The story behind the Portraits of White concert.


I’m Frances, a professional singer/songwriter from Newville, who almost gave up on Christmas. Fortunately, Christmas didn’t give up on me. I have encountered many people who resonate with this feeling about the holidays and I want to do something about it!

One of the big reasons I secretly dreaded Christmas was because as a young girl, I had tragically lost two siblings. Christmas called attention to their absence, and I simply didn’t know how to grieve their loss. I began to write songs about this journey — an audio journal of sorts — and years later, it turned into a Christmas album, called Portraits of White.

I wrote the title track while I was driving to Shippensburg on Route 997 (yes, I do write while I drive). The winter snow was blowing and drifting across the road and painting “portraits of white” throughout the Cumberland Valley. The playful song reflects my love for snow. Just like the dormant seeds that sprout after the blanket of winter snow has lifted, life sprung from the long, hard winter of my disenchantment with Christmas, and I found hope.

For the past three years, I have turned the album into a concert experience. With more than 30 other professional musicians on stage, including a live orchestra, singers, grand piano and guest conductor from Nashville, Tennessee, Portraits of White is becoming a holiday highlight in south central Pennsylvania. There is truly no other show like it in the area.

This year, we completed our fourth show! Each year, the audience grows. The first year we had 400, and this year we processed over 900 tickets.

Nashville based conductor, Ed Kee says, “Every year we make a special effort to ensure that the music for Portraits of White is unique and entertaining and 2017 was no exception.  We worked hard to maintain the familiar melodies and the nostalgic feel of Christmas while presenting the music in a unique way that was new and creative but still left the audience with the warm, fuzzy Christmas feeling they expect this time of year.

We had some great music lined up this year with new songs that people probably never heard as well as familiar songs like they’ve never heard them before!  From the Harry Potter-esque “Sing We Now of Christmas” to a light classical version of “Deck the Halls” and a Manheim Steamroller-styled arrangement of “Pat-a-Pan”, we had it all!

We always try to include a few surprises and this year, Nashville based, award-winning guitarist, Tom Hemby surprised everyone with his incredible rendition of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” on harmonica.

You could hear the shock of the audience when snow began to fall inside the building as Frances sang a newly created song, “I Love Snow” written just for the show!

We were especially excited about several delightful new Christmas songs in the mix this year. It was a great combination of old and new that was fun, beautiful to listen to and even visually stimulating – all in one! You won’t see anything else like it  – anywhere!  If you missed this year, stay tuned for next year! You won’t want to miss Harrisburg’s Holiday Hit!”

I love offering hope over the holidays by sharing stories, humor and great music. This concert contains all of those elements and more! We’d love to have you and your family make Portraits of White a family tradition.

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