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Losing My Mind: A Celebration of Sondheim
Stephen Sondheim turned 90 at the onset of the pandemic, and many of Broadway’s bests saluted the living legend and his vast musical theater repertoire in one of the first, and arguably best, virtual concerts of the pandemic. Now, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington is putting its own spin on the concept, a toast to Sondheim as well as to the group’s own anniversary. The virtual cabaret will kick off the GMCW’s 40th anniversary season by featuring over 20 soloists from the organization’s ranks to perform Sondheim standards, no doubt many rendered with a funny gay twist. Selections include “The Ladies Who Lunch,” “Marry Me A Little,” “Somewhere,” “Being Alive,” “More,” “(Not) Getting Married Today,” and the Follies showstopper that serves as the unlikely, yet timely, title for the show, “Losing My Mind.” Artistic Director Thea Kano will lead the program with musical accompaniment from Alex Tang and Jeff Hamlin. Saturday, Oct. 17, at 7 p.m. Free, but registration required.
The chorus will continue its 40th anniversary season in December with its annual holiday show, an all-digital affair including its best hits from previous seasons as well as a virtual holiday sing-a-long. After that, in March of 2021, comes a virtual rendering of Genderosity, the glam-rock spectacle “celebrating the phenomenal spectrum of gender expression” that was to premiere on stage at the Lincoln Theatre last March before becoming one of the first COVID-19 casualties. The season-long anniversary celebration wouldn’t be complete without a concert specifically focused on turning the big 4-0. Next June offers the debut of a virtual package consisting of archival footage from the past 40 years plus “new digital recordings,” among them the performance of a “brand new anthem written especially for GMCW for our 40th anniversary,” titled “Harmony’s Never Too Late!” Specific dates and additional details, including registration links, will be announced later for each event. Visit www.gmcw.org.
Voice Your Vote: A Virtual Concert
The City Winery chain of concert venues, including the multi-story complex in D.C.’s Ivy City neighborhood, presents a digital concert and call to action this Sunday, Oct. 18. Led by Brittany Howard of the Alabama Shakes, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert‘s bandleader Jon Batiste, Rhiannon Giddens of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, D.C.-born lesbian funk artist and composer Toshi Reagon, and Valerie June, the virtual concert was curated by June and inspired by the eclectic and acclaimed singer-songwriter’s “Young, Gifted & Black” playlist — which was in turn inspired by and named after the famous Nina Simone tune. The show is touted as one that “will crystalize the urgency of the causes dear to the hearts of Black American artists around the country in an effort to drive our audience to the polls, and to support the fight against voter disenfranchisement.” Net proceeds from the event go to the elections-focused organization Fair Fight and Movement Voter Project’s Black-Led Organizing Fund, benefiting 41 groups across the country working on voter mobilization efforts.
The concert’s full lineup also includes Lizz Wright, Kandace Springs, Allison Russell, Son Little, Amythyst Kiah, Black Pumas, Chastity Brown, Deva Mahal, Devon Gilfillian, Jason Reynolds, Leyla McCalla, the Resistance Revival Chorus (accompanying Giddens), and Ruth B. It’s presented as part of City Winery’s exclusive CWTV series powered by Mandolin, a new livestream platform that offers what has been called “industry-leading concert-quality audio” and full HD video. Sunday, Oct. 18, at 6 p.m. A link to the livestream costs $15, or $60 for ticket including “CW Custom Voice Your Vote Wine.” Visit www.citywinery.com/washingtondc.
Concerts from the Library of Congress
You won’t be surprised to hear that the upcoming season of “Concerts from the Library of Congress” will be an all-virtual affair. There are, of course, distinct advantages to such a move online, chief among them the fact that these free concerts, traditionally limited by theater capacity and fully booked shortly after being announced, will instead be available for any and all who are interested to enjoy at any time online. Another silver lining is the fact that viewers can sample complementary materials from the library’s collections while they enjoy the concerts, and also take in related curator talks and conversations with featured artists and composers. Plus, the library has also launched a new LibGuide resource featuring footage from past concerts and other archival materials.
The series kicks off Friday, Oct. 23, with a collaboration between piano and composer Conrad Tao in partnership with tap dancer Caleb Teicher. Counterpoints combines both composed and improvised music and dance, including J.S. Bach’s “Goldberg Variations.” Other fall concerts, all of which will be made available at 8 p.m. on the scheduled premiere date, include the Tambuco Percussion Ensemble, a world-renowned quartet performing new works by Mexican, Uruguayan, and Costa Rican composers (Oct. 30); Ensemble dal Niente, a 24-member ensemble from Chicago who will perform music by leading Latin American composers plus a new library commission from Igor Santos (Nov. 13); and violinist Jennifer Koh and pianist Thomas Sauer performing two commissions from the library, Julia Wolfe’s “Mink Stole” and George Lewis’ “The Mangle of Practice,” as well as recent works for solo violin (Nov. 19). The Takács Quartet will kick off the “(Re)Hearing Beethoven” festival — a celebration of Ludwig van Beethoven’s 250th birthday featuring performances of all nine symphonies as transcribed and performed by solo or duo artists as well as chamber ensembles, plus related artifacts — with a performance of Beethoven’s Op. 132 framed by works of Bartók and Schubert, plus a lecture from violinist Edward Dusinberre, “Beethoven at a Later Age: The Journey of a String Quartet” (Nov. 20). Visit www.loc.gov/concerts.
Lived Experience: Reflections on LGBTQ Life
Delphine Diallo, a Brooklyn-based French and Senegalese visual artist and photographer, has captured LGBTQ people and communities around the world, including Russia, Mexico, and Japan, in a groundbreaking series of photobooks. Her latest, just published by The New Press, features 50 full-color portraits and profiles of LGBTQ people over the age of 50 from across the United States. (Diallo interviewed them last year during the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.) With a special focus on people of color, the diverse and resilient cohort of baby boomers experienced great loss and tragedy living through the AIDS epidemic but also helped usher in extraordinary progress in LGBTQ rights, visibility, and acceptance. “The journeys of the people in this book show the beauty of life — from overcoming loneliness, pain, sadness, and loss — to accepting who they really are and acknowledging their strength and determination when it comes to the way they have chosen to live,” Diallo is quoted in the book’s press release.
These gay elders share their stories, reflections, and advice for younger generations, such as that from subject Evelyn Whitaker: “My advice to the younger generation is to live your life with as much passion and as much indulgence as you possibly can. Do not do anything to anyone that you would not have done to yourself. Just live life as a wonderful, wonderful experience.” The book includes an introduction by Tim R. Johnston of SAGE and a foreword by Juan Battle of the City University of New York. Available in paperback or as an e-book. Visit www.thenewpress.com.
Hillwood’s Natural Beauties
A renowned collector, Marjorie Merriweather Post’s interest in gems and minerals wasn’t limited to their use in wearable fashion and personal ornamentation. Currently on display at Hillwood — Post’s grand estate nestled in the leafy, hilly Van Ness area of Upper Northwest — is a selection of nearly 100 objects and works of art made using precious or semi-precious stones and minerals, a number of them created by master artisans commissioned by Post herself. Heiress to the Post Cereal Company, Post was a pioneering, prominent female corporate executive, cultural philanthropist, and luxury design proponent in the mid-20th century whose passion for art, beauty, and the finer things in life is memorialized at Hillwood.
Among a collection renowned for works of French and Russian provenance, there’s Post’s famous Fabergé (eggs and more) series, of which more than 20 were crafted out of hardstone materials such as jade, agate, and onyx, including a Fabergé snuffbox fashioned from gold, diamonds, emeralds, and amethyst quartz. Post also commissioned a distinctive assortment of frames, ashtrays, desk sets, and bell pushes from Cartier. This line of exquisite art deco objets d’art, finely crafted out of various hardstones and ornamented with enamel and precious stones, is largely held in storage but explored as a collection on display exclusively for Natural Beauties. The exhibit also features a selection of Hillwood’s Chinese jades and gems, and what is billed as “probably the most imposing mosaic [table] top ever produced by a Florentine workshop,” an intricately designed pietra dura made of eleven different stones that now adorns the stately dining room at Hillwood — but originally commissioned in the 1920s by Post to take pride of place at her Palm Beach residence, a certain Mar-a-Lago. On display through Jan. 1, 2021. Advanced, timed-entry reservations are required for proper social distancing. Hillwood is at 4155 Linnean Ave. NW. Tickets are $15 to $18. Call 202-686-5807 or visit www.HillwoodMuseum.org.
Monuments: Creative Forces
Be Steadwell, the Black “queer pop” musician, filmmaker, and storyteller, is currently being celebrated at Strathmore along with five other regional artists, all of whom are heralded as advancing their community for work that facilitates cultural connections and addresses social issues in fundamental and essential ways. Monuments: Creative Forces is a site-specific outdoor art installation by Australian artist Craig Walsh in which moving images transform the trees surrounding Strathmore’s 16-acre campus into sculptural creations portraying the visages of six artists chosen by a panel of community and arts leaders.
In addition to Steadwell, the installation features Daryl Davis, a Black “piano peace maker” and author who has helped persuade more than 200 Ku Klux Klan members renounce racist ideology; Terron Cooper Sorrells, a young Black artist whose paintings of determinedly resilient African-American slaves has earned him comparisons to Romare Bearden and Jacob Lawrence; Marjan Naderi, an 18-year-young Muslim Afghan American poet and spoken-word artist whose works touch on feminism, politics, culture, and family dynamics; C. Brian Williams, founder and executive director of the boundary-pushing dance company Step Afrika; and Yoko K. Sen, a classically trained musician creating ambient electronic music designed for hospitals through her company Sen Sound.
On display starting at sunset every day (weather permitting) through Oct. 25. “Reimagining Monuments,” a special panel discussion on Zoom with Walsh, C. Brian Williams, and Daryl Davis, plus a performance by poet Marjan Naderi, is set for Monday, Oct. 19, at 7 p.m. Tickets are pay-what-you-can, with suggested prices of $10 or $20, for both the exhibition — with admittance by timed-entry — and the Zoom discussion. Contactless on-site, day-of exhibition tickets limited by availability. Visit www.strathmore.org.
Bethesda Row Arts Festival
It’s been billed as the area’s largest outdoor fine arts festival and is also reputed to be one of the nation’s best. But you’ll have to wait until next year for the full Bethesda Row Arts Festival experience, with artists set up on a blocked-off street downtown in the Montgomery County suburb. This year, organizers have sprung for a greatest hits virtual display, featuring a selection of artists from past juried shows along with the opportunity to purchase their works, which span artistic disciplines ranging from wearable fabrics to woodworking, drawings to sculpture. The main page of the festival’s website features a directory with links to works by all 170 represented artists, whose works can be searched by artistic discipline and locale, as well as by those available to “BUY NOW” online.
The showcase features artists from around the country, chief among them the 15 deemed by jurors as the Best representatives at last year’s 22nd annual event, including Best in Show awardee Richard Wilson (drawing/pastels) and Best in Discipline honorees Bashar Jarjour and Roula Jarjour (ceramics), Christos J. Palios (photography), David Russell (glass), Doug Meyer of Rustbelt Rebirth (Metalwork), Gary Stretar (oil/acrylic), JD Dennison LLC (digital art), Jeffrey Cannon (drawing/pastels), Jonathan Metzger and Allison Metzger of Midnight Oil Studio & Workshop (graphics & printmaking), Jupi Das (mixed media 2D), Kevin Scheimreif of Steel & Grain (mixed media 3D), Larry Ringgold of Turtlepoint Driftwood LLC (sculpture), Maritza Newman of Maritza Silk Design (fiber-wearable), Pam Kessler of P.A. Kessler Studio (watercolor), and Sheko Kirby & Sarkis Chouljian of nyeari (jewelry). Through Oct. 31. Visit www.bethesdarowarts.org.
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