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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].

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk Sponsors Bill Requiring Healthy Drink Choices on Children’s Menus

For Immediate Release
February 26, 2014


Contact: Michelle García, Chief of Staff
O: 410.841.8302

Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk Sponsors Bill

Requiring Healthy Drink Choices on Children’s Menus

Annapolis, MD.
 - To assist families in making healthier food selections when dining away from home, Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk (D, District 21, Prince George’s and Anne Arundel Counties) is sponsoring House Bill 1255 that will require food service facilities to offer only bottled water or milk as the beverage included in the price of a child’s meal. Other beverages will still be available at an extra cost.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that over the past three decades, childhood obesity has more than tripled. During that same period, consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages by children has increased, to the point that they now consume more than twice as much soda per day than milk. Today, nearly one-third of our young people are either overweight or obese, making them high risks for serious health problems later in life. However, data shows that in those communities that have implemented policies to prevent obesity, the rate of obesity is declining dramatically.

The United States Department of Agriculture, recognizing the public health implications of childhood obesity, has updated their standards to require that snacks and drinks sold in schools are healthy. This legislation will continue in that spirit.

The bill is scheduled to be heard by the House Economic Matters Committee on March 7. The text of the bill is available on the General Assembly Web site, at Just type in “HB1255,” in the “Find Legislation” box. The Delegate welcomes your opinions, in support or opposition of this bill. Please file them electronically at You may also call (410) 841-3502 for more information.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Prince George's County High School Musicians Shine in Concert with the Philharmonic, Saturday February 15, 2014

            On February 15, 2014, the Prince George's Philharmonic offered up yet another musical evening. The brilliant performance by the orchestra and its Prince George's County student collaborators was artfully set off by the moonlit snowy landscapes that glittered in the cold of the night outside.   The Philharmonic offers so much to the community; its "side-by-side" concerts which include a dozen or more of the best student musicians in the County, is but one of the many exciting reasons to attend.

            The evening's performance consisted of musical works by two German composers, Brahms and Humperdinck, and two Russian composers, Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov. The pairing of the two Germanic composers with the two Russians offered the audience an opportunity to hear the difference between the two 19th-century compositional styles.  In the capable hands of Maestro Charles Ellis, Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture, and Humperdinck’s suite from his opera, Hansel and Gretel, permitted the audience to hear the solid grandeur and rich, sometimes even lush, musical textures of German Romanticism.  In contrast, Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme and Rimsky-Korsakov's suite from his opera, Le Coq 'd'Or, brilliantly highlighted the dance of instrumental colors built on a musical framework that allowed "light" to filter in amongst the layers of sound - a filigree of timbres and textures.

            The Prince George's Philharmonic began its February concert with music by Brahms in a collaborative performance with some of the best musicians in the County high schools. Each year the Philharmonic invites student musicians to perform a piece together with the regular members of the orchestra. The Academic Overture of Brahms was written to commemorate his receiving of an honorary in music however late in life. The use of college drinking songs as a source of thematic material perhaps went unnoticed by the parents in the audience.

            The students, listed below, fit right in with their orchestral collaborators. The enlarged orchestra enhanced the lush layers of music that reached out and wrapped the listeners in the warmth of Germanic Romanticism. Right at the beginning of the overture, there was the briefest hint of entrance attacks that were not on target, but almost immediately this passed and the Brahms marched on to a rousing and grand finale. The string section with its student partners produced a rich, chocolately sound appropriate for the holiday just past. The percussion and brass sections kept the quick and lively pace moving, enticing the listener to conduct from his seat enthusiastically. The woodwinds provided the tonal filling between the musical layers that hold the composition together thereby creating a memorable performance of which the students and Prince George's  County should be proud.

Kayla Carlyle - Suitland High School 
Tesiya Franklin – Eleanor Roosevelt High School
 Victor Baules - Eleanor Roosevelt High School

Camille Jones  - Bowie High School

David Dogan – Oxon Hill High School

Vijay Golla – Eleanor Roosevelt High School
Perry Gordon – Eleanor Roosevelt High School
Justin Hosten – Bowie High School
Cecilia Staggers – Eleanor Roosevelt High School

Rosetta Irons – Eleanor Roosevelt High School
Anthony Thornton – Suitland High School
Bree Johnson – Oxon Hill High School

Stephan Gardner – Bowie High School
Andrew Skinner – Eleanor Roosevelt High School
Ucee Nwachul - Suitland High School


Jan Knutson – Eleanor Roosevelt High School

Janae DuBois - Suitland High School
Justine Josey - Oxon Hill High School
Josiahh Herrerz – Oxon Hill High School
Krysta Hyppolite - Bowie High School

Wesley Collins-Arms – Eleanor Roosevelt High School
Gene Alestock - Northwestern High School

Xavier Eubanks – Suitland High School

Matthew Spooner -  Eleanor Roosevelt High School

            The second composition on the program was Tchaikovsky's  Variations on a Rococo Theme, in effect a concerto for solo cello. Michael Mermagen, an associate professor of cello and chamber music at The Catholic University of America, demonstrated his mastery of the instrument, his love of the music, and his artistic understanding of the seemingly sometimes simple but always complex composition that is Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations. The Philharmonic was a perfect partner for the evening's partnership, for it always provided a musical framework in which the guest artist could soar. A curious phenomenon of time distortion that can arise when a performance is at the highest level appeared for me in the penultimate variation and stretched into the beginning of the final variation. 

            After the break, the orchestra settled in to a performance of the famous music from the opera, Hansel and Gretel. The well-known prayer for 14 angels again played with my sense of time as I began to be transported into musical realms - losing all track of time. But, when the angels should have appeared at the beginning of the third section of the Humperdinck suite, something went amiss in the strings. The rich, creamy texture that I’ve come to expect in this concert season abruptly disappeared, and the, shall we say, old strings, reappeared, replete with intonation and occasional missed attacks. I should be quick to note that in general this was not immediately apparent to the greater number of the audience who were distinctly moved by the performance as a whole.

            The final suite by the great Russian composer and naval captain, Rimsky-Korsakov, demonstrated Maestro Ellis’ ability to bring out the textures, timbres and colors of the individual sections and instruments in the orchestra while at the same time keeping the whole of the composition together. The eerie "Orientalism" and exotic sounds of a mythical east shimmered throughout the performance. The performance of the Golden Cockerel suite demonstrated once again Mr. Ellis’ artistic mastery and his productive partnership with the masterfully musical members of the orchestra.  Rimsky-Korsakov’s impact on symphonic orchestration shone forth in this late Romantic composition. One could hear the lessons learned from Rimsky-Korsakov by 20th-century film score composers. By the final section of the Rimsky-Korsakov suite the intonation and attack challenges had been subsumed by the power of late compositional Romanticism.

            All I can say is you should've been here; you should've heard the student performance; you should be making plans to attend the next concert in March.  An all-Mozart affair, it will be performed at Suitland High School at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 22, and again at the Bowie Center for the Performing Arts at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 23.   Mr. Ellis, the Philharmonic, and the Suitland High School Chorus will be joined by four alumni soloists in a performance of Mozart's Requiem. And, as a bonus, the concert will start with Mozart's Symphony No. 29 in A Major.



Thursday, February 13, 2014

Concert this Sat. Feb 15. 2014 - QuarterNotes News and Events of the Prince George's Philharmonic February 2014

News and Events of the Prince George's Philharmonic
February 2014 


The third concert of the 2013-2014 season of the Prince George's Philharmonic is set to take place Saturday, February 15, 2014 at 8:00 pm at The Bowie Center for the Performing Arts, Bowie Maryland. Click here for directions.

The first half of the program will feature our annual side-by-side performance with talented students from Prince George's County Public Schools. The students will play along side Philharmonic members in a performance of the Academic Festival Overture by Johannes Brahms. Also featured on the program is cellist Michael Mermagen. He will join the Philharmonic in a performance of Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme. The second half of the program will feature selections from operas by Humperdinck (Hansel and Gretel) and by Rimsky-Korsakov (The Golden Cockerel).

Join us for a "meet-and-greet" with cellist Michael Mermagen and maestro Ellis after the concert.

The concert will last approximately one hour and forty-five minutes and have one fifteen minute intermission after the Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations.

Admission is FREE for those 18 years old and younger (ticket required). Tickets for general admission are $20 and $18 for seniors (62 and over). Tickets will be available at the door (cash or check only) on the night of the concert.

Season subscriptions are now available at a prorated price. Buy a subscription and save thirty percent or more off of single ticket prices. Be sure to choose tickets for either the Saturday, March 22, 2014 (8 pm) concert at Suitland High School OR the Sunday, March 23, 2014 (3 pm) concert at the Bowie Center.


Brenton Benfield
Executive Director

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Stratford Estates, Upper Marlboro, MD - Open Letter to Local Politicals

Published with permission of an owner of property bordering on ,surrounded and impacted by Stratford development. The open letter was sent to individual Council men and women as well as to State representatives (Senators and Delegates)

Please note earlier blog: Wednesday, January 29, 2014  

Stratford Estates, Old Crain Highway, Upper Marlborough Development Tries to Erase History

Dear local politicians:

I am writing you due to grave concern with proceedings in the Prince George's County Council.  I copied you on a letter I wrote to Councilman Davis about two weeks ago, requesting information on an upcoming hearing.  Those of us living in or near Stratford Estates development received a notice of a hearing that talks about arguments and "parties" but gives no information regarding the issues or parties.  Calls and notes to Councilman Davis's office have produced no results.  Those of us who live in or near the development are seriously concerned that we will be going into a hearing without important information--a hearing that affects our own properties to a great degree.  I do not know what influence you have with the Council, but I am one of your constituents, and my property(and my concerned neighbors' properties) is in your district, so my neighbors and I would appreciate whatever help you can provide in this matter.

Some history on this matter may be helpful.  The Stratford Estates development was initially conceived and approved of as a luxury estate development.  After building four such houses, development ceased for a time, and a new developer purchased the property. The new developer's homes were completely different than the original design, much less in keeping with the historic nature of the neighborhood, and greatly devaluing the existing homeowners' properties who had bought into the development with the understanding of the original plan.  No one attempted to stop this new development, but one thing of great importance to those living in Stratford Estates and surrounding properties was that the four front lots of the community, deemed to be subject to rules regarding properties near historic homes, be built in keeping with those rules.

A hearing was held by the Historic Preservation Committee, with much input from all concerned individuals. Their recommmendation, which was very moderate, was forwarded to the Planning Board.  Another hearing was held, again with a good deal of input, and a decision was made by the Planning Board.  The Board decided that the lots indeed fit and should be subject to the Historic guidelines.  This decision made good sense, given that it would be hard to find an area more historic than the Old Crain Highway, on which Startford Estates is located.  Anyone driving along Old Crain can enjoy many historic properties, the likes of which are rare in Prince George's County in this day.

In January, residents of Stratford Estates, and surrounding properties received a notice that there would be a hearing regarding Stratford Estates development on the 24th of February. Mention was made of parties and arguments, and that Councilman Davis had requested this hearing. But no information was given as to who the parties were, what the issues were, or why Councilman Davis had requested this hearing.  Requests for information on this topic, via letters and calls to Councilman Davis's office have been met with no response or information.  

My neighbors and I would appreciate you, as our state representative, to look into this matter and let us know what can be done to ensure a fair process takes place.  Old Crain Highway is an area any Maryland official should be concerned with as one of the few historic areas left in this area.  Also any process that has grave consequences for Maryland homeowners is not one that should be treated lightly, or one shrouded in mystery.  Please help to ensure that this important process is a fair one.

Thank you for your time and response.


Bilie Hinnefeld, J.D., Ph. D.

Owner of property bordering on ,surrounded and impacted by Stratford development