Alexandria, VA

A concert tour company that started giving live classical music performances last spring wants official city approval to keep the music playing.

Representatives from Classical Movements asked the city for approval last April and May to allow musicians to perform at The Rectory at 711 Princess Street in Old Town. After not hearing back, they decided to start putting on shows anyway at the property’s secret garden with small live concerts. The Sounds of Hope and Harmony performances have been held with socially distant crowds, and have featured musicians from the National Symphony Orchestra, the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra and the Eclipse Chamber Orchestra.

Performances included a Sounds of Joy and Light series, in addition to Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa performances. Now, however, the organization is asking the Planning Commission to allow the space to be rented to musicians for such performances. The application will go to the commission at its meeting on March 2, and all future events have been canceled pending city approval.

“We hope to offer our outdoor Secret Garden to other local music organizations to have concerts outdoors,” wrote Classical Movements President Neeta Helms in the application. “As you know, they are also without any income during COVID-19.”

Helms wrote that the live music industry has been ground to a halt by the pandemic, and that her business has faced a total loss going into the foreseeable future.

“There will be a longer delay for our business to return to normal because full choirs and orchestras will need to be able to meet for rehearsals and concerts, domestic and international travel restrictions will need to be lifted, and most of them will require a vaccine in order to go on concert tour or attend one of our festivals,” Helms wrote. “Our core business may not come back until late 2021 or, worse and more likely at his point, 2022. Despite all this, we have reinvented ourselves to pull through this crisis and lead the charge for the return of live classical music.”

The concerts typically last one hour, and future use would allow performances to be held inside the building, which includes a large ballroom.

Photo via City of Alexandria

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The Birchmere’s rundown for the next few months is full of as many 2021 rescheduling as upcoming shows, but there’s still plenty on offer at Alexandria’s historic music venue.

One of the most high profile acts scheduled for the rest of 2020 is KT Tunstall, scheduled for Dec. 15 at 7:30 p.m. Tunstall’s “Suddenly I See” was a 2005 earworm that became a hit and featured in everything from The Devil Wears Prada to the 2008 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.

Coronavirus is on the rise in Virginia again, and the director of Alexandria’s Health Department warned locals to choose lower-risk activities. For its part, The Birchmere is operating at around 40% capacity, or 200 attendees, along with other safety precautions listed on the venue’s website.

Photo via kttunstall.com

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Alexandria’s course toward social justice might be long, but hope remains for a better future. That’s the message behind the Alexandria Choral Society’s (ACS) Refuge project, and if all goes as planned the five-movement piece will be performed live next May by members of the T.C. Williams High School choir.

“There’s a lot of mileage that you have to go on that journey for a better future,” Refuge composer Jonathan Kolm told ALXnow. “There’s an uplifting arc of hope, but one that is tempered by difficult circumstances that we find ourselves in.”

ACS Artistic Director Brian J. Isaac said that the piece has been labeled a “crowdsource commission,” because portions of the texts that will be sung by the choir have been chosen by the ACS members and fans in Zoom chats. The texts from the fifth movement will be chosen next month.

“Right now, we plan to present this live in May,” Isaac said. “But if it’s not safe to do so, we will likely release a portion of this and maybe a teaser of one movement or a portion of one movement in a virtual format, and then perform the entirety of this work with T.C. Williams as soon as we possibly can.”

A portion of ticket revenue from the concert will be donated to a social justice charity in Alexandria.

The first four movements will include the following texts:

Photo via Alexandria Choral Society/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Beyer Says Trump Only Cares About Himself — “Trump doesn’t care about legal principles or the law. Trump doesn’t care about fair counts, and he doesn’t care about our democratic norms. Trump doesn’t care about his oath to protect the Constitution. The only thing Donald Trump cares about is Donald Trump.” [Twitter]

Mas Seafood to Open Retail Space in Old Town — “From the previous North Henry Street location, they supplied restaurants in Alexandria and Arlington, including Daniel O’Connell’s Pub, Fontaine Caffe & Creperie, Alexandria Pasty Shop and Belle Haven Pizzeria. While they had always been interested in doing retail sales, it wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic upended their market that they were able to make the shift — almost by accident.” [Alexandria Living]

Outcasts Brass Band Jazzes Up Old Town — “Band members who can wear masks while playing wear their masks, and all band members wear masks in between songs. They also stand farther apart from one another and encourage audiences to practice social distancing and wear masks.” [Alex Times]

Alexandrian Sending Space Cube to Moon — “Alexandria’s Hudson Merrick is going to take a selfie in space. At least that is part of what he what he and 19 other carefully selected students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University are attempting in the latest space mission, the EagleCam CubeSat camera system. The first-of-its-kind student-led project aims to snap a third-person ‘selfie’ of a lunar lander touching down on the moon.” [Zebra]

DCHS Helping Residents with Medicare Open Enrollment — “Do you or someone you know need assistance with Medicare Open Enrollment? The Department of Community and Human Services can help. The Medicare health insurance program–for people age 65 or older, or under age 65 with certain disabilities or disease–encourages all enrollees to review their plans  to ensure the plans meet their needs. Open enrollment ends December 7.” [City of Alexandria]

Today’s Weather — “Some clouds in the morning will give way to mainly sunny skies for the afternoon. High 72F. Winds light and variable. A mostly clear sky (in the evening). Low 46F. Winds light and variable.”[Weather.com]

New Job: Ministry Program Associate — “This is a full-time position at the Alfred Street Baptist Church (ASBC) located in Alexandria, Virginia. The incumbent is under the day-to-day supervision of the Liaison for Ministries and serves as Ministry Program Associate. This role is primarily responsible for providing direction and leadership to ministry leaders and staff in the areas of ministry program development, volunteer and event management and new ministry development.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

U.S. Secretary of Education Commends ACPS Superintendent for Sending Child to Private School — “How great that Superintendent Hutchings is able to make this choice for his child. Every family in Alexandria, VA, and across the entire country, should have the same freedom to choose where, when and how their kids learn.” [Twitter]

Beyer Says Trump Lying About Health Care Plan — “rump has no health plan. He’s been lying for five years, always saying there’s this amazing plan just around the corner. Meanwhile he’s suing to get the health law that protects Americans with preexisting conditions struck down by the Supreme Court.” [Twitter]

City Wins Grant to Add WiFi and Seating to Four Mile Run Park Plaza — “Alexandria was one of just 10 cities to receive the award.” [City of Alexandria]

City Releases Guidance for Trick-Or-Treaters — “The City of Alexandria and the Alexandria Health Department (AHD) strongly urge residents to choose lower risk Halloween and Dia de los Muertos activities this year to reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 outbreaks. There are many alternative options to celebrate Halloween and Dia de los Muertos while also maintaining a lower level risk of spreading COVID-19.” [City of Alexandria]

Virtual Fundraiser for Artists on October 24 — “ACT 4 #ArtsALX was inspired by the need for artists to share their work given the difficulty of performing, teaching and holding exhibits in the time of COVID-19. The lack of revenue from performances, classes and exhibitions has led to critical financial problems for the arts. Most artists and organizations have had to cancel seasons and indoor events for the foreseeable future, transitioning to smaller, outdoor events and virtual presentations.”

Today’s Weather — “Mainly sunny (during the day). High 73F. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph. A mostly clear sky (in the evening). Low 54F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Keyboards/Guitar Teacher — “3+ years teaching experience on keyboards/guitar. Multi-instrumentalist a plus. Experience working with children as young as 6 years old. Ability to pass a standard background check and sign a code of conduct.” [Facebook]

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Morning Notes

Beyer Criticizes Trump’s Position on Michigan Governor Abduction Plot — “Trump has now responded. This is just sick.” [Twitter]

Voter Registration Deadline Approaching — “The deadline to register to vote in the November 3 elections or update voter registration information is Tuesday, October 13.” [Twitter]

Alexandria Makes Forbes’ Weekend Getaway List — “Alexandria tops the list of @Forbes‘ fall weekend getaways. See what they recommend.” [Twitter]

Alexandria Tutoring Consoritum Needs Tutors — “Once ATC confirms that you will be a tutor (we will send you an email), 2) complete the Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) volunteer application.” [Alexandriatutors.org]

Alexandria Symphony Orchestra Announces Grant Winners — “The grant-funded projects, which must be completed by June 2021, will aim to accomplish one of a number of specific goals, according to a news release.” [Alex Times]

Today’s Weather — “Intervals of clouds and sunshine (during the day). High 72F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Mainly cloudy (in the evening). Low 58F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: District Manager — “District Managers are responsible for managing all facets of the optometric office operations within the designated district, including but not limited to; the daily operation of an office, including personnel management, budgetary controls, inventory controls while maintaining the highest level of patient service.” [Indeed]

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Country Music Hall of Famer Marty Stuart will play The Birchmere on Halloween night, and the celebrated music hall in the city’s Arlandria neighborhood has a full slate of performances all this month.

Stuart, who started his career playing with Johnny Cash’s road band, will play at 7:30 p.m. on October 31.

There are a number of other well known artists performing throughout the month.

The full schedule is below.

Photo via Marty Stuart/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Beyer: We Must Protect the U.S. Postal Service —  “I have been in touch with local postal officials, who express their commitment to ensuring the timely delivery and return of all ballots. This could be an issue in many parts of the country, however, and I will be working with my colleagues to exercise constant vigilance and ensure that elections are fair and safe. My Northern Virginia colleague, U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, serves as the chair of the Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations, and with his tireless leadership the House will do all it can to fix these problems and restore operations and service at USPS.” [Gazette]

Three City Parks Scheduled for Improvements — “Projects at or near Powhatan, Hooffs Run, and Brenman Parks to occur over next two months.” [Zebra]

City Holding Virtual 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony Online — “Alexandria’s ceremony is prerecorded and virtual to avoid a large gathering during the pandemic. It will include remarks from Mayor Justin Wilson, City Manager Mark Jinks, and representatives from the Alexandria Fire Department, Police Department, and Sheriff’s Office. There will also be a “Return to Quarters” bell-ringing ceremony.” [Patch]

Alexandria Wedding Showcase Goes Virtual — “Tune in virtually on Sunday, Sept. 13 to hear from a variety of vendors on trends, wedding industry changes, and what you need to know while planning your wedding during a pandemic.” [Alexandria Living]

Carlyle Concert Series Starts Friday — “Enjoy the Carlyle Farmers Market while you attend the Concert! Alcohol is available for purchase at select vendor stands and bar as well BYOB-Bring Your Own Beverage will be observed in designated area.” [Facebook]

Harvest Moon Yoga Tonight in Del Ray — “Shine on Harvest Moon! Free outdoor yoga in Del Ray returns every Wed. Sept. 9 – Oct. 14, 6:00 – 7:00 pm at the Del Ray Psych & Wellness lot, 1900 Mt. Vernon Avenue (Corner of E. Bellefonte) in the Heart of Del Ray.” [Facebook]

Today’s Weather — “Cloudy early. Scattered thunderstorms developing later in the day. High 81F. Winds ENE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%. Scattered thunderstorms in the evening, then mainly cloudy overnight with thunderstorms likely. Heavy and torrential downpours at times. Low 72F. Winds ENE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 80%.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Dog Walker and Pet Sitter — “Are you a veterinary technician who has been pet-sitting under the table to supplement your income? Have you worried about your lack of insurance or back-up plan if you got sick? If so, then joining Cat Nanny Jess might be the answer to all your worries!” [Indeed]

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The “Modern Rock Camp” at School of Rock Alexandria (3260 Duke Street) has plexiglass screens, and on a recent August afternoon the band “Horses Ate My Dad” broke their long silence and played a virtual gig.

The kids were safe distances apart and played with face masks.

“We’re a safe place, and kids want to socialize,” School of Rock owner Steve McKay told ALXnow. “School Of Rock is all about putting kids together in groups. They learn so much faster, but so much has changed and I’m not gonna let them down.”

McKay said that he lost 40% of his business and was completely virtual for the first two months of the pandemic before cautiously reopening. Now, with smaller in-person class sizes, plexiglass screens and students spread out (in addition to the Zoom classes), McKay is booking gigs at venues in the area, including at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, The Electric Palm Restaurant in Woodbridge and at the Lee District Amphitheater in the Alexandria area of Fairfax County.

The school lost a lot of their younger kids because it’s tough keeping them under control in a group setting, McKay said. Other changes include the addition of an adult band that will start playing in October.

“Folks have been isolated for months, and to get together again and rehearse and see their friends feels just amazing,” McKay said.

2 shows this weekend for our House Band. Come out to enjoy some socially distanced live music. #sor_alx

Posted by School of Rock Alexandria on Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Photo via School of Rock Alexandria/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Beyer Calls Out Minority Leader for Post Office Tweet — “Trump admitted he was sabotaging the US Postal Service to stop people from voting in a televised interview on FoxNews. It was even on a channel you guys actually watch.” [Twitter]

Alexandria Now Has 3,165 Cases of COVID-19 — “The latest update from the City on COVID-19: Positive tests up 19 to 3,165 in the City 7-day Positivity Rate steady at 5.8% 0 new hospitalizations Still safer at home, wash hands, wear masks and support our essential workers.” [Twitter]

Local White Collar Workers Adapt to COVID-19 — “Greg Crist is a D.C. lobbyist who used to wear suits, and go to lunch, and spend his days taking meetings on the Hill, or in his nicely appointed office at 701 Pennsylvania Ave. Now that his office is closed because of the pandemic, Crist is a man who commutes a few hundred feet from his Alexandria, Va., home to his silver Audi, where he spends much of the day taking calls in the only place where the important people on the other end of the line cannot hear his toddler son scream.” [Washington Post]

Colin Powell Was Interviewed for a Documentary in Alexandria — “Secretary Colin Powell was interviewed at the Athenaeum for a segment in “Statecraft: The Bush 41 Team”, that recently aired on PBS.” [Facebook]

Velocity Bike Cooperative Donates Bikes to Community Lodgings — “We’d like to give a special thank you to Vélocity Bicycle Cooperative for donating 15 bicycles which were given to our summer program students. We’d also like to thank our Board member, Marty Devine, for donating new bike helmets, bike locks, and bike bells for all of our summer program students. With their bikes and safety gear, our students can enjoy safe and healthy fun outdoors this summer!” [Facebook]

‘Horses Ate My Dad’ and ‘Splendid Offensive’ Headlining School of Rock Show — “This is what happens when we let students come up with their own band names. We trust that no Dads were harmed in the creation of one of the band names.” [Facebook]

The Alexandria Sock Design Contest is On — “Your sock design could become the Official Sock of Alexandria, be manufactured and go on sale at the Old Town Sock Co. in Old Town this holiday season!” [Alexandria Living]

Alexandria Community Alliance Needs Volunteers to Pack Care Kits — “Help us deliver 250 Care Kits by the end of summer! We’re still accepting Cleaning, Toiletry, Baby Supply, and Basic Meal kits to provide high-demand essential items to families in need in Alexandria.” [Facebook]

Today’s Weather — Sunshine and clouds mixed. High 84F. Winds E at 5 to 10 mph. In the evening, a few clouds from time to time. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. Low 68F. Winds light and variable. [Weather.com]

New Job: Police Officer — “You’re awake too? Perfect timing to think about a new career as a police officer. APD is holding a police test THIS FRIDAY (8/21) at APD HQ (3600 Wheeler Ave) at 2PM and 5PM.” [Twitter]

New Job: Reconstruction Estimator — “Review and evaluate cost estimates, communicates with team members regarding new and current projects. Prepare estimates and cost in detail for all products, ensure timely completion of estimates and rebuild jobs, establish and maintain working relation with homeowners and adjusters.” [Indeed]

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