A Light for Bleak Midwinter

A Light for Bleak Midwinter

Good morning!

This weekend, I was on a video call with my family, who asked, “What time does the sun set today?”

“Probably 4:30,” I said, and then checked my weather app, only to discover that the sun would actually set at 4:12pm. This is the part of winter I like the least — each day a little darker than the one that came before. It’s no wonder, then, that so many of our winter holidays are celebrations of light. It’s even less of a wonder that those celebrations, lit by flickering candles or brightly-colored bulbs, are also times of gathering and community, and most importantly for this newsletter, of song.

So many of my glowing holiday memories center around music: caroling parties, with friends and family crowded around a piano; outings to the Holiday Pops, or to A Christmas Celtic Sojourn; evenings curled up at home with a good book and a mug of something warm, a Nat King Cole CD playing in the other room. In these dark and cold midwinter days, music keeps us warm — or, at risk of sounding corny as all get-out, at least it warms our hearts.

With that in mind, it’s high time to turn on some holiday tunes! You can find all of our holiday music programming here, including our three 24/7 holiday music streams: Heavenly Holiday Classics, Perfect Holiday Party Soundtrack, and Ultimate Holiday Classical Mix. A neat trick: you can play the holiday streams on your smart speaker, too! Here’s how.

What else is happening at CRB? Read on!


Get into the holiday spirit by joining GBH Music for a festive evening, live from the GBH Studios in Brighton on December 15!


  • Saturday at 8pm, in an encore Boston Symphony broadcast, Paul Lewis is the soloist in Beethoven’s Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 4, and Andris Nelsons leads the world premiere of the orchestral version of Caroline Shaw’s “Punctum.”


  • On WCRB with Boston Early Music Festival, sopranos Amanda Forsythe, Teresa Wakim, and Danielle Reutter-Harrah, and bass-baritone Douglas Williams anchor the casts of rarely heard dramatic cantatas for the season by Stradella, with the BEMF Chamber Ensemble, on demand.


  • On The Bach Hour, one of the composer’s crowning masterpieces is channeled through the intimate resonance of the harp, and Nikolaus Harnoncourt conducts the Cantata No. 61, for Advent.

  • On The Bach Hour, Masaaki Suzuki leads music of excitement and meditation for the season, and the Academy for Ancient Music Berlin performs the Orchestral Suite No. 2.


  • Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the warm brew in your cup is delightful. Composers thought so too!

  • “The heart that gives thanks is a happy one, for we cannot feel thankful and unhappy at the same time.” – Douglas Wood (author, illustrator, naturalist)

  • Maurice Ravel’s experiences in World War One influenced at least one piece of music he composed — “Le Tombeau de Couperin.” The piece serves as a lasting tribute to friends lost in war.

The Note is always free, but this week, it’s even freer — we’re sharing it online so you can share it with your friends! If you’ve read this far, first of all, thank you; second of all, share this link on social media so your friends know they can subscribe here.

Have a great week! I’ll talk to you soon.
Kendall Todd