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An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil—he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you—and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

First People - The Legends. Cherokee Legend of Two Wolves. November 16, 2004. [accessed April 7, 2012].

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Invasive Notes: Mt Rainier, Maryland, Faces Wickedly Inconvenient Invasive Problem

Invasive Notes: Mt Rainier, Maryland, Faces Wickedly Inconvenient Invasive Problem

Friday, December 07, 2012

Peace Cross Monument, Bladensburg & Upper Marlboro Memorial to Veterans of World War I from Prince George's County

Copied from
November 1973 
Vol – 1, No – 9


               Early in the years of the Great Depression, as a first grader, the real meaning of November 11th was impressed upon this writer. At 11 AM the school bell was rung and the children of all grades stood beside their desks for a minute of silence in commemoration of the Armistice which brought the Great War of 1914-1918 to an end.

               Since 1918 the United States has been engaged in three other major conflicts and Armistice Day has been changed to Veterans’ Day in honor of all those who have served. This change is understandable. It is difficult to accept, however, the latest tampering with Veterans’ Day. We refer to placing it on a Monday in October in order to provide a three-day holiday which is also becoming a gigantic sale day, in competition with the birthday of George Washington. Hopefully, without sounding too old-fashioned or sentimental, it is our feeling that it would be better to designate the October date as simply a “Business Holiday” and not designate the memory of those who served by calling it Veterans’ Day. Under the circumstances where the meaning of the holiday is almost completely lost, better no Veterans’ Day at all.

               Harking back to the Great War of 1914-1918, it is interesting to note that there are two memorials in Prince George’s County which were erected to the memory of all of the citizens of the County who lost their lives in that conflict. In 1919, just one year after the Armistice, the County erected a monument (fountain) on the Court House lawn, bordering Main Street in Upper Marlboro. In recent years the location of the monument was changed to the far left side of the lawn, set back from the street.

               The Upper Marlboro bears the following inscription:


This monument perpetuates the memory of the sons and daughters of Prince George’s County who true to the tradition of their County To the spirit of that service, tribute is here paid by a grateful people. J. M. Miller, Sc.(ulptor) W. G. Bucher, Arch.(itect) J. Arthur Emerick Co., Founders, Baltimore A.D. 1919

               On the opposite side of the monument is the following inscription:

ERECTED 1919 These men from Prince George’s County made the supreme sacrifice defending the liberty of mankind.
(The list of names follows.)

Bladensburg, Prince George's County, Maryland,
Peace Cross Monument
World War  I Memorial
picture by
John Peter Thompson,
Pri. Geo.'s Historic Preservation Commission 2012
               The most well known of the two memorials in Prince George’s, primarily because of its imposing size and its location, is the Peace Cross Monument in Bladensburg. Situated in the center of the intersection of two major arteries, Bladensburg Road (Rt. 1) and Defense Highway (Rt. 240, old Rt. 40), it has achieved landmark status over the years.
 (Until recent years it was the point of reference for the famous Bladensburg floods.)
The fund drive for the famous Peace Cross was begun early in 1919 by Mr. John Riggles of Lanham and Mrs. J.H. Norman of Hyattsville. Individual contributions ranged from 50¢ to $100, and the three local newspapers (The Washington Star, The Times and the Washington Post) as well as three department stores (Woodward & Lothrop, S. Kann & Sons and Lansburg Bros.) each contributed $100.

               Numerous benefits were held and a total of $1,523.16 was collected, but the drive began to wind down by late 1920. At this point the Snyder-Farmer Post of the American Legion agreed to assume responsibility for the completion of the Peace Cross. Snyder-Farmer Post No. 3 of the American Legion was officially recognized on July 8, 1919, the third in the State of Maryland.

               Most of the Legionnaires had been members of Hyattsville’s old Company F, Maryland National Guard, which became part of the 115th Infantry when they were mustered into federal service andsent to France. (A charter member from another part of the County was the late Rep. Lansdale G. Sasscer of Upper Marlboro.) The Post was named for Maurice B. Snyder and George W. Farmer, both of Hyattsville, who lost their lives on October 8, 1918 in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. The Peace cross was dedicated on July 12, 1925. The total cost, including the wall around the mound to protect it from the floods, was approximately $25,000. Of this amount, about $23,000 was raised and donated by Post No. 3.

               At the base of the huge cross these four words appear on each side:


On the face of the cross at the junction of the two arms is a gold star bearing the letters “U.S.” in red in the center. Encircling the Star is a blue wreath. The inscription on the bronze tablet is as follows:

1917 This Memorial Cross 1918 dedicated to the heroes of Prince George’s County, Maryland, who lost their lives in the Great War for the Liberty of the World.

Albert N. Baden                     H. Irvin Dennison                       Ernest O. Gardner
Henry H. Boswell                   Wilmer A. Disney                      Milton E. Hartmen
Herman E. Burgess                 Joseph B. Edelen                      Thomas E. Hawkins
Clarence Butler                       George W. Farmer                   Frank Holmes
Vincent G. Cooley                  Thomas N. Fenwick                 Henry Lewis Hulbert
James Cooper                        Edward H. Fletcher                  Charles E. Huntemann
Matthew Curtin                      Joseph Henry Ford                   William Lee
E. Pendleton Magruder          William Redmond                      Edward Shoults
E. Monshuer Maxwell            Frank Richmond                       Albert Smith
Clarence McCausland            Henry P. Robinson                    Maurice B. Snyder
Lee Earle Merson                   Theodore Rochester                 John A. Sprigg
Howard H. Morrow               Frank C. Rorabaugh                Pierre C. Stevens
Isaac Parker                           Robert C. Rusk                       Kenneth P. Strawn
James F. Quisenberry             John H. Seaburn                      William A. Tayman
Elmer Thomas                        Elzie Ellis Turner                      Walter E. Wilson
Benjamin E. Thompson          Herbert J. White                       Herman Winter

Thursday, December 06, 2012

On Being 'Too Arlington'

               Councilman Eric Olsen was denied a chance at being Chair of the Prince George's County Council.

               And why, one might ask? Because he is too 'Arlington' is the answer we are given.[1To be 'too Arlington' would mean attracting investments and professional workforce  such as  DRS Technologies, Inc., a Finmeccanica Company, and relocating its corporate headquarters from New Jersey to Arlington County.[2]

               To be 'too-Arlington' would be to be number 3 on a list of highest-income counties in the United States.[3] To be' too Arlington' would be a county that defense contractors, financial institutions and subject-matter-expert businesses find inviting and locate.

               To be 'too Arlington' would be to showcase a great school system such as a top rated school district as found in Arlington where communities comes together county-wide in public/private initiatives to support the greater good.

               To be 'too Arlington' would be to have a county with no murders in 2011.[4]  Why on earth would someone think that trying to have a great school system, no murders, a low crime rate, and a attractive business climate that consists of more than 'milling' one's way to prosperity' for a few is a bad thing? Let's take a look at what being 'Arlington' means.

People QuickFacts[5]
Arlington County
Prince George's County
Population, 2011 estimate   
White persons, percent, 2011 (a)    
Black persons, percent, 2011 (a)    
American Indian and Alaska Native persons, percent, 2011 (a)    
Asian persons, percent, 2011 (a)   
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander persons, percent, 2011 (a)    
Persons reporting two or more races, percent, 2011    
Persons of Hispanic or Latino Origin, percent, 2011 (b)    
White persons not Hispanic, percent, 2011    
High school graduates, percent of persons age 25+, 2006-2010   
Bachelor's degree or higher, pct of persons age 25+, 2006-2010   
Median value of owner-occupied housing units, 2006-2010   
Per capita money income in past 12 months (2010 dollars) 2006-2010   
Median household income 2006-2010   
Business QuickFacts
Arlington County
Prince George's County
Private nonfarm establishments, 2010   
Private nonfarm employment, 2010   
Private nonfarm employment, percent change, 2000-2010   
Nonemployer establishments, 2010   
Total number of firms, 2007   
Black-owned firms, percent, 2007   
American Indian- and Alaska Native-owned firms, percent, 2007   
Asian-owned firms, percent, 2007   
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander-owned firms, percent, 2007   
Hispanic-owned firms, percent, 2007   
Women-owned firms, percent, 2007   
Merchant wholesaler sales, 2007 ($1000)   
Retail sales, 2007 ($1000)   
Retail sales per capita, 2007   
Accommodation and food services sales, 2007 ($1000)   
Building permits, 2011    
Geography QuickFacts
Arlington County
Prince George's County
Land area in square miles, 2010   
Persons per square mile, 2010   
FIPS Code   

               A first quick glance at Arlington would suggest a richer and more affluent place to live and work. With a quarter of the population of Prince George's county it brings in nearly the same revenue in the food service industry.... could this be more restaurants perhaps? Arlington's population has a higher education and earns more this so bad a thing as to not want an Arlington type Council Chair?

               The 2007 GRC score indicates the level of math or reading achievement by the average student in a public school district.  Prince George's County ranks 28% in math and 39% in reading; Arlington however has a 46% rank in math and 53% in reading.[6] For some reason we are to take this as a bad thing that Arlington out performs us and therefore we would not want a chair who might enable us to compete across the river. In fact there is no economic reason to disparage Arlington. While I am the first to think that this county should lead not follow, I have to wonder about the new found tendency to lead towards the basement of economic accomplishments.  We are not going to get anywhere repeating the small minded parochial sectional practices of the past. Just because one group many years ago practices the politics of exclusion does not mean that exclusion is the best practice for moving the most upwards and forwards today. We must be better than the past; we must move forward beyond the good of the few today at the expense of the needs of the many tomorrow.

[1] Miranda S. Spivack. December 4, 2012. Environmentalist Eric Olson loses bid to head Prince George’s County Council. Washington Post. [accessed December 5, 2012]
[2] The company, recognized as one of the leading defense technology companies in the world, will be expanding its regional office to accommodate over 100 employees. The relocation and expansion costs will bring in excess of $10 million of capital investment to the region.
[6] The GRC score indicates the level of math or reading achievement by the average student in a public school district compared to student achievement in a set of 25 developed countries. The score represents the percentage of students in the international group who would have a lower level of achievement. For example, a percentile of 60 means the average student in a school district would perform better than 60% of the students in the international group.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Small Thought in a Smaller County

Mr. Olsen and the Third District of Prince George's County were denied a chance once again to chair the County Council, something it has not done for twenty years or more. It sure looks like the 3rd District is taken advantage of in the politics of the petty. Someday if the politics of sectionalism continues we should not be surprised to see District 3 seek to remove itself to a more accepting county taking the university with it. And if District 1 decided to join a succession movement it would result in a major removal of federal presence mostly ignored in the present squabbling milieu of our power elites. Who knows, District 4 might want to leave also taking the second largest city in Maryland with it, allowing the remaining cliques full play with their diminished resources.  With National Harbor already marketing itself as part of Old Town Alexandria and Northern Virginia, how long before other sections throw in the towel and give up on the small centers of smaller vision?

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Somethings Never Change in Old Prince George's

It was truly gratifying to see, in the reliable "Marlbro' Gazette," such a good account of the late exhibition. It says:
"Those who visited the Prince George's Agricultural Society in former years, must have noticed the gradual improvement in the various departments—and in every thing exhibited at its late meeting there was displayed more perfection than on any previous occasion. The contributions of the ladies were both useful and beautiful. The display of fruits, flowers and vegetables, excelled the rich collections of former years. The stock yard was well filled with superior animals, affording ample proof that the attention bestowed on raising improved animals has more than compensated for the care and expense. We cannot do justice to the fine cattle exhibited—and must content ourselves with referring to the reports of the various committees which will be published next week. A most interesting feature of this branch was the competition for the 'Calvert Premium.' It will be recollected that the liberal and zealous friend of agriculture, C. B. Calvert, last year offered, through the columns of the Gazette, to give the male calves of his celebrated Durham stock, free of charge, to such gentlemen as would oblige themselves to exhibit them for the premium of die Society, annually for three years. Eleven gentlemen availed themselves of the offer, and the committee who passed upon the calves, speak in the highest terms of their appearance. They have made an interesting report on the subject"
Truly, there is a great difference between giving away improved shorthorn calves, and selling them, as in England for the last forty years, at from fifty to one hundred guineas. It is well that something can prompt gentlemen of ample means to take measures for the improvement of their stock; but after all, the question arises, how far is it expedient, with a view even to general improvement, to give away the means of accomplishing it, unless it be to men of spirit unable to buy t
In the general way, that is not most valued which may be had, even without the trouble of asking; and when those who are able to buy wait to have a thing given to them, to whom can they expect to sell? Will not the next generation wait not only to have the best things given them, but sent them in the bargain, with a polite note entreating them to accept? By-the-by, though we have read with lively pleasure the account of the show, we have looked in vain for any indication of a desire to inquire into the laws of the State that bear upon agriculture. Whether, for instance, something might not be done to enable the planters and farmers of Prince George's, to avail themselves of their unemployed means of raising as many more sheep as would add fifty thousand dollars to the income of the county, without an additional outlay on that amount of one per cent.? Are there not streams enough in Prince George's to manufacture all the cloth that is used in the county, and might not the county supply the wool fine enough for all purposes, and the vegetables and corn, and fruit and meat for the operatives employed in its manufacture, without intrenching on their present income from other sources? Why forever persist in putting their trust so exclusively in tobacco? Suppose even that the duty was to be reduced in England, and the consumption quadrupled or quintupled: have we not in the west land enough and labor enough that can in no way be o profitably employed as in producing tobacco at four dollars a hundred? And is it not, therefore, morally certain, that the supply will forever tread closely on the heels of demand, and so keep down the price? Let, then, the planter and farmer of Maryland and Virginia study how—by what action of the government—those who manufacture iron and cloth for us abroad shall find it their interest, and be tempted to come, and, while they are manufacturing for us here, eat the cabbages, and the turnips, and potatoes, and apples, and milk, and butter, and veal, and mutton, that might be made in Prince George's, with half the labor and cost that they are made in New England. Then he would sell tons, where now he sells pounds weight of wheat and tobacco.
We see in these proceedings at Marlbro', conducted by gentlemen of acknowledged and superior intelligence, no attempt to agitate the question of the fence laws, and the inspection laws of the state—though the fencing in that very county has cost more than the land would sell for. When farmers meet, one would suppose it would be to inquire and discuss, as merchants and manufacturers do, the bearing of the laws, and policy of the government on their particular pursuits; but, alas! for instruction in all that, they surrender the privilege of thought and inquiry to old field partyleaders, whose orders they implicitly obey. The whole country may be compared to a great pyramid, the base of which, broad and strong enough to hold all the rotten materials above, is composed of the substantial farmers and planters of the country. The next tier above consists of the seekers after numerous small offices, for which they rely on the influence of the next tier above them again, composed of a smaller number, who aspire to something a little higher—state legislators, &c, who, in their turn, are the creatures of lawyers without briefs, and doctors without patients, looking for seats in Congress, rising up at last to an individual sitting in a great palace, who holds the purse-strings—who constitutes the apex of the political pyramid, and who saves, to all below him, the trouble of thinking for themselves; and in regard to whom it sometimes happens that still the wonder grows that one small head should carry all he knows. Such is the system under which the farmer and the planter allows himself to' be governed, without any attempt at individual inquiry and independent action. Societies seem to be organized, not to inquire into the political economy and condition of the landed interest, but to giveaway, for large calves and fat sheep as much money as they can collect—while those in whose names and for whose benefit they associate, continue to pay $15,000,000 a year for military establishments and  schools.

[1]  American Farmers' Magazine, Volume 1  J Nash. (1848) p. 365's&pg=PA365#v=onepage&q=farmer%20pyramis%20prince%20george's&f=false

Friday, November 30, 2012

Extraordinary Strawberries. - Dr. Bayne of Salubria, Prince George's county, Maryland

Southern Cultivator (1843-1906); May 29, 1844; 2, 11; American Periodicals pg. 87

Extraordinary Strawberries. -  Dr. Bayne recently exhibited to the Horticultural Society of Washington city, two jars of strawberries, measuring five inches in circumference, and weighing each two hundred grains; thirty-two of them filling a quart; and for flavor and beauty far surpassing any fruit ever exhibited here. Dr. Bayne has lately given great attention to the cultivation of the straberry [sic], and deserves much credit for having brought this excellent fruit to its present state of perfection,

Dr. Bayne's home, gardens and nursery will soon lie under the parking lot of a high end discount shopping mall now under construction in Prince George's County

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Several thousand turkies [sic] may be hired out in Prince George's county (1819)

               Mr. Skinner, - I beg you to encourage your fare readers, (who are under great obligation to you for your endeavors to improve their husbands and their husbands' lands,) to attend to their poulty yards, by letting them see how profitable they may be made.[1]

               I state from good authority, that several thousand turkies [sic] may be hired out in Prince George's county, during the past summer, at the rate of twenty-five cents a piece per month and found. They will be returned when their work is done, and if any are overworked or die from any other cause, they will be paid for at the rate of 75 cents each.

               Some of your distant readers, who know nothing about tobacco, may think this a quiz. But I assure you, these wages were actually offered the last summer. Now it will certainly be desirable to encourage the breeding of this useful animal, and after having helped the planter in his crop, the turkies themselves will be almost as good shewing as the tobacco, and if they are killed pretty soon in the season. they may even have a fine relish of it.    I am, Sir, yours,   A. Chewer.

               Note - The Editor of the American Farmer, being the agent through whom all communications passed between the government, and the commanding officer of the enemy's squadron in the Chesapeake during the war [of 1812], had frequent occasion to go on board, where he was often compelled either to "keep fast" or to dine on poultry and live stock plundered from his own countrymen and friends. He recollects that dining with Admiral Warren the day that a large detachment advanced upon St. Michaels, in Septmebr, he was invited to partake of some "turkey poults and oysters," -- It was the first time he had heard the term, and never having seen turkies eaten at that age, knew not what they meant. --They were the size of dunghill fowls, and no doubt thoroughly impregnated with the contents of tobacco worms. Hew declined the invitation, and dinner being removed, he took occasion to explain to them, as ou correspondent has done, their great utility in devouring tobacco worms at that season, and we have some reason to hope, that this insight into the natural history and propensities of the nice :turkey poults," had the effect of saving the flocks of many good house wives from the ravages of an an enemy, from whose rapacity nothing was too sacred or too humble to escape.

[1]   American Farmer Date: 10-15-1819; Volume: I; Issue: 29; Page: Page 231; Location: Baltimore, Maryland

John H. Bayne of Salubria: Soon to be Remembered by a Shopping Mall

Artist: Marie de Ford Keller (1860-1962)) 
Title: Richard Johns Bowie (1807-1881) Accession number: MSA SC 1545-1152

Correspondence of the Baltimore Sun.][1]
Bladensburg, March 30.
Nominations in Prince George's County.

A convention of the unconditional union men of Prince George's county, Md. was held at Bladensburg on Tuesday.  The following gentlemen were nominated to represent the county in the State Constitutional Convention; _John Bowie, Sr., Sr. John H. Bayne[2], George W. Duvall, of George, and Shelby Clark. The following resolution was adopted:

               Resolved by this Convention, That we are in favor of the immediate emancipation in this State, and compensation to loyal owners by the general government, and that we accept, as the exposition of out principles, the recent address of Messrs. Richard J. Bowie and other to the voters of Montgomery county.

[1]  Sun, published as The Sun; Date: 03-31-1864; Volume: LIV; Issue: 118; Page: [4]; Location: Baltimore, Maryland - transcribed by John Peter Thompson

County commission rules Salubria plantation can be built over, eliminating hurdle for developer:

Salubria - A Maryland Plantation Home by Pauline Collins 1992

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Pianist Terrence Wilson Wows Prince George's County - Review of the Pri. Geo.'s Philharmonic Concert Nov 17, 2012

Terrence Wilson

               Terrence Wilson and his extraordinary technique brought the audience to its feet last night in a performance with the Prince George's Philharmonic at the Bowie Center for the Performing Arts in Bowie, MD. Mr. Wilson's command of Sergei Rachmaninoff's famous Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43 (written in 1934 and premiered at the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore, Maryland, on November 7, 1934) was technically convincing and a true tribute to the great Russian composer and pianist so famous for his precision performance and interpretive art.

               Mr. Wilson's playing of the Rhapsody was an awe-inspiring, effervescent, explosion of musical mastery that was paired with the Prince George's Philharmonic's partnering perfection. The orchestra supported and highlighted Mr. Wilson's fantastic performance, and he in turn knew exactly when to allow the orchestra to shine. The bravura elements of the Rhapsody worked not only because of Mr. Wilson’s and Mr. Ellis control and understanding of the music but because they allowed the moments less technically demanding to sing out creating the emotional contrasts that make the piece work.

               Mr. Wilson returned to stun the audience with his encore performance of Arcadi Volodos' (Russian: Аркадий Аркадиевич Володось) brilliantly impossible piano transcription of the Rondo "Alla Turca" from  Mozart's Piano Sonata No. 11 in A major, K. 331 (300i). Listening to Mr. Wilson play the unbelievably difficult solo piano music was like standing in the middle of a pyrotechnical explosion. Mr. Wilson, like Rachmaninoff and Gould, is able to make inner voices sound forth while framing the melodic inventions with technically demanding rhythmic counterpoint.  
               The second concert in the Prince George's Philharmonic 2012-2013 season showcased the considerable talent and musical expertise of the orchestra's members. The percussion section was on time in sync and right there every time the music called for an exclamation point or subtle coloring that make special musical moments. The poetic themes of the night's compositions highlighted music's ability to transport a listener to a different time or place, and the percussion section was there to ensure the effect and the feelings that the composers were inducing.
               The entire program in fact seemed to be performed at a speed that allowed the various sections to demonstrate their unique technical contributions in each of the compositions that made up the November concert. The percussion and brass in the Smetana and the Rimsky-Korsakov were heroic confirming the first rate nature of the Prince George's County Philharmonic. The cellos and contrabasses were solid and artful in the Barber as well. And the woodwinds beautifully demonstrated their art throughout the evening, particularly in Barber's challenging Die natali, Op. 37; Chorale Preludes for Christmas.  Maestro Ellis greatly enhanced the performance of Barber’s little-known Die Natali with an introductory explanation of its construction - with parts of the orchestra playing several illustrative selections from the piece.
               A symphony orchestra is held together by musical cloth made from the weft and warp of the string section led by the violins and the violas. The violas were especially outstanding in Barber's Dei Natali. All of this goes to say that they are always in the bull's eye, always dancing on the head of a pin most especially audible in the quiet simple brief connective passages of any performance. After the briefest moment of indecision in a transition section early in Smetana's From Bohemia’s Woods and Fields (Z českých luhů a hájů from Ma Vlast), the string section performed is role as the very fabric of the music well focusing when directed and supporting in a musical partnership when called for displaying the art that makes the Prince George's Philharmonic the wonderful orchestra that it is.   
               Mr. Ellis laid out an interesting program for the evening which he explained in detail in the Philharmonic's electronic newsletter, Quarter Notes.[1]  All of the technical challenges came together in each of the evening's compositions. Each composition, taken as a stand-alone performance, was great. Each performance showed the artistry of the many varied contributions of the symphonic team. In short, the orchestra was in great form, exciting, proficient and masterful, but somehow the entirety of the program seemed to be risk averse, Mr. Wilson's performance excepted. It was if as though each piece was performed at the same tempo. 

               That said the evening was a special reminder of the remarkable musical organization that brings extraordinary performances to Prince George's County, Maryland. If you were not there, you missed quite an evening. Prince George's County is so fortunate to have a first rate orchestra in its midst. 

[1] readers may sign up to receive "Quarter Notes" on a regular basis by
sending an e-mail request to:

A note from the Music Director

Program building is one of the fundamental tasks for any conductor, and one of my favorite parts of being the Philharmonic's Music Director; the process of assembling our November 17 program was particularly interesting for me, so I think that a brief look back at some of the considerations I dealt with in this particular case might shed some light on the variety of factors which can influence the programming process.

I began with two "givens": first, that a concert program should consist of a minimum of 60 and a maximum of 90 minutes of music, with the ideal model being in the 75-80 minute range; and second, that the removable floorboards which cover the orchestra pit at the Bowie Center will not support the weight of a 9-foot concert grand piano. From that point, I moved on to two strongly held preferences: first, to present Terrence Wilson as soloist with the Prince George's Philharmonic at the earliest possible opportunity, and second, to perform Samuel Barber's Die Natali on a program which was scheduled fairly close to Christmas. Mr. Wilson was unavailable for either of the dates in the 2011-12 season which remained open at the time I initiated discussions with his management, and the Philharmonic had already agreed to host a winner of the Johansen International Competition for this season's opening concert. A visit to Mr. Wilson's website brought up the list of works which are currently in his performance repertoire - the Paganini Rhapsody fairly jumped off the page at me because it's been more than 20 years since the Philharmonic has performed it, and because it is the perfect sort of dramatic showpiece needed to provide a balancing contrast to the Barber, which is predominantly cool and quiet in character. These two pieces gave me the core of our program, as well as the first 40 minutes of music.

               The next work added was the Smetana - it's a piece which I have known and loved for many years, but have only performed once (with another orchestra in 1990) - it is also a piece which has never been played by the Prince George's Philharmonic. The final decision to add it to this program came during my visit to the Czech Republic's Sumava National Park in 2010; my own experience of Bohemia's woods and fields proved the decisive factor. I now had a brilliant showpiece for solo piano and orchestra, a 20th century work based on Christmas carols, and a tone poem which describes a specific geographic location, all of which added up to about 52 minutes of music; it made the most sense to me to make the showpiece the central focus of the program and balance it with another "place" piece, plus another holiday-themed piece. I gave very serious consideration to Maurice Ravel's Rhapsodie Espagnol, but it was at that point that the physical logistics of the Bowie Center came into play. Because of the weight restriction on the pit cover and the depth of the piano itself, I knew that we would lose the twelve feet of stage space closest to the audience for this particular concert; unfortunately, the Ravel calls for an exceptionally large wind and percussion section, plus a pair of harps, so I reluctantly arrived at the conclusion that the requisite orchestral forces would simply not be able to fit onto this stage. The Rimsky-Korsakov Capriccio espagnol, however, requires several fewer wind players, only one harp, and has a somewhat smaller percussion setup; like the Ravel, it is a brilliantly orchestrated piece which was inspired by the composer's own visit to Spain, and although shorter by a couple of minutes, it certainly affords a rousing finale for any concert program. This brought me to 67 minutes of music - on the short side for a complete program - and I was still casting about for a second holiday piece. After brainstorming with a couple of my colleagues, I discovered that the solution was as simple as a look through my own library, where I turned up the score to Britten's Men of Goodwill - I'd performed it years ago when I took over a Holiday Pops program from another conductor on short notice. I recalled thinking at the time that it was borderline too serious for a Pops concert; but in one of those wonderful "Eureka" moments, I realized that it was just what I needed to complete this particular program - it didn't require any instruments which weren't already required for the other four pieces, Benjamin Britten and Samuel Barber were almost exact contemporaries whose compositional styles complement each other beautifully, and at 9 minutes' duration, it brought the program right into the heart of the "sweet spot" in terms of overall duration.

Hopefully, this little tale will illustrate the multiplicity of considerations which can enter into a conductor's programming decisions, and that you will enjoy the resultant variety of music which we'll perform for you on Saturday.