Good Friday morning, Alexandria!
🌥 Today’s weather: Cloudy. Mild. High of 69 and low of 51.
🌥 Tomorrow: Cloudy. Mild. High of 72 and low of 52. Sunrise at 6:05 am and sunset at 8:04 pm.
🚨 You need to know
More gunfire was reported near the Braddock Road Metro station yesterday afternoon, prompting the Alexandria Police Department to tweet that it’s “determined” to solve recent crime issues.
“APD has taken action by installing cameras and increasing police presence in the area to ensure everyone’s safety,” APD tweeted. “No one has been hurt, but we’re determined to prevent any potential harm by keeping a police presence there until we resolve this violence.”
Thursday’s incident occurred in the same block as a number of recent shootings. The city is experiencing a crime surge, and police are fighting it by increasing patrols in high-crime areas, installing mobile camera units and hosting community events.
We care about your safety and appreciate the communities cooperation to help resolve this issue.
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) May 5, 2023
We had such a great time on Monday at Coffee with a Cop that we are planning three more this month! We hope to see you there!
May 9, 2023 – Monarch 800-930 540 N Henry St.
May 16, 2023 – Bradlee 800-930 3690 King St.
May 23, 2023 – Van Dorn 800-0930 5782 Dow Ave. pic.twitter.com/lN1MfBBuwi
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) May 2, 2023
📈 Thursday’s most read
The following are the most-read ALXnow articles for May 4, 2023.
- JUST IN: Police investigating shots fired incident near Braddock Road Metro station (1834 views)
- Fundraiser established for family of the ACHS student who died this week (1203 views)
- Notes: Alexandria driver killed in hit-and-run in D.C. | ALXnow (727 views)
- JUST IN: Melanie Kay-Wyatt announced as Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent (516 views)
🗞 Other local coverage
- Dr. Melanie Kay-Wyatt is the New Permanent Superintendent for Alexandria City Public Schools
Zebra (Thursday @ 10:25 pm)
- Interim Schools Superintendent Becomes Permanent in Alexandria
Alexandria Living (Thursday @ 7:48 pm)
- Dr. Melanie Kay-Wyatt announced as new ACPS Superintendent
Alexandria Times (Thursday @ 7:45 pm)
- Good Food for a Good Cause: ALIVE! Hosting Alexandria Community Cookouts This Month
Zebra (Thursday @ 6:17 pm)
- Do it yourself: Four project ideas to bring new life to your home
Alexandria Times (Thursday @ 6:09 pm)
- Alexandria City School Board – Public Hearing- Budget
Alexandria Times (Thursday @ 5:31 pm)
- Board of Architectural Review – Public Hearing
Alexandria Times (Thursday @ 5:29 pm)
- AT&T – Public Notice
Alexandria Times (Thursday @ 5:28 pm)
- DASH To Re-Route Some Lines To Serve Potomac Yard Metro Station in Alexandria
Zebra (Thursday @ 5:28 pm)
- Alexandria City School Board-Public Hearing
Alexandria Times (Thursday @ 5:27 pm)
- No Alexandria Primary Election Scheduled In 2023
Patch (Thursday @ 4:33 pm)
- ACHS student receives Narcan
Alexandria Times (Thursday @ 3:52 pm)
- Pets: Dog walking dangers: Avoid injuries and accidents by following these steps
Alexandria Times (Thursday @ 3:41 pm)
- Reunion results
Alexandria Times (Thursday @ 3:33 pm)
- After school registration for 2023-2024
Alexandria Times (Thursday @ 3:29 pm)
- Taste Of Del Ray Returns To One Location In 2023
Patch (Thursday @ 3:24 pm)
- Record breaking fundraiser
Alexandria Times (Thursday @ 3:23 pm)
- Minor arrested for carjacking
Alexandria Times (Thursday @ 3:19 pm)
- Bus lanes on Duke Street?
Alexandria Times (Thursday @ 2:44 pm)
- Alexandria Celebrates Cinco de Mayo
Alexandria Living (Thursday @ 1:00 pm)
- Most Popular Brunch Spots In U.S. Include 5 NoVA Restaurants
Patch (Thursday @ 12:56 pm)
- Unanimous Vote: Alexandria City Council Approves FY 2024 Budget
Zebra (Thursday @ 11:59 am)
- Del Ray Central Apartment Building Sells for $52 Million
Zebra (Thursday @ 11:30 am)
- Crash conviction and sentence
Alexandria Times (Thursday @ 11:28 am)
- Same Real Estate Tax Rate Approved In Alexandria City Budget
Patch (Thursday @ 10:23 am)
- ACHS student receives Narcan
Alexandria Times (Thursday @ 9:16 am)
- Jula’s on the Potomac Plans June Opening
Alexandria Living (Thursday @ 7:43 am)
📅 Upcoming events
Here is what’s going on today and this weekend in Alexandria, from our event calendar.
- 8:00 am Saturday: Riverside Gardens Neighborhood Yard Sale
- 10:00 am Saturday: Lost Buildings in Alexandria
- 11:00 am Saturday: Old Town Alexandria Art Show & Craft Spring Fair ~ Mother’s Day Celebration
- 👉 5:15 pm Saturday: Beethoven, Brews, and BBQ
- 👉 7:00 pm Saturday: 2023 Alexandria Scottish Rite Friends & Family Charity Event
The incoming musical director of the Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic — an Alexandria-based non-profit — says that future concerts will feature women composers and composers of color.
Anna Binneweg was recently announced as the new musical director, beating a pool of 50 other candidates for the position. She will replace Alexandria Living Legend Ulysses James, who has been at the head of WMP since for 39 years and is retiring in May.
“I am thrilled and deeply grateful to the musicians, staff, and Board of WMPA (Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic Association) for choosing me to be WMP’s next musical leader in its 52nd season,” Binneweg said in a statement. “I want to also recognize the immense impact of outgoing Music Director Ul James, whose artistic vision shaped WMPA for almost four decades and paved the way for exciting new growth in the future.”
Binneweg guest conducted the 65-person orchestra in 2022, and said she is “looking forward to the powerful, transformative work we will do together in the coming seasons.”
For the last 15 years, Binneweg has been the musical director of the Londontowne Symphony Orchestra in Annapolis, Maryland. She has a doctorate in music and orchestral conducting from Northwestern University, teaches music at Anne Arundel Community College and was on the conducting faculties at Loyola University, the Sherwood Conservatory of Music and American University.
Binneweg’s last concert with the Londontowne Symphony Orchestra is on June 10.
“As music director it will be my goal to choose programming which serves the entirety of the VA/DC/MD area,” Binneweg said. “That means programming works by composers of color, female composers, creating new collaborations with local creative professionals, engaging high-quality guest artists while also promoting both WMP principal musicians and the Washington Metropolitan Youth Orchestra talent who will one day shape the future of our industry, and offering audiences a healthy dose of the ever-relevant ‘classics’ while also celebrating and cultivating the work of living composers.”
WMPA executive director Caroline Mousset said that the 2023/2024 season will be announced this June.
“I couldn’t be happier that we’ve found Anna to join WMPA,” says Executive Director Caroline Mousset. “During her concert in December 2022, I could already tell what a great match Anna would be for WMP. I’m convinced of her knowledge and confidence as a conductor and communicator, and her inherent understanding of musicians’ needs and experience. Anna has a wealth of inspiring ideas to take us forward, is enthusiastic about music education and WMPA’s role in the community, and has a true love of Alexandria. We are so excited to start working together!”
The Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic Association, a nonprofit, was founded in 1971 and 1972 as the Mount Vernon Youth Orchestra and Mount Vernon Orchestra, respectively. James became director of both orchestras in 1984 after founder H. Stevens Brewster died in a car crash. The orchestras, which perform at the Lyceum and at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial, were rebranded in 2004 to their current names — the Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic and Washington Metropolitan Youth Orchestra (for high school kids). The Washington Metropolitan Concert Orchestra for middle school kids was added in 2008.
James will be honored by WMP at its season finale concert on May 20 at 3 p.m. at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial. The program includes a selection from George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess,” Aaron Copland’s “Rodeo” and Anthony Iannaccone’s “Waiting for the Sunrise on the Sound.”
(Updated 8 p.m.) A band consisting of former T.C. Williams High School students and a current Alexandria City High School (ACHS) teacher were recognized at the Wammie Awards last Saturday, a regional music award.
Rock band Hanoi Ragmen, an Alexandria-based six person band that started at T.C. Williams High School (before it became Alexandria City High School), won Best Rock Album for their debut album The Oldlight and Best Rock Song for Foolhearted off the same album.
“We’re definitely stoked,” said front man and guitarist Gabe Harr. “It’s a regional thing, so by no means are our heads blown up, but we put a lot of hard work into that record. Sometimes it feels like you’re shouting into a void, so it’s nice to have an institution recognize that and say it’s of quality and emblematic of rock.”
The band released an EP in 2019 and started work on an album, but those plans got disrupted when Covid hit. The band also signed with Alexandria record label Baffin Records and had to remix and remaster the songs.
Harr said it’s been a slow process, but the band has gradually been building over time, but that’s been part of the band’s charm as well.
“We started at birthday parties with bounce castles, but you build knowledge and people start to book you for shows,” Harr said. “We released our EP when we were in high school. It became a fun reason for a bunch of social circles to come together and jam with us. By the time we made our new record in 2022, we formed this little community of fans.”
Harr said that small community of fans has made shows an intimate and friendly experience.
“The way we’ve always understood growing success in Alexandria is: if you’re going to Hanoi Ragmen, you’re coming to hang out with your friends,” Harr said. “It feels like Hanoi Ragmen is everybody’s band, it’s not just us being cool on stage. The band is my best friends from Alexandria.”
Lead guitarist Max Powell said promoting shows up to this point has usually meant the band members just texting everyone in their contacts. The disparate social circles has also been reflected in an array of different music genres influencing the band.
“About a month before our shows, we text everyone in our phones, exes and all, and get it out to everyone,” Powell said. “I feel like we have a pretty eclectic range of musical interests and interwoven genres.”
According to Harr, Alexandria’s music scene has a big advantage over some of the other localities in the region.
“[Alexandria] is a community that’s big enough to have a lively music scene, but small enough that we all know each other and you can talk to musicians you think are cool,” Harr said.
Powell said it’s that fan connection that made the Wammie Award feel so special.
“As a band, we’re not usually too concerned with awards, but knowing our fans got us in there to know we could get judged… it feels like they have our backs,” Powell said. “Whenever we play D.C., we’re really just bringing Alexandria to D.C.”
The band is going to get a chance to bring Alexandria to D.C. later this year with their biggest show yet on August 12 at Black Cat (1811 14th Street NW).
“It’s a much bigger venue than we’ve played before,” Powell said, admitting that playing at the famed venue makes him nervous. “We did well and we sold out Union Stage in july this past summer. That was, like, 450 person capacity. Black Cat is 800. So it’s definitely a big step up for us.”
Powell also said the Wammies have drawn more attention to the band, putting more eyes on the Black Cat show in August.
“We left a pretty decent impression on people at the Wammies and we’ve had a few people looking our way now,” Powell said.
For those checking out the band for the first time, Powell said his favorite go-to song to direct people to is Foolhearted, the one that won the award.
“That’s one written almost entirely by our bassist [Beck Moniz],” Powell said. “It’s just a great fun pop rock song and it was the first song he ever wrote. To know him and to know how good of a song it is, I love that song. That and I would tell people to listen to the opening track. The sax solo, oh my god.”
The awards program also recognized Gregory ‘Sugar Bear’ Elliott for its 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award.
Elliott is the frontman of go-go band Experience Unlimited — known by fans as E.U. — which was most known for its song Da’ Butt in the Spike Lee movie School Daze. The song popped up again recently at the Oscars in 2021 when Glenn Close danced to it at the program.
In addition to leading the band, Elliott has been teaching special education at Alexandria City High school since 1996.
While E.U. hasn’t had a hit to the level of Da Butt’ in 1988, the band has continued to put out music, including an album called Free Yourself in 2021.
Image via Hanoi Ragmen/Facebook
Chris Issak, John Waters and Judy Collins are just a few of the dozens of famous artists who petitioned the Alexandria Planning Commission and City Council to approve The Birchmere‘s Special Use Permit request to keep up its flashy new 5-foot-by-2.5-foot digital sign along Mount Vernon Avenue in Arlandria.
The Planning Commission approved the request 7-0 on Tuesday, and it now goes to City Council. Planning Commission Chair Nathan Macek said that the letters with all of the supporting signatures would be “an excellent auction item.”
“Performing artists are now expecting the venues to keep up with the times,” wrote Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Judy Collins. “It is a necessary tool to promote the artists as well as the venue.”
Some requests were simple, like filmmaker John Waters, who wrote, “I am writing to support the Birchmere’s request to be allowed to keep their new LED sign.”
Chris Isaak wrote: “I wholeheartedly support the Birchmere Music Hall in their effort to retain their beautiful new sign. Please help them out… thank you!”
Gary Oelze, the owner of the music hall, erected the large electric sign last summer without city approval, prompting a request from the city manager’s office to go through an official process. Oelze, who was recently named a Living Legend of Alexandria, died last month.
“I think you know we do have a process in place for digital signs,” Macek said. “This is probably a case where they should have come in advance of putting the sign in.”
The Commission also approved a request to keep the sign lit until midnight, as well as the installation of a smaller sign at the entrance of the venue.
The following artists wrote letters in support of the new sign:
- Bela Dona Band
- Karla Bonoff
- Chris Botti
- Norman Brown
- Carbon Leaf
- Judy Collins
- Daryl Davis
- Raheem DeVaughn
- Will Downing
- Charles Esten
- Samantha Fish
- Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer
- Chris Isaak
- Glenn Jones
- Samara Joy
- Kenny Lattimore
- Musiq Souchild
- The Seldom Scene
- Ricky Skaggs
- Rick Springfield
- Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes
- Storm Large
- Livingston Taylor
- William “Smooth” Wadlaw
- John Waters
- Alyson Williams
- Dar Williams
- Jason D. Williams
Old Town was packed on Saturday morning for Alexandria’s 40th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Thousands of visitors lined King Street to watch a procession of more than 2,000 participants, including Irish dancers, historic reenactors and the City of Alexandria Pipes and Drums. The festivities also included a car show and a dog show at Market Square outside City Hall.
This year’s Grand Marshal was Charlotte Hall, managing director of Old Town Business. The parade was sponsored by the Ballyshaners, a nonprofit dedicated to Irish heritage. Ballyshaners is Gaelic for “Old Towners.”
Enjoy the photos!
It’s the 40th annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in old town Alexandria. @wtop pic.twitter.com/GALWNTcrJE
— Dick Uliano (@DickUliano) March 4, 2023
Get out of the way!!
Today, the Woodridge Showtime Marching Eagles Performed at the 2023 Ballyshaners St. Patrick's Day Parade held in Old Town Alexandria Virginia. #woodridgeeaglessoar💙💛💙🦅 #FriendshipProud #fpcswoodridge #dccharterproud #marchingband pic.twitter.com/0jpJoQ4U4F
— Friendship PCS (@FriendshipPCS) March 4, 2023
Some St. Patrick’s Day parade shots. #alexandriava #oldtownalexandria pic.twitter.com/l1Cx1kgLG2
— Old Town Dog Walks (@Oldtowndogwalks) March 4, 2023
Alexandria City High School students watching Saturday Night Live this weekend might have seen a familiar face in the musical numbers: the school’s Director of Choral Activities Theodore Thorpe III.
Thorpe was part of the Jason Max Ferdinand Singers in a choral ensemble with Coldplay, performing the songs The Astronaut, Human Heart, and Fix You in the show on Saturday, Feb. 4.
Thorpe said there were two days of rehearsal before the show: one with the members of the Jason Max Ferdinand Singers and then one with the group and Coldplay.
“There was a lot of work on multiple fronts,” Thorpe said. “Not just the chorus and the musical scores, but all of the folks working to make the performance happen, from set design to stage management and costuming. I like to call it: organized chaos.”
Thorpe has known Jason Max Ferdinand for over two decades but said this new choral group took off during the pandemic.
“This group really started out of the pandemic and it has just been taking off,” Thorpe said.
Thorpe said the Saturday Night Live performance came from the friendship between Ferdinand and musician Jacob Collier.
“[Ferdinand] got a call from [Collier] who said Chris Martin from Coldplay wanted this choir to perform with him,” Thorpe said. “They brought us to New York. The members of our ensemble are from all over, so we came together for this performance and really only had one day.”
Thorpe said he was backstage for much of the show because they had to do a quick change between songs.
“It felt great,” Thorpe said. “It was a great experience, from rehearsals all the way down.”
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.
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.”
(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.
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:
- Nov. 1: Joep Beving
- Nov. 2: Pink Martini
- Nov. 3: John Moreland
- Nov. 4: Phillip Phillips
- Nov. 5: Loose Ends
- Nov. 6: Ottmar Liebert & Luna Negra
- Nov. 8: Mac McAnally
- Nov. 9: Jeff “Skunk” Baxter & The American Vinyl All Star Band
- Nov. 10: Damien Escobar
- Nov. 11 and Nov. 12: Paula Poundstone
- Nov. 13: Rodney Crowell
- Nov. 14: Zoe Keating
- Nov. 15: Jake Shimabukaro
- Nov. 16: Tower of Power
- Nov. 17: Boney James
- Nov. 18 and Nov. 19: Jeffrey Osborne
- Nov. 20: Della Mae & Sister Sadie
- Nov. 25: The Seldom Scene & Dry Branch Fire Squad
- Nov. 26: Mary Prankster “Pranksgiving 2022”
- Nov. 28: Chris Isaak
- Nov. 29 and Nov. 30: Musiq Soulchild
And then, in December:
- Dec. 1: Rick Springfield
- Dec. 2 and Dec. 3: Chris Botti
- Dec. 4: Dar Williams
- Dec. 8: Over the Rhine
- Dec. 9: Delvon Lamaar Organ Trio
- Dec. 10: Pieces of a Dream
- Dec. 11: Karla Bonoff & Livingston Taylor
- Dec. 12: Samatha Fish with the Jesse Dayton Band
- Dec. 13: Storm Large
- Dec. 15 and Dec. 16: Carbon Leaf
- Dec. 17: Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes
- Dec. 18: Luther Re-Lives – featuring William “Smooth” Wardlaw
- Dec. 20: Samara Joy
- Dec. 21: A John Waters Christmas
- Dec. 22: Maysa
- Dec. 23: Charles Esten with N’est Pas
- Dec. 29: Bela Dona Band
- Dec. 30: 25th Annual Hank Williams Tribute
- Dec. 31: New Years Eve