WETA airs ‘Washington Voices: Songs of the Season’ with a dozen of local groups

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Washington Voices' (Part 1)

As COVID-19 cases spike nationwide, in-person holiday concerts are hard to come by.

On Tuesday night, WETA airs “Washington Voices: Songs of the Season” at 9 p.m.

“This holiday season, people are missing choruses and choirs rejoicing in song and uplifting music … so we decided if you can’t go to the music, we’ll bring the music to you,” executive producer Glenn Baker told WTOP. “How can we find a way to support struggling choirs while serving a community that’s starved for good vibes right now?”

The one-hour production is the latest episode of the local PBS series “WETA Arts,” featuring 15 recorded performances by 12 local organizations from 2006 and 2020.

“There is a large and vibrant choral scene in this area,” Baker said. “In fact, the D.C. area has the second-most choruses and choirs of any city in America — after Minneapolis. The choruses we feature reflect the diversity of our wonderful region.”

The following organizations are participating in the broadcast:

  • Choralis (Falls Church, VA): “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”
  • Alfred Street Baptist Church Music Ministry Choir (Alexandria, VA): “A Multitude of Angels”
  • The Thirteen (Washington, D.C.): “In the Bleak Midwinter”
  • Washington Performing Arts — Children of the Gospel Choir (Washington, D.C.): “Emmanuel”
  • Alexandria Harmonizers (Alexandria, VA): “Gloria”
  • Zemer Chai, The Jewish Chorale of the Nation’s Capital (Kensington, MD): “Mizmor Laila”
  • Cathedral Choral Society (Washington, D.C.): “Jesus Christ, the Apple Tree”
  • Children’s Chorus of Washington — Bel Canto Chorus (Washington, D.C.): “Christmas Morning”
  • The Choral Arts Society of Washington (Washington, D.C.): “O Magnum Mysterium”
  • Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC (Washington, D.C.): “Hanukkah Rhapsody”
  • Choralis (Falls Church, VA): “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”
  • Washington Performing Arts — Gospel Choirs (Washington, D.C.): “Silent Night”
  • Encore Chorale (Washington, D.C. & Baltimore Metro Regions): “Hallelujah Chorus”
  • Children’s Chorus of Washington — Concert Chorus (Washington, D.C.): “Peace, Peace”
  • Fairfax Choral Society Vocal Arts Ensemble (Fairfax, VA): “Sleigh Ride”

The idea was created by Margaret Nomura Clark, artistic director of the Children’s Chorus of Washington, while the WETA broadcast is produced by Judy Meschel.

“She’s sifted through dozens and dozens of performances,” Baker said. “Some took place at the Kennedy Center or churches around the area. [They] are well-recorded, well-performed, well-shot and are just a joy to listen to. …  Seeing the happiness on the singers’ faces, especially the children’s choirs, will bring a tear of joy to your eye.”

What’s the ideal viewing setting?

“Hunker down at home in your favorite soft chair with your favorite person, people, animals, or on your own,” Baker said. “Call this up and enjoy the sounds of the season. Maybe you’ve got a fire crackling, maybe you’ve got a candle burning, you’ve got a hot rum toddy or some eggnog — or maybe you don’t, but you’ve got a song in your heart.”

He hopes this unique holiday reminds audiences to never take the arts for granted.

“This season is different, but there’s a lot still to be thankful for,” Baker said. “You don’t realize what you’ve got until it’s taken away. … A lot of people are experiencing the absence of family and the inability to get together with other people. This music will help people connect, then next year people will appreciate the season all the more.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Washington Voices' (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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