A Christmas Sampler

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"In some ways I was quite an enterprising and far-sighted lad. The only trouble was the things I was enterprising about."
—Frank O’Connor, "Christmas Morning."

A Christmas sampler, touching and funny, naughty and nice.
The esthetic mission-statement of Symphony Space says that we like to blur the boundaries between artistic disciplines, so this program features MARK TWAIN: A MINI DRAMA, a musical composition set to sage selections from Twain, composed by John Duffy for the Ying Quartet. Isaiah Sheffer narrates the pieces, which climaxes in a section about Huckleberry Finn and the runaway slave Jim on that raft in the river, which fit nicely into a SELECTED SHORTS evening called “WE’RE ON OUR WAY HOME”.

From here on out “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,” beginning with an excerpt from a holiday program that celebrated the handsome book CHRISTMAS AT THE NEW YORKER, with Roger Angell as host. Once we had chosen Frank O’Connor’s story CHRISTMAS MORNING for inclusion in the program it was only a matter of reaching for the telephone to summon actor, writer, raconteur and former barkeep Malachy McCourt, who, regular listeners will know, holds the franchise for reading O’Connor tales at SELECTED SHORTS.

Our program drawn from CHRISTMAS AT THE NEW YORKER also included a sampling of the yuletide poetry found within it. This program closes with three selections: Robert Pinsky’s ICICLES, read by McCourt, Calvin Trillin’s subversive CHRISTMAS IN QATAR, read by the author, and James Thurber’s revisionist version of The Night Before Christmas, called “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” read by Isaiah Sheffer.

Mark Twain: A Mini Drama by John Duffy, with Isaiah and Ying Quartet
Christmas Morning by Frank O’Connor, read by Malachy McCourt
A Visit from Saint Nicholas by James Thurber, read by Isaiah
Icicles by Robert Pinsky, read by Malachy McCourt
Christmas in Qatar by Calvin Trillin, read by the authorby the author