Holiday Programming This December on PBS

Posted by PBS Publicity on

Celebrate the holidays to a musical soundtrack as PBS' month of holiday musical performances offers something for everyone - from opera to country to pop, with a variety of performance styles and locales, many with regional flare. In addition, the PBS KIDS® on-air and online traditional holiday offerings make PBS a home for the holidays for the whole family this December.

CHRIS ISAAK CHRISTMAS, A SOUNDSTAGE SPECIAL EVENT, airing Thursday, December 2, 2004, 10:00 p.m. ET (check local listings), features Chris and special guests Stevie Nicks, Brian McKnight and Michael Buble. Performing the quintessential Christmas collection, the program spans classic cuts from "White Christmas" to "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."

CHRISTMAS WITH THE MORMON TABERNACLE CHOIR, featuring Frederica von Stade and Bryn Terfel, premieres on PBS Wednesday, December 22, 2004, 9:00 p.m. ET, with a repeat on Friday, December 24, 2004, 9:00 p.m. ET. America's beloved mezzo-soprano and Europe's pre-eminent baritone join the renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square in a one-hour special that includes sacred and secular holiday favorites, as well as carols from around the world. The concert also features Terfel reading the Christmas story from Luke accompanied by the choir and orchestra.

Immediately following the premiere of CHRISTMAS WITH THE MORMON TABERNACLE CHOIR, PBS travels to the heart of America's "Music City" - Nashville, Tennessee - for CHRISTMAS AT BELMONT. With Christmas carols echoing from its carillon tower and the historic Belmont Mansion decked in holiday d�cor, concert-goers inside Massey Concert Hall witness a concert so grand that they're outnumbered at times by performers, who perform from the balconies and in the aisles as well as on stage. Country recording legend Brenda Lee - known for "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" - hosts CHRISTMAS AT BELMONT, airing on PBS Wednesday, December 22, 2004, 9:00 p.m. ET. The joyful repertoire ranges from familiar traditional carols to classical masterworks to syncopated rhythm pieces to light-hearted secular songs.

The festivities continue with CHRISTMAS AT BAYLOR, airing on PBS Wednesday, December 22, 2004, 10:00 p.m. ET. The program features the performing ensembles of Baylor University in a celebration of the holiday. This one-hour special highlights some of America's favorite Christmas carols, including "Hear the Bells on Christmas Day," "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming," "What Child Is This" and "O Holy Night."

On Christmas Eve, PBS presents a special repeat of CHRISTMAS WITH THE MORMON TABERNACLE CHOIR at 9:00 p.m. ET, followed by the patriotic holiday gala, ON STAGE AT THE KENNEDY CENTER "A Holiday Concert for the Troops with Marvin Hamlisch." Principal Pops Conductor Marvin Hamlisch and the National Symphony Orchestra honor U.S. service members stationed around the world with a joyous and festive musical concert from Washington, DC, airing on PBS Friday, December 24, 2004, 10:00 p.m. ET. The concert was taped on December 11, 2004, before an audience that included service personnel and their families at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. In addition to the National Symphony Orchestra Pops, this one-hour gala concert features performances by renowned soprano Harolyn Blackwell, the Children's Chorus of Washington, pop and jazz singer Cyndi Lauper, the Master Chorale of Washington, country music star Kathy Mattea, tenor J. Mark McVey, the U.S. Army Brass Quintet and the U.S. Army Soldiers Chorus, with Kevin Glavin as Santa Claus.

Viewers can spend the holidays in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with Rick Sebak and his crew as they capture a variety of worship services, community events, parties and seasonal attractions in celebration of Hanukah, Ramadan, Christmas and Kwanzaa. The encore presentation of HAPPY HOLIDAYS IN PITTSBURGH (December 2004, check local listings) is a heartwarming and sometimes wacky take on the customs, traditions and happenings that distinguish the holidays around Pittsburgh.

On the west coast, viewers discover the artistic and cultural diversity of Southern California's holiday celebrations with L.A. HOLIDAY CELEBRATION 2004 (December 2004, check local listings), a one-hour highlight version of the 44th Annual Los Angeles County Holiday Celebration, featuring segments filmed in the area's diverse neighborhoods.

Narrated by Dick Cavett, ONCE UPON A SLEIGH RIDE (December 2004, check local listings) chronicles the life and work of orchestral composer Leroy Anderson (1908-1975) through interviews with colleagues, family members and others who knew him, as well as archival and contemporary performances of his works, including "Sleigh Ride," "The Syncopated Clock," "Blue Tango" and "The Typewriter."

SING WE NOW OF CHRISTMAS: A FESTIVAL OF CAROLS (December 2004, check local listings) features the renowned adult choir of the Moline, Illinois, First Presbyterian Church performing by candlelight in a recently restored 100-year old Victorian Sanctuary, an architectural and acoustical masterpiece. Accompanied by a symphony orchestra, the choir performs popular Christmas music, both secular and sacred, including holiday favorites "Joy to the World," "Away in a Manger," "The First Noel" and "Silent Night." Special guests include the nationally recognized piano duo Howard Helvey and Richard Steinbach.

PBS' selection of family-oriented programs continues when everyone's favorite aardvark gives kids a new spin on seasonal traditions in a one-hour primetime special that shows children many ways to celebrate the holidays. In ARTHUR'S PERFECT CHRISTMAS (December 2004, check local listings), plans are underway for the best holidays ever as Arthur, D.W., their family and friends make preparations for perfect gifts, perfect parties and perfect family traditions for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and even "Baxter Day" (Buster and his mom's special celebration). The only problem is, just as in real life, perfection is hard to attain and things start to fall apart.

CHANUKAH ON PLANET MATZAH BALL (December 2004, check local listings) features a family from the Planet Matzah Ball who discovers their Jewish roots and rockets down to Cleveland, Ohio, to find out all about Chanukah. The music-driven special takes the family tumbling through space to learn the 2,000-year-old story of Judah Maccabbee recapturing the Temple in Jerusalem and lighting the one-day supply of oil that miraculously burned for eight days. Jewish children celebrate the holiday by spinning dreidels, eating latkes, singing Chanukah songs and lighting one new candle in the menorah each night until the final night, when eight candles burn together, commemorating the event.

In addition to these specials, several PBS KIDS® programs will present winter and holiday theme weeks or episodes in December, including: ADVENTURES FROM THE BOOK OF VIRTUES (a two-part Christmas special, December 2004, check local listings); CAILLOU (two winter-themed episodes with "Winter!" (12/23) and "It's Cold Outside! Brrr!" (12/24), check local listings); JAY JAY THE JET PLANE (a half-hour Christmas special, December 2004, check local listings); TELETUBBIES (Christmas-themed week from 12/20-12/24 including "The Christmas Tree," "Carol Singing," "Crackers," "Making Christmas Cards" and "Snowy Day," and "Teletubbies in the Snow" winter theme week 12/27-12/31, check local listings). Also in December, the winter-themed "Snow Biz" will air on ARTHUR as part of PBS KIDS GO! (12/15, check local listings).

Holiday and winter-themed activities, including e-cards, games, and crafts, will be featured on pbskids.org and pbskidsgo.org during the month of December. On December 8, PBS Parents (pbsparents.org) will launch a winter holiday page that includes links to PBS Kids holiday and winter-themed activities, as well as a schedule of seasonal and holiday programming that site visitors can localize to view air dates and times for their local PBS stations. And to help parents tame the "gimmes" during the seasonal blitz of toy advertising, there will be an article with tips and strategies for reducing kids' susceptibility to advertisers.

GREAT PERFORMANCES continues its time-honored holiday tradition with the 21st annual New Year's Day visit to Vienna with host Walter Cronkite. "From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 2005" airs on PBS Saturday, January 1, 2005, 2:30 p.m. ET with a repeat airing at 8:00 p.m. ET. This year, Lorin Maazel returns as guest conductor to lead the renowned Vienna Philharmonic in a program of delightful Strauss Family waltzes from the majestic Musikverein; and international ballet star Vladimir Malakhov joins the Vienna State Opera Ballet as soloist and choreographer in performances from two of Vienna's architectural splendors, the Belvedere and Coburg palaces. In a special addition to this year's program, GREAT PERFORMANCES presents Vienna's delectable treats and idyllic retreats: the creation of Viennese apfelstrudel from apple blossom to serving table, and a tour of the city's famous woodland, set to Johann Strauss II's "Tales From the Vienna Woods."


# # #

Kim Tavares, PBS Media Relations, 703/739-5011; ktavares@pbs.org