, listening-in to the music you love.

Today we will be bringing you a selection of seasonal music from many of the genres we cover on Radio Riel’s Main Stream, from Early Music to New Age, including classical, folk and other genres.

Included in the music programming today will be a special treat: a compilation of excellent Christmas music in a classical and Early Music vein, originally compiled by John Whiting, a staff member of the famous KPFA radio station in Berkeley in the 1960s. He writes,

When I joined the staff of the UC Berkeley Music Library in 1958, I was asked to put together a selection of appropriate music for the University Library’s Christmas party. For a couple of delightful weeks I spent my spare time going through various record collections, including my own, and making a selection of Christmas music, ancient and modern, that avoided the usual war-horses. (Bing Crosby’s lugubrious rendition of Silent Night was conspicuous by its absence.) The tapes were played every subsequent Christmas.

Four years later at KPFA I put them up as miscellany to fill the odd gaps in the broadcast schedule during the Christmas season. In 1966 I brought the masters with me to London, where, as sound technology evolved, I transferred them successively to compact cassette, then to minidisk, then to CD and ultimately into mp3…”

John Whiting’s compilation is in four roughly half-hour segments and a segment will be broadcast at the top of the hour every even-numbered hour. His programme notes list some of the pieces included in the programme:

  • Corelli, Christmas Concerto   First of several recordings by I Musici
  • A Mediaeval Christmas    New York Pro Musica, conducted by Noah Greenberg.
  • Traditional French carols    Choral/instrumental arrangements from an LP that a friend had brought back from France.
  • Benjamin Britten, Ceremony of Carols   Conducted by the composer. (The pronounciation and intonation of the Danish boys choir leaves something to be desired.)
  • Traditional Early English Carols   Performed by Alfred Deller and the Deller Consort.
  • Hans Leo Hassler, Motets   Deutsche Grammophon Archiv.
  • Hector Berlioz, L’Enfance du Christ   Boston Symphony, conducted by Charles Munch.
  • J. S. Bach, Christmas Oratorio, Opening Chorus & Sinfonia   Deutsche Grammophon Archiv ARC3079. This was one  of the great German conductor Fritz Lehmann’s last recordings before his death in 1955; Gunther Arndt conducted the last two of the six cantatas in 1956. I still have the original LPs.
  • Music of Medieval Court and Countryside  Russell Oberlin, New York Pro Musica conducted by Noah Greenberg. Half a century ago the fans of Russell Oberlin and Alfred Deller were as passionate in their divergence as the followers of Stravinsky and Schoenberg. We in the Oberlin camp prized his instrumental purity and austerity and his extended range, totally free of falsetto; today I metaphorically embrace them both.

A Caledon Christmas CarolThen in the slot usually occupied by the ZBS Radio Hour, which is on hiatus until the New Year — 11am and 7pm Pacific (19:00 and 03:00 GMT) — we bring you the fabulous, the amazing, the remarkable Caledon Christmas Carol performed by the Radio Riel Players in three parts — the first two back-to-back from the top of the hour and the third and final part after a 30-minute break. Join us for this fabulous adaptation of Dickens’ classic Christmas ghost story.

And a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us here at Radio Riel to our sponsors and most of all to you, our listeners, who make it all worthwhile.

Today’s programme is presented by Elrik Merlin and produced by Radio Riel in conjunction with our friends at the Alexandrian Free Library Consortium of Second Life. You can listen to the programme in-world now at, or simply click here to start your player, if your browser is configured to do so. Listeners in the United States are encouraged to tune in using this link:

For more information on the Alexandrian Free Library, current exhibits and the work of Consortium members in general, please visit the Alexandrian Free Library website, or one of their branches in-world.

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