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 others who have felt this way too 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 just completed our fourth show! Each year, the audience grows. The first year we had 400, and this year (2017) 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 our 2017 show 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 is new and creative but still leaves you with the warm, fuzzy Christmas feeling you expect this time of year. Many concert attendees said it was the best of all four years so far.
We had some great music lined up this year with new songs that people had 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. Nashville based, Dove award winner, guitarist Tom Hemby blew everyone away with his amazing rendition of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” on his harmonica.
We had several delightful new Christmas songs in the mix this year and they too were a hit – including “I Love Snow” – complete with falling snow!
It’s always a great combination of old and new that is 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’s show, stay tuned for more information about next year and come see 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 this show a family tradition.