OK, we can all start playing Christmas music now. And since there's no Christmas like a Country Christmas, that means country music. Because, somehow Christmas and country music just seem to go together. So it should come as no surprise that many of the best Christmas songs you will ever hear are country Christmas songs. To begin with the single best Christmas album we've ever heard is by Alabama and it's simply titled "Christmas." This is the first Alabama Christmas album issued in 1985. Every song on this album is wonderful but some of our favorites include Santa Claus (I Still Believe In You), Christmas Memories, Tennessee Christmas and Christmas in Dixie. We also like all of the songs on Clint Black's 1995 album "Looking for Christmas." Favorites from a variety of other albums include: 364 Days to Go by Brad Paisley, This Is My Prayer by Reba McEntire, When It's Christmas Time In Texas and Christmas Cookies by George Strait, Goin' Home for Christmas by Merle Haggard, and (a perennial favorite) Christmas Times A-Comin' by Bill Monroe. Among non-country Christmas songs we like Santa Baby (the original by Eartha Kitt) When My Heart Finds Christmas and I Pray On Christmas by Harry Connick, Jr. as well as It Happened In Sun Valley by Mel Torme and Christmas in New Orleans by Louis Armstrong. A friend who takes a somewhat different view of Christmas has asked that we add Merry Christmas From The Family by Robert Earl Keen and Granma Got Run Over By A Reindeer by Elmo and Patsy Shropshire. So there, we've added them.
Jim leaves the bright lights of show business behind to settle down on his farmhouse in Connecticut… but life just isn’t the same without a bit of song and dance. Jim’s luck takes a spectacular turn when he meets Linda, a spirited schoolteacher with talent to spare. Together they turn the farmhouse into a fabulous inn with dazzling performances to celebrate each holiday, from Thanksgiving to the Fourth of July. But when Jim’s best friend Ted tries to lure Linda away to be his new dance partner in Hollywood, will Jim be able to salvage his latest chance at love?
Let's face it, Broadway wouldn't be Broadway if it didn't periodically reclaim the best of its old self and repackage it as new. In fact, this is often one of the things Broadway does best. And this should surprise no one, especially when it comes to musicals since it's hard to top Cole Porter, the Gershwins, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Lowe, Comden and Green, Cy Coleman, Frank Loesser or Irving Berlin. Did I say Irving Berlin? Well, the champion pop tunesmith and grand master of musical comedy is back on Broadway with a brand "new" show even though he hasn't been around for 27 years. Here's how it happened. In May 1940, Irving Berlin . . . Click here now to read the rest of this theater review.
John Glenn takes his second trip into space, and Steve Lindsey takes it all in as Glenn flies over the city of Perth for a second time, looking below for a something done just for him in Australia to mark his second space flight.
John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth, died today at age 95.
Discover the music that heals with this informational video that provides a first-hand look at Philadelphia radio station WXPN's Musicians On Call.
Find out how the program has made a difference in the lives of more than 15,000 patients and their families by bringing live music to the bedsides of patients through programs at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden and Christiana Care Health System’s Wilmington Hospital.
In response to recent findings of fentanyl related deaths by the Office of the State Medical Examiner, New Jersey State Senator Jim Holzapfel (R-10) is calling on the Senate to finally post his bill, S-1026, for a vote. His legislation doubles criminal penalties for unlawfully manufacturing or distributing fentanyl – a prescription opioid found to be up to 50 times more powerful than heroin.
In response to recent findings of fentanyl related deaths by the State Medical Examiner, Sen. Jim Holzapfel (R-10) is calling on the Senate to advance his legislation increasing penalties for illegally dispensing or manufacturing the drug. (Wikimedia Commons)
“Fentanyl deaths are increasing at a rapid pace,” said Holzapfel. “The penalties for illegally dispensing or manufacturing this deadly drug must, at the very least, match those for dealing heroin or cocaine. Unless the New Jersey Senate moves forward to enact an effective deterrent, the death toll will continue to rise.”
According to a recent study by the Office of the State Medical Examiner, Ocean County fentanyl deaths rose from 19 in 2014 to 51 in 2015. Fentanyl is odorless, colorless and nearly impossible to detect, compounding the risk for users who are unaware that heroin is now often laced with the far more powerful substance.
Unlawfully manufacturing or distributing fentanyl is currently classified as a second degree offense, while penalties for producing or dealing heroin or cocaine are more severe.
Sen. Holzapfel’s bill, S-1026, would establish unlawfully distributing, dispensing or manufacturing fentanyl as a first degree offense, doubling the maximum prison sentence from 10 to 20 years, with a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of one-third to one-half of the sentence imposed. Those convicted of unlawfully producing or dispensing less than one ounce of fentanyl would also face larger fines.
“As a former Ocean County prosecutor, I have seen the toll the heroin epidemic has taken on local families,” Senator Holzapfel added. “The massive influx of fentanyl poses a new and serious threat to our community. The Legislature shouldn’t sit back while more of our friends, family and neighbors fall victim to this extremely dangerous drug.”
The Assembly version of the bill is sponsored by fellow District 10 legislators, Assemblymen Greg McGuckin and Dave Wolfe.
Winning PYO students are Danny Bishop (third place), Daniel Cho (second place)
and Sabine Jung (first place)
Louis Scaglione, President and Music Director of the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra (PYO) organization, is proud to announce that three of their students have been named scholarship recipients of the 7TH ANNUAL PERFORMING ARTS SCHOLARSHIP COMPETITION Presented by the Rotary Club of Pottstown, PA.
The students are: Sabine Jung, 16, who plays cello and lives in West Chester, PA, Daniel Cho, 15, who plays violin and lives in Wyncote, PA and Danny Bishop, 13, who also plays cello and lives in Reading, PA. Both Jung and Cho are members of the most advanced ensemble, the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, and Bishop is a member of the Philadelphia Young Artists Orchestra, a program division of PYO.
“We are very proud that Sabine, Daniel and Danny have been recognized for their talent and will receive scholarships through their participation in this competition,” Scaglione said. “The dedication of our students to music and their motivation to do their best through practice and participation in varied performances have extended beyond their love of music to their successes as good citizens. We congratulate our students and extend our gratitude to The Rotary Club of Pottstown for recognizing the importance of the musical arts in young lives.”
The Rotary Club of Pottstown had the support of The High Street Music Company (135 E. High St., Pottstown) in seeking students from grades 8 through 12 to participate in this special talent competition, that was held on November 19, 2016, at The Hill School Center for the Arts Building in Pottstown. There were three performance categories: Broadway/Pop/Jazz Vocal, Classical/Operatic Vocal and Instrumental. The PYO students were recognized for instrumental.
The Rotary Club of Pottstown believes that student involvement in the arts provides a valuable and positive outlet for them, helping to build their confidence and encouraging creative thinking and discipline.
About the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra:
Now in its 77th year, training tomorrow’s leaders, the renowned Philadelphia Youth Orchestra organization, led by President and Music Director, Maestro Louis Scaglione, is one of the nation’s oldest and most respected community music education and youth orchestra performance programs, providing talented young musicians from across the tri-state area with exceptional musical training. Students go on to excel in many diverse fields, and it is with pride that Philadelphia Youth Orchestra notes that many members of the prestigious Philadelphia Orchestra are alumni.
The organization is comprised of six program ensembles designed to meet specific needs and experience levels of students selected through a competitive audition process.
The anchor group is the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra (PYO), conducted by President and Music Director Louis Scaglione, featuring 120 gifted instrumentalists who range in age from 14-21. Young musicians 12-18 years old are featured in PYO’s companion ensemble, the Philadelphia Young Artists Orchestra, which is led by Director and Conductor Maestra Rosalind Erwin, who is Music Director and Conductor of Drexel University Orchestra. Philadelphia Young Musicians Orchestra (PYMO), directed by Maestro Kenneth Bean, is a beginning to intermediate-level full symphonic orchestra that provides most students with their first introduction to large orchestral playing featuring students age 10-17 years old. Bravo Brass, directed by Curtis Institute Dean of Faculty and Students, Paul Bryan, is an all brass ensemble for promising middle and high-school instrumentalists. PRYSM (Philadelphia Region Youth String Music) and PRYSM Young Artists ensembles provide string large ensemble and sectional master class instruction for beginning and intermediate musicians ages 6-14. The director and conductor of PRYSM is Gloria DePasquale, cellist with The Philadelphia Orchestra, and conductor of PRYSM Young Artists is Andrea Weber. Tune Up Philly (TUP) is PYO’s engagement program, directed by Paul Smith, that focuses on creating and inspiring true community by providing children in under-resourced communities with invaluable opportunities to learn and perform a differentiated orchestral music curriculum. www.pyos.org.
Several Catholic elementary schools throughout the five-county Archdiocese of Philadelphia will celebrate the Holy Season of Advent with events including Live Nativities, choral and band concerts, fundraisers, and plays among other activities. Advent and Christmas Events Scheduled at Catholic Elementary Schools are listed below.
Saturday, December 10, 2016 Blessed Trinity Regional Catholic School: 3033 Levick Street, Philadelphia, PA 19149 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Blessed Trinity Regional Catholic School in the Mayfair Section of Philadelphia will hold its third annual live manger in front of the school convent on Levick Street. The manger will feature a live miniature cow, sheep, alpacas, goats, and a large donkey. In addition, school students will depict the scene of Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus in the manger. Father Michael Olivere, Pastor of Saint Timothy Parish, will greet those in attendance and lead the crowd in an opening prayer. Approximately 25 student ambassadors and choir members will sing Christmas carols and perform a nativity scene with school parents acting as Mary and Joseph. A newborn parishioner will play baby Jesus. Blessed Trinity Regional Catholic School was formed by the merger of Saint Timothy Parish School and Pope John Paul II Regional School in 2012.
Monday, December 12, 2016 Saint Isidore Catholic School: 603 W. Broad Street, Quakertown, PA 18951 (Bucks County) 6:30 p.m. Saint Isidore students perform each year at an annual Christmas concert event. This year’s theme is “Christmas Around the World.” Inspired by students’ family heritage, children in grades 1st through 8th will take the audience with them as they “travel around the world” and perform Christmas customs from countries such as: Thailand, Germany, Spain, Italy, and the Philippines.
Tuesday, December 13, 2016 Saint Stanislaus Parish Church: 51 Lansdale Avenue, Lansdale, PA 19446 (Montgomery County) 2:00 p.m. Mater Dei Catholic School will celebrate the meaning of Christmas, featuring its eighth grade students who will re-enact the story of the birth of our Lord during its annual Christmas Pageant, which will take place in Saint Stanislaus Parish Church. Additionally, the school choirs will lead all in attendance in singing traditional Christmas hymns. In addition to the Christmas pageant on Monday, December 19th at 7:00 p.m. in Mater Dei’s school gymnasium a Christmas Holiday Concert will be feature the “Mater Dei Catholic Bands” including: beginner band, junior band, and advanced band, The Jubilate Choir and Mater Dei Singers, as well as the beginner chimes and Chime Time Players groups. The music presented will celebrate the season.
Wednesday, December 14, 2016 Offices of Doctor Christian Subbio: Routes 252 and 3, Newtown Square, PA 19073 (Delaware County) 7:15 p.m. Assumption Academy in Strafford (Chester County) Pre-K and Kindergarten students have been invited to join in a very special act of community service this year. They will take part in a Christmas fundraiser for children suffering with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Assumption Academy students are scheduled to lead all in attendance in the singing of three Christmas songs at the fundraiser, to be held in Newtown Square, In addition, Mr. Jack McFadden, a 65 year parishioner of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Strafford and a long-time supporter of Assumption Academy will be showcased as the Crooner of the evening. Mr. McFadden has supported Assumption Academy through donations and tuition assistance in addition to offering support for special programs at the school.
Saint Andrew Catholic School and Preschool will present its annual Living Nativity on Friday, December 23rd. In its fifteenth year, the eighth grade students portray the Blessed Mother, Saint Joseph, the Angel Gabriel, the three kings, the shepherds, and the inn keepers. First grade students will serve as sheep. The show will feature a live “baby Jesus.” Each year an infant is chosen to portray the Son of God. One of the school’s original “babies” is currently an eighth grade student at Saint Andrew. Eighth grade students portray the choir of angels and lead the entire student body, grades Pre-K through eighth, in the singing of traditional Christmas hymns.
We pause today to remember the 2,403 American heroes who selflessly gave their lives at Pearl Harbor 75 years ago, on a date that will forever live in infamy. We also honor the 1,178 Americans who were wounded, and the countless others who instinctively did their duty, rushing to their posts in the midst of the chaos.
Their shared sacrifice reminds us of the great costs paid by those who came before us to secure the liberties we enjoy, and inspires us to rise to meet the new challenges that stand before us today.
America’s enemies have changed over the past 75 years. But the fact remains, as President Reagan said when first proclaiming National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, 'there can be no substitute for victory' in the pursuit of peace. Today we are the bearers of the torch of freedom these brave Americans passed on to us.
In honor of their faithfulness, and for the sake of generations to come, we will never allow that flame to be extinguished.
Donald J. Trump President-Elect of the United States
President-elect Donald J. Trump today announced his intent to nominate General James Mattis, retired U.S. Marine Corps four-star general, to serve as Secretary of the United States Department of Defense. Among the most decorated and legendary leaders in our country, Gen. Mattis has spent his life defending America in numerous theaters of war.
Gen. Mattis commanded at multiple levels during his 44 year career as an infantry Marine. Before retiring in 2013, he was the Commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), directing military operations of more than 200,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardsmen, and Marines across the Middle East. Gen. Mattis has been at the forefront of the development of our nation’s counterinsurgency tactics, and has earned accolades for his ferocity, intellect and dedication, making him one of the foremost defense experts in the world.
“I am proud to nominate General James Mattis to Secretary of Defense,” said President-elect Trump. “He is one of the most effective generals and extraordinary leaders of our time, who has committed his life to his love for our country. General Mattis is the living embodiment of the Marine Corps motto, ‘Semper Fidelis,’ always faithful, and the American people are fortunate that a man of his character and integrity will now be the civilian leader atop the Department of Defense. Under his leadership, we will rebuild our military and alliances, destroy terrorists and face our enemies head on, and make America safe again.”
“I am honored by President-elect Trump's nomination and his respect for the brave men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States,” said Gen. Mattis. “To the President-elect, our soon to be commander in chief, to our military personnel, to the talented civilians in the Department of Defense, and to the American people, I pledge the best of my abilities to ensuring a strong and secure America.”
Gen. Mattis is a native of Pullman, Washington. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Central Washington University and was commissioned a second lieutenant through ROTC in 1972.
As a lieutenant colonel, Gen. Mattis commanded an assault battalion breaching the Iraqi minefields in Operation Desert Storm. As a colonel, he commanded the 7th Marine Regiment and, on Pentagon duty, he served as the Department of Defense Executive Secretary. As a brigadier general he was the Senior Military Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense.
Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Gen. Mattis, led the Special Operation Forces against the Taliban in Afghanistan. As a major general, he commanded the First Marine Division during the initial attack and subsequent stability operations in Iraq. As a general, he served concurrently as the Commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command and as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation.
As a two-star general, Gen. Mattis led the First Marine Division from Kuwait to Baghdad in a matter of weeks in 2003, annihilating Saddam Hussein's defenses and reaching Baghdad faster and with fewer losses than anyone could have expected.
In November 2007, Gen. Mattis was promoted to four-star general. He became Commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) in 2010 and directed operations across the Middle East before retiring in 2013. Working closely with Gen. Petraeus, Gen. Mattis produced the revolutionary Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual, the definitive work on how the U.S. military should deal with Iraqi insurgents. He is co-editor of the book, Warriors & Citizens: American Views of Our Military.