Your Thanksgiving: Music To The Rescue!

By Cheryl Willoughby

Thanksgiving cooking tools

Thanksgiving cooking tools, from the traditional to the high-tech (images via Wikimedia Commons)

No matter what your holiday preparations and traditions are, let Classical New England take care of the music while you worry about the rest.

We live in a time when one must make an active choice to do things simply. Let’s take the traditional Thanksgiving dinner: discussion nowadays revolves as much (or more!) around the latest gadgets and preparation techniques as it does the actual food being cooked.

To brine, or not to brine? Shall we go with the good ol’ basted and roasted bird, or maybe something more trendy and adventurous like “turducken” or its vegan counterpart, the gigantesque “veggieducken”? And why stick with the old fashioned pumpkin pie when choices like pumpkin parfaits, tortes, trifles and mousses are so tempting?

This week I even learned about an app that will plan your entire meal for you, detailing all of the steps in the prep and assure your timing – AND the resulting meal – are impeccable. Impressive.

And yet somehow at this time of the year I still get nostalgic for the holidays of childhood, where the cranberry jelly was served with indentations from the can still freshly impressed upon it, and dinner was always accompanied by the special holiday “punch” my Mom stirred together with equal parts 7Up and Hi-C (whatever flavor the red one was). We didn’t have an app or a digital meat thermometer to check on the turkey’s roasting progress throughout the afternoon; we had my Dad.

These things were important at the time and I cherish them now as memories because they were part of our particular family’s meal tradition. And they were simple.

The real key to holiday success and happiness, it seems, lies in being able to find some balance in the many competing elements of the season: modern convention, vs. tradition. Indulgence, vs. temperance. Elaboration, vs. a more modest aesthetic.

New England Autumn

New England Autumn (from Our Life in Words)
So here’s what we’d like to do, in the effort of streamlining things and helping you to keep your focus where it needs to be on the big day: let Classical New England take care of the music while you worry about the rest.

In the morning as the yams are being sliced and the dinner rolls are rising, Laura Carlo will be whipping up a feast of favorites including the inspiring Hymn to New England, by John Williams, and Antonin Dvorák’s gorgeous Silent Woods.

Later in the morning Alan McLellan gives us the inspiring sounds of Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring, the Dale Warland Singers’ stunning recording Harvest Home, and Beethoven’s joyous Symphony No. 6, the “Pastoral.” At noon, Café Europa celebrates the grandeur of America with Antonin Dvorák’s expansive Symphony No. 9, the “New World.”

And Cathy Fuller takes us right on through the afternoon with the Boston Camerata’s classic Americana recording, Trav’ling Home; Beethoven’s triumphant Choral Fantasy, and selections from Boston pianist Michael Lewin’s collection, If I Were A Bird.

The rich musical repast continues at 5pm as the Minnesotan vocal ensemble Cantus sings hymns, spirituals and songs of gratitude in their Thanksgiving with Cantus.

At 6pm it’s Giving Thanks, as John Birge hosts a special hour reflecting on the meaning of the holiday with poetry, music, and stories.

At 7pm, Performance Today features a cross-country tour highlighting some of the best music and performances America has to offer.

And then at 9pm, just about the time we’re enjoying a glass of brandy and, perhaps, a small second serving of dessert, James David Jacobs arrives to cap off the evening with a delicious final round of savory delights for the occasion.

Cheers, from our family to yours! As we honor the old traditions, and make new ones, and with very best wishes from all of us at Classical New England for a bountiful and – simply – beautiful Thanksgiving, bon appétit!


View Playlists


WCRB Programs and Features

Boston Symphony Orchestra
Sunday Night Special Concerts
The Bach Hour
CD of the Week
Classical Performance Podcast

Sunday Night Opera

Follow WCRB

Sign Up

Sign-up for updates from 99.5 WCRB, WGBH promotions, and previews of what's coming up on WGBH TV.




Support for WGBH is provided by:
Become a WGBH sponsor