ALEXANDRIA, Va., Nov. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Celebrate the holidays to a musical soundtrack as PBS offers something for everyone -- from opera to country to pop, with a variety of performance styles and locales, many with regional flare -- with several new performance and traditional holiday specials that make PBS a home for the holidays for the whole family this December.
Viewers can discover the artistic and cultural diversity of the west coast with L.A. HOLIDAY CELEBRATION 2005, airing on PBS Thursday, December 15, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET. In multi-cultural Los Angeles, holiday traditions span the globe. This music and dance special spotlights the top performances from the annual live Holiday Celebration at the Music Center. Viewers discover the real L.A., as performers of African, Asian, European, Middle Eastern and Latino backgrounds join to express the joy of the season. Elayne Boosler hosts the surprising and original celebration, a whole new take on holiday entertainment.
GREAT PERFORMANCES provides a top of the line holiday special with "Renee Fleming: Sacred Songs and Carols," Wednesday, December 21, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET on PBS. Hailed by the press as "one of the truly magnificent voices of our time," opera superstar Renee Fleming has consistently wowed critics and audiences alike with her keen musicianship, artistic versatility and, of course, a voice considered "the gold standard of soprano sound." Recorded at Germany's Mainz Cathedral, Fleming performs a lush selection of sacred Christmas music, backed by a full orchestra and boys' choir.
Immediately following GREAT PERFORMANCES, PBS celebrates the season with CHRISTMAS WITH THE MORMON TABERNACLE CHOIR FEATURING AUDRA MCDONALD AND PETER GRAVES, Wednesday, December 21, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET, with a repeat on Saturday, December 24, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET. Four-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald and veteran movie and television star Peter Graves join the renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square in an annual holiday concert that this year includes African-American spirituals and a medley of contemporary favorites. The high-definition, surround-sound production was recorded live from concerts performed during December 2004 in the state-of- the-art Conference Center in Salt Lake.
A ST. OLAF CHRISTMAS IN NORWAY, airing on PBS on Wednesday, December 21, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET, is a Christmas special featuring the choir of St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, a girls' choir from Norway and Norwegian mezzo Randi Stene in a program taped at Trondheim's Nidaros Cathedral, one of the oldest Gothic churches in the world. The program commemorates the 100th anniversary of Norway's independence from Sweden and the cultural roots of the St. Olaf College choir.
CHRISTMAS AT BELMONT (2005) premieres on PBS Thursday, December 22, 8:00- 9:00 p.m. ET, with a repeat on Sunday, December 25, 2:00-3:00 p.m. ET. Hosted by up-and-coming country music artist and Belmont graduate Josh Turner, this annual concert from Massey Concert Hall on the campus of Belmont University in Nashville is a festive musical collage that includes a Christmas repertoire ranging from traditional carols to classical masterworks to lighthearted secular songs. The "Christmas at Belmont" concert is a holiday tradition at Belmont, where the School of Music features outstanding choral and instrumental ensembles that have received high praise nationally and internationally.
LIVE FROM LINCOLN CENTER presents the perfect musical celebration to ring in the new year with "New York Philharmonic New Year's Eve Gala Concert" on Saturday, December 31, 8:00-10:00 p.m. ET, featuring the New York Philharmonic in its annual New Year's Eve gala. The festive evening of music will ring in the New Year with a program of Italian opera featuring renowned soprano Angela Gheorghiu.
In addition to the variety of family-friendly musical programs this holiday season, PBS presents, just for kids, an encore presentation of ARTHUR'S PERFECT CHRISTMAS, Saturday, December 24, 2005, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET (check local listings). The one-hour primetime special features everyone's favorite aardvark as he gives kids a spin on seasonal traditions, showing children many ways to celebrate "the holidays." Plans are underway in Elwood City 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 like in real life, perfection is hard to attain and things start to fall apart.
Also this December, the secrets to perfect home holiday entertaining are revealed in THE HOLIDAY TABLE (w.t.) (December 2005, check local listings). This new special is packed with easy and elegant ideas for holiday entertaining. Hosted by Dede Wilson of the "Seasonings" series and chef Jean- Pierre Brehier, the show features recipes for appetizers, a main course and cookies. Style experts offer ideas for simple and inexpensive centerpieces, mantel decorations, innovative place cards and more. The finale is a presentation of a gingerbread village, with tips on making, assembling and decorating a gingerbread house.
And viewers can follow travel host Rick Steves -- from the comfort and warmth of their living room -- as he takes a vivid and intimate look at how diverse European cultures celebrate Christmas in RICK STEVES' EUROPEAN CHRISTMAS (December 2005, check local listings). From flaming puddings and minced pies in jolly old England to angelic girls' choirs sporting flickering crowns of candles in Oslo; from grandpa reading the Bible high in Switzerland to the pope in a jam-packed St. Peter's Basilica for midnight mass, viewers experience Christmas as never before. Above all, the program highlights traditional European holiday music -- unfamiliar to most American ears -- performed by families and choirs in homes, chapels and cathedrals.
From Nashville to Norway and from Utah to Europe -- and even to Elmwood City -- the place for families to celebrate the holidays this December is on PBS.
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