Post Content
Alexandria Symphony presents ‘The Nutcracker’ (courtesy photo)

The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra’s holiday program promises to bring an eclectic selection this weekend.

ASO will take the stage on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center, followed by a 3 p.m. performance at the George Washington National Masonic Memorial.

The program includes selections from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker,” Duke Ellington’s “The Nutcracker Suite” and Mariah Carey’s version of “All I Want for Christmas is You.”

“Our special guests include both BalletNova creating some Nutcracker magic on the lip of our stage on Saturday, and the fabulous non-binary soprano of Salvadoran heritage, Helena Colindres, a recent graduate of the Peabody Institute and a rising superstar,” said ASO Music Director James Ross.

Dancers with the BalletNOVA Center For Dance will perform pieces from The Nutcracker suit and soprano Helena Colindres will sing a Swedish carol, a selection from Handel’s Messiah and more.

“Helena can, does, and will sing anything! Beloved Lester Green will be our narrator for The Night Before Christmas in a new mashup with a theme from Harry Potter,” Ross said.

Tickets run $5 for kids 18 and under and up to $90 for adults.

4 Comments
Garden portion of The Rectory set up as music venue during the pandemic in 2020. (via Classical Movements)

At the height of the pandemic, Classical Movements held weekly open-air concerts with world-renowned musicians in their “Secret Garden” in Old Town North.

Business is slowly returning to its hectic pace for Neeta Helms, the organization’s founder, as she and her staff organize trips around the world for some of the biggest classical musical acts in the business. The touring company has worked in 147 countries, and produces more than 50 annual musical tours, as well as hundreds of concerts.

“For us, this garden became the sign of spring and hope,” Helms said.

While the weekly concerts are no more, there are still monthly performances at the Secret Garden.

“It was never about the money,” Helms said of the Secret Garden concerts. “For 50 distanced people at $40 a person, that’s $2,000, while we have the concert master of the Philadelphia Orchestra, concert mistress of the National Symphony Orchestra, as well as the principal and second violin, the principal viola and principal clarinet play with us. If musicians of that caliber, who play in the greatest concert halls in the world and the Kennedy Center and are back playing every week to play in our garden, that should tell everybody something.”

Classical Movements, in June 2020, was one of the first venues in the region to open their doors for live performances. Between June and December 2020 alone, they hosted 40 socially distanced one-hour-long concerts, with a few noise complaints from neighbors.

“The first violinist in the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, before he played, said that he hadn’t played to a live audience for 15 months,” said Johan van Zyl, the company’s senior vice president. “As he was saying that, I was sitting on the side of the stage in the back and I could see his lip quivering. He was so emotional about the fact that he was playing to a live audience. That’s the moment for me where I thought we’re doing the right thing.”

The venue has also become a popular spot for weddings.

“What shocked us about Covid was that the music was singled out as one of the most dangerous things to do,” Helms said. “Choirs were identified right from the get-go, and performing music became this lethal activity. For us, we had 40-or-so tours all over the world that we had to cancel. We had to try to figure out how much money we could get back and give to our clients, which is a huge amount of money. Really what was at stake was millions of dollars.”

Helms said that the travel industry is at the whim and fancy of plagues, weather and international relations.

“We were affected by SARS and had to put tours on hold in China, or there was MERS, or there was a volcano erupting in Chile and we had to bus people 18 hours to get to a performance in Argentina,” she said. “On September 11, 2001, we had the New York Philharmonic itself flying back home from a residency in Braunschweig, Germany, and all flights were grounded until we could get everyone home four days later.”

Bucking trends musically is commonplace for Helms, whose first touring concert in Moscow’s Red Square in 1992, right after the fall of the Soviet Union, was attended by 100,000 people. The event was conducted by Russian defector Mstislav Rostropovich and featured the National Symphony Orchestra and the Choral Arts Society of Washington.

“For us in Red Square (in 1992), what was marvelous was being mobbed by people,” she said. “It was like touring with Elvis or the Beatles, because anyone in this Russia who met us gave us flowers and notes, and thanked us for the miracle of actually having music on Red Square, as opposed to demonstrations with tanks. By presenting music, it was a surprisingly revolutionary event, in hindsight.”

0 Comments

(Updated 4:20 p.m.) Del Ray will soon have its own underground record shop, as Crooked Beat Records expects to reopen in a basement on Mount Vernon Avenue in February.

Owner Bill Daly has been looking for a new location for his new and used record store for more than a year, and found it in the basement of the same building that houses Cheesetique at 2411 Mount Vernon Avenue. The building is also home to to the Del Ray School Of Music and Piece Out Del Ray.

“It’s a perfect location,” Daly told ALXnow. “To afford something, this was our only option. It’s getting too expensive to operate on the street level. Everywhere we looked the rents were triple what we’re paying now.”

Residential redevelopment is forcing the record shop to close by net summer, but Daly hopes to have the final touches on the lease and the interior renovation finalized by early 2023.

“It’s about 400 square feet bigger, and I think it’s going to be better,” Daly said.

Daly said that the new shop will be fully up and running for Record Store Day on April 15.

“That means that we’ve got to have the store set up by late February to early March,” he said.

Daly founded the store in 1997 in Raleigh, North Carolina, and moved it to Adams Morgan in Washington, D.C. in 2004. He moved the store to Alexandria in 2016.

0 Comments
Chris Isaak (image via The Birchmere)

The “Wicked Game” and “Jesse’s Girl” stars from the 1980’s are headlining at the Birchmere as the Arlandria music venue winds down its 2022 calendar.

Toward the end of November, Chris Issak is bringing a Christmas Tour to the Birchmere. The $115 show is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 28, and features music from a Christmas album that came out earlier this month.

That Thursday, Rick Springfield is also coming to The Birchmere for a $115 show called “Stripped Down”, described by the venue’s website as an “intimate solo performance of music and storytelling.

Transgressive cult film director John Waters is also returning to The Birchmere for his annual Christmas show: A John Waters Christmas.

Other upcoming shows in November include:

And then, in December:

2 Comment

It was crisp, clear on Sunday in Del Ray — perfect for the annual Del Ray Halloween Parade.

Thousands of kids and adults marched in costumes for the event, including members of the Alexandria City Council and the Alexandria City High School ‘Zombie Band’.

It’s Visit Del Ray’s 26th year hosting the fun event, which it started at Mount Vernon Avenue and E. Bellefonte Avenue and ended with live music and prizes at the Mount Vernon Recreation Center athletic fields.

4 Comments
U.S. Navy Mess Attendant 2nd Class Doris Miller (image via National Archives)

A free concert later this month features a new composition from a local professor honoring the first Black recipient of the Navy Cross.

The Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) Alexandria Band is scheduled to hold a free concert on Thursday, Oct. 27 at 8 p.m. in The Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall (4915 East Campus Drive). The main feature of the new concert is a new work by composer and George Mason University instructor Mark Camphouse called “Valor and Remembrance.” The composition honors U.S. Navy Mess Attendant 2nd Class Doris Miller.

Miller was awarded the Navy Cross for heroism aboard the USS West Virginia during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Miller, who worked in the ship’s mess, manned an anti-aircraft gun on the top deck of the ship during the attack and — with a weapon he’s been trained on using only moments prior — shot down two Japanese airplanes attacking the ship.

“We are thrilled that composer Mark Camphouse will be joining us for the premiere of his newest work,” Lisa Eckstein, associate professor of music and band director, said in a release. “This is the final piece of his trilogy which celebrates the courageous contributions of African Americans. The other two compositions honor Civil Rights Heroine Rosa Parks and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

2 Comments
Blue Oyster Cult tour announcement (image via Blue Oyster Cult/Facebook)

Blue Oyster Cult, a rock band best known for Don’t Fear the Reaper and possibly an SNL parody, is making a return to The Birchmere (3701 Mt Vernon Avenue) next month.

The other major star in September is Modern English, a post-punk band formed in the 1980s.

And then in September:

The full calendar is available at The Birchmere’s website.

Image via Blue Oyster Cult/Facebook

0 Comments

Alexandria’s Office of the Arts has announced new funding aimed at helping to revitalize community programs in the West End, Arlandria and Old Town.

The Creative Neighborhood Grant Program (CNGP), funded by the City of Alexandria and a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts, launched in April with $60,000 to distribute.

Ultimately, the release said the program is granting $61,143 to 13 organizations, which in turn will hire and engage over 200 artists with 38 different programs.

“The Office of the Arts is truly pleased that the Creative Neighborhood Grant Program awardees will be able to help energize three neighborhoods in Alexandria including the West End, Arlandria, and Old Town by hosting unique and engaging community programs,” the city said in a release.”All Alexandria city residents are cordially invited to participate in the upcoming Creative Neighborhood programs and to take part in this historic initiative which will help create vibrant creative communities in our city.”

In Arlandria, two of the programs receiving funding are a “MakersFEST” — a free art-making day with local artists in October — and a concert/”instrument petting zoo” hosted by the Alexandria Citizens Band.

In the West End, the grant funding will go to benefit an Ethiopian Film and Art Festival later this month, a Tango Concert series in September, and more.

Another Ethiopian arts event is planned for Old Town at the Durant Art Center (1605 Cameron Street) in October. The “Made in Ethiopia DMV Trade Fair” event spotlights traditional music and dance.

The link to the press release was broken at time of writing, so the full release is posted below the jump: Read More

0 Comments

With fireworks, cupcakes and music, Alexandria celebrated its 273rd birthday on Sunday, July 10.

Thousands were in attendance for the free party, which also celebrates America’s birthday and was supposed to be held on Saturday (July 9), but was held off due to rain. What resulted was a less crowded event than years past — with performances by Town Crier Ben Fiore-Walker, Poet Laureate Zeina Azzam, and the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra (ASO).

During the fireworks show over the Potomac River, the symphony played the “Superman theme” by John Williams instead of the traditional “1812 Overture” by Tchaikovsky. ASO Conductor Jim Ross said that it would not be fitting to play music by a Russian composer commemorating Alexandria’s and the country’s birthdays.

5 Comments

Music, local food and beer is on tap this weekend for the Portside in Old Town Summer Festival at Waterfront Park.

This year, the event is merging with the 44th Annual Alexandria Jazz Fest, and the free events will be held on Friday (June 17) from 6 to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 1 to 9 p.m.

The Portside Festival is organized by Visit Alexandria and the City’s Office of the Arts.

“New this year, the event merges with the  on Friday evening to showcase jazz performances and readings by Alexandria poets,” Visit Alexandria said on its website. “Saturday the festival continues with an eclectic musical lineup, local food, hands-on art and history activities and more.”

Food will be provided by Borinquen Lunch Box, Chalkboard Wings & BBQ, Dolci Gelati and The Italian Place.

Additionally, Port City Brewing Company will provide these beers:

  • Optimal Wit (Belgian-style white ale, 4.9%)
  • Beach Drive (Golden ale, 4%)
  • Downright Pilsner (Bohemian style pilsner)
  • 4.8%; Monumental (IPA, India pale ale, 6.7%)

Friday schedule

  • 6 to 6:15 p.m. — Opening remarks
  • 6:15 to 7 p.m. — Cubano Groove
  • 7:15 to 8 p.m. — VERONNEAU
  • 8:15 to 9 p.m. — Eric Byrd Trio

There will be poetry read between sets by:

  • Zeina Azzam, Alexandria’s Poet Laureate
  • KaNikki Jakarta, Alexandria’s former Poet Laureate
  • An up-and-coming Alexandria youth poet

Saturday Schedule

  • 1 to 1:15 p.m. — Opening remarks
  • 1:15 to 2 p.m. — Eli Lev (folk rock)
  • 2:30 to 3:15 p.m. — La Unica (Irish Latin rock)
  • 3:45 to 4:30 p.m. — ilyAIMY (folk rock)
  • 5 to 5:45 p.m. — Rob Curto’s Forró for All (Brazilian forró)
  • 6:15 to 7:15 p.m. — Ras Band (Ethiopian reggae, jazz and funk)
  • 7:45 to 9:00 p.m. — Pablo Antonio y La Firma (salsa, merengue and bachata)

Via Facebook

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list