Spring gets into full swing in Alexandria this month, and there are dozens of events around the city to get you out of the house.
April events in Alexandria:
- Outdoor cello concert: Listen to cellist Amit Peled at The Rectory in Old Town on April 7 (Thursday), from 5 to 6 p.m. and 6:30 to 7 p.m. Tickets cost $45 apiece for adults and $25 for children
- Book signing at Alexandria Visitor Center: Meet John Adam Wasowicz, the Author of the Old Town Mysteries, Daingerfield Island, Jones Point, Slaters Land and Roaches Run. Two book signings will be held on April9 and 10 (Saturday and Sunday) from 10:00 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Easter Egg Hunt with the Old Town Business Association: On April 9 (Saturday) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Historic event at Carlyle House: On April 9 (Saturday), learn from costumed interpreters about how Major General Edward Braddock, Commander-in-Chief of His Majesty’s Forces in North America, landed in Alexandria in 1775. Tickets are free, and the event is from 12 to 4 p.m.
- Cherry Blossom Jubilee: On Sunday (April 10), enjoy live performance by taiko drum group Nen Daiko on the waterfront side of the Art Center, followed by an Art Center-wide exhibition of cherry blossom-inspired works by resident artists and galleries
- Outdoor vocal recital: On Thursday (April 14), Mexican soprano Judy Yannini makes her Secret Garden debut in a program of selections from vibrant zarzuelas to beloved operas, from 5 to 6 p.m. and 6:30 to 7 p.m. Tickets cost $45 apiece for adults and $25 for children
- Easter Egg Hunt at Lee-Fendall House: On April 16 and 17 (Saturday and Sunday), there will be Easter egg hunts at the historic property, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets cost $15 for children ages 2 to 12, $5 for accompanying adults
- Outdoor bluegrass concert: On April 21 (Thursday), listen to father-son team Ken & Brad Kolodner, from 5 to 6 p.m. and 6:30 to 7 p.m. Tickets cost $45 apiece for adults and $25 for children
- Advance screening of ‘TRASHY: a zero waste film’: The feature documentary follows its director as she tries not to throw anything away over the course of a year. The free screening at the Torpedo Factory Art Center starts at 6 p.m.
- 89th Annual Old Town Alexandria Homes & Garden Tour: The long cherished event will be held on April 23 (Saturday), from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets cost $55 apiece if bought online and $65 at the Alexandria Visitor Center to tour the Carlyle House, Lee-Fendall House, River Farm, Gunston Hall, Mount Vernon and Green Spring Gardens
- Alexandria Symphony Orchestra performance: The ASO will perform the music of Barber and Brahms at its April 23 (Saturday) concert. The event is from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. and costs $20-$85 for adults, $5 for children and $15 for students
- Rocklands BBQ meat and greet party: The April 23 (Saturday) event features School of Rock performances and local vendors
- Soul Food Saturday: On April 23 (Saturday), explore the contributions of African American innovation and tradition to American cuisine with a unique walking tour around Old Town. The event is from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and tickets cost $95 apiece
- Earth Day tree planting: Join the Alexandria City Council on April 23 (Saturday) for a tree planting on Earth Day in Old Town, from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.
- History discussion on African American housing crisis in Alexandria: On April 28 (Thursday), Dr. Krystyn Moon will examine how segregationist practices impaired Alexandria’s African American residents. The event is virtual
- Old Town Alexandria Fine Art And Design Festival: On Saturday (April 30), more than 100 artisans, crafters, independent consultants and other local small businesses in John Carlyle Square
Fresh off an approval to expand their music venue, the concert series at Classical Movements (711 Princess Street) is planning to highlight the music of two countries in crisis.
One of the two concerts will feature music from Afghanistan, featuring a performance from a recently arrived refugee. The other will feature musicians from the National Symphony and the Washington National Opera/Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra in a fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders’ work in Ukraine, according to a release from Classical Movements.
On March 10, “Flamenco Guitar Meets Tabla” will have Afghan tabla-player Hamid Raouf Habib Zada — who escaped Afghanistan with his family in August 2021 — performing alongside flamenco guitarist and vocalist Wadih Ettabbakh.
There are two programs scheduled, one at 7 and one at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are available online.
“In the United States, he has been able to pursue his career as a performer on the tabla, the hand drums popular in India and throughout South Asia,” the release said. “Habib Zada’s own Hindustani classical musical tradition will intersect with Wadih Ettabbakh’s own fusion of flamenco and Moroccan styles, a musical journey from Spain to Afghanistan, from Morocco to India – complemented by a glass of Spanish wine.”
The second program is scheduled for Tuesday, March 22, and will be a “Concert for Ukraine.”
“In response to the tragedy unfolding in Ukraine, Classical Movements dedicates its 100th concert, the Spring Season Opening Concert on Tuesday, March 22, in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, featuring musicians from the National Symphony and the Washington National Opera/Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra,” the release said.
The program will feature Ukrainian musicians performing classical songs from Ukrainian composers.
“A portion of proceeds from ticket sales and the entirety of additional donations will be donated to ‘Doctors Without Borders’ in support of their relief efforts in Ukraine,” the release said.
There are two showings scheduled, one for 5 p.m. and one for 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available online.
ALXnow has good news and bad news.
The good news — not to step on The Zebra’s beat — is Gordon Lightfoot is coming to The Birchmere (3701 Mt Vernon Avenue). The more on-brand bad news: the show is already sold out.
Shows coming up in March include:
- March 10: The Oak Ridge Boys
- March 11: The Voices of Motown
- March 12: An Evening with Tom Rush
- March 13: Harmony Sweepstakes
- March 17: Edwin McCain
- March 18: Joshua Radin
- March 19: The Smithereens
- March 20: Christian de Mesones
- March 22: Langhorne Slim
- March 24: Euge Groove
- March 25 and 26: The High Kings
- March 27: The English Beat
- March 28: Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs
- March 29: Delta Sprint
- March 30: Pokey LaFarge
- March 31: Joan Osborne
Then in April:
- April 1: The Manhattans
- April 2: Bob Schneider
- April 4: Walter Trout and Tommy Castro & The Painkillers
- April 6: Tab Benoit
- April 7: Asleep at the Wheel
- April 8 and 9: Average White Band
- April 10: Cowboy Junkies
- April 11 and 12: The Bacon Brothers
- April 13: Gordon Lightfoot
- April 14: Sergio Mendes
- April 15: Eaglemania
- April 16: James McMurtry
- April 18: The Zombies
- April 19: Delamitri
- April 20: Three Dog Night
- April 21: Leonid & Friends
- April 22: Shawn Colvin
- April 23: 10,000 Maniacs
- April 24: Joey Alexander
- April 25 and 26: Aimee Mann
- April 27: Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer
- April 28: Raul Malo
- April 29: Al Stewart
- April 30: Janis Ian
The full list of upcoming events at The Birchmere is available online.
Photo via Image via The Bacon Brothers/Facebook
George Washington birthday parade returning on Monday — “Celebrate Presidents’ Day and the first president’s 290th birthday at the George Washington Birthday Parade on Monday.” [Alexandria Times]
Study: coastal flooding to increase as seas rise 1 foot by 2050 — “Several areas in and around Alexandria are vulnerable, according to an updated interactive tool.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]
Alexandria Symphony to perform Bach and Vivaldi March 19 — “The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra (ASO) presents a special chamber orchestra concert Brandenburg, Vivaldi & Tango on Saturday, March 19, 2022 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Alexandria.” [Zebra]
ACPS receives award for renaming process — “The National School Boards Association awarded Alexandria City Public Schools a Silver Prize in its Magna Awards program for the campaign to rename two schools in the 2020-21 school year.” [Alexandria Times]
Despite complaints from neighbors, Alexandria’s City Council renewed Classical Movements’ permit to continue holding concerts in Old Town and even expand offerings.
Last year, international music tourism company Classical Movements (711 Princess Street) won approval from the city to transform the outdoor space behind their building into a venue for classical music performances. On Saturday, the City Council approved an earlier Planning Commission recommendation with a few amendments.
Among the biggest changes are a parking requirement reduction and a permit for amplified sound. Capacity at the venue was also boosted from 50 to 150.
“After two years of no income, Classical Movements has high hopes for 2022,” said Anita Helms, owner of Classical Movements. “We had a loss of over $900,000 last year. I kept my staff and we decided to present a few live music concerts. Turned out to be a huge success, articles were written widely about it, and inspired many to do the same. It turned out to be a real silver lining of COVID.”
Others, including employees, performers and attendees, spoke at the meeting expressing their support for Classical Movements. The lone voice of opposition at the hearing was David Fritz, a nearby resident who said the sound is disruptive.
“I have two young daughters, six and two years old, our primary concern with the application as-is is sound,” said Fritz. “Going from 50 people to 180 people (originally proposed), having concerts all the time, [that] has and will disrupt our lives. There have been violations, there have been complaints, there has been noise that’s gone above city levels. There are only two of us against this application, but we’re the minority that has to live adjacent to this.”
Fritz said his daughters go to bed at 7 p.m., which can be difficult for them with music playing next door until 10 and clean-up after dinner services continuing until 11.
“During the week they have weddings,” Fritz said. “I can stand in my daughter’s bedroom and hear the vows clear as day because we’re plaster on brick, there is no insulation, and we’re only tens of feet away. This will certainly have an impact on our lives.”
Ann Horowitz, from the city’s Department of Planning and Zoning, said there have been recorded violations of the city’s noise ordinance — which was 60 decibels at the time of approval but has been increased to 65 — but the noise level was typically within city requirements.
Hearing those concerns, the City Council added some of the inspections and follow-ups taken out by the Planning Commission. If there are documented noise violations, the Classical Movements will be required to come up with a new noise mitigation plan and a zoning inspection one year after approval is restored.
After nearly two years of hosting outdoor classical music concerts in Old Town, Classical Movements wants to expand their operation.
City Council, which approved Classical Movements’ request to operate last year, will review the application to expand hours and increase seating for the venue at The Rectory at 711 Princess Street at its meeting on Saturday, Feb. 12. Classical Movements wants to increase outdoor seating from 50 to 181, and expand hours from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
“(S)taff finds 10 p.m. to potentially interfere with the well-being of residents in the immediate area,” city staff said in a report to Council.
The historic venue, built in 1785, is currently allowed to have four hours of outdoor entertainment, and is allowed to operate on Friday and Saturday between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m., and Sundays to Thursday between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. The Rectory is also touted as a venue for all sorts of events, from business meetings to weddings.
“Although the applicant… continues to engage in tour sales and proposals for 2022, it does not anticipate a return to a full concert tour scheduled until 2023,” city staff reported.
There were three noise complaints issued against Classical Movements — in April, May and August 2021. One of the complaints was against amplified sound and the others were for operating past 8 p.m. during the week.
The Planning Commission approved the proposal 5-1 earlier this month, although city staff recommend that seating be limited to 100 patrons to limit noise. Staff also recommend continuing the business’s hours. Additionally, if approved, a parking exception would be necessary as there are only 10 parking spaces at the property.
Classical Movements representatives initially asked the city to approve their plan for outdoor concerts shortly after the pandemic landed in Alexandria in 2020, but did not hear back on their request. The company decided to start putting on shows anyway at the property’s secret garden with small live concerts featuring musicians from the National Symphony Orchestra, the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra and the Eclipse Chamber Orchestra.
Image via Classical Movements
Singers wanted for older adults choir in Alexandria — “Encore Creativity for Older Adults (Encore), an arts education nonprofit, is hosting two 15-week choral programs for people 55 and over beginning the second week of January.” [Zebra]
Christmas in camp in Alexandria — “Fort Ward reenacts Civil War Christmas.” [Alexandria Gazette]
New Capital Bikeshare station in Alexandria — “New station alert! Check out this new, 11-dock station installed at Fillmore Avenue & Bisdorf Drive.” [Twitter]
Waterskiing Santa returns Dec. 24 — “Now in its 36th year, the Waterskiing Santa returns with his band of merry fellow waterskiing friends — and The Grinch.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]
Baseball game raises $10,000 for SRO/International Academy soccer program — “Thank you to The Congressional Baseball Game for Charity for their continued support of our SROs Gary and Johnny’s soccer program at the International Academy at Alexandria City High School.” [Facebook]
Washington Post digs into Torpedo Factory fight — “As the Alexandria City Council is set to consider three sharply different visions on how to fund renovations and bring in more visitors, some of the artists at the Torpedo Factory fear they will be kicked out for good. And while the city contends that will not happen, several ideas on the table call for at least some studios to be converted to other uses.” [Washington Post]
Alexandria Choral Society raises $4,790 for charity — “Thank you to everyone who contributed to our #GivingTuesday fundraiser this week. Because of your generosity, we raised $4790, over twice our goal!” [Twitter]
Alexandria Living Magazine profiles the city’s Rock n’ Roll legends — “Some of the country’s most famous musical acts have ties to Alexandria.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]
Arlandria music venue The Birchmere has a jam-packed schedule for the holiday season, with a few notable big names and old favorites returning.
Coming up later this week is musician Chris Isaak, best known for his 1989 single Wicked Game.
Classic 70s rock band America is coming to the Birchmere next month, though unfortunately the show is already sold out.
Birchmere frequent guest KT Tunstall — whose hits like Black Horse and the Cherry Tree were everywhere around 2006 — is also making a return in December. With a completely different vibe: surrealist filmmaker John Waters is also returning to the Birchmere for his yearly Christmas show.
Contaminated Legacy: From slave plantation to industrial pollution, a hidden history of North Old Town — “The land where the power plant is now located was once a slave plantation owned by the first rector of Christ Church, Townshend Dade. In the 1920s, the area experienced rapid industrialization. The American Chlorophyll Company set up operation on the spot where the power plant would later locate the coal pile. And the Potomac River Clay Works had an operation on what is now the parking lot of the power plant. Neighbors in North Old Town say they want all that contaminated soil cleaned up rather than capped in place and left where it is, a common way to deal with these kinds of heavily polluted sites.” [Gazette]
Alexandria Symphony Orchestra opens fall season — “So thrilled the @Alex_Symphony is back, live and in-person at the Schlesinger Center! Live music is back, masked and vaccinated and better than ever!” [Twitter]
Today’s weather — “Cloudy early. Scattered thunderstorms developing later in the day. High 81F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 40%… Scattered thunderstorms in the evening. Partly cloudy skies overnight. Low around 65F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 50%.” [Weather.com]
New job: Alexandria haunted pub tour guide — “We specialize in performing haunted pub tours. Think ghost tour combined with Pub Crawl and there you have it. Our website is www.NightlySpirits.com and we are currently looking for tour guides to work 2-3 days per week, but possibly more depending on the season. Our pub tours operate Wednesday-Sunday evenings, so you must have evening and weekend availability. Tours run roughly 3 hours. We are looking for exciting, life-of-the-party tour guides. If people find you boring, don’t bother applying. You also must be able to learn quickly, memorize a script and ACT IT OUT, as well as be able to interact with the group. Typically our tour guides have worked in a bar/restaurant or have some acting skills as well as the ability to herd cats.” [jobshq.com]