We may already be in the final throes of summer, but there’s still enough time and opportunity left to savor some of the season’s most revered activities.
Chief among them, the allure of a quick evening getaway to enjoy great music — or smart comedy — performed live in a partially outdoor, open-air venue set amidst a lush, woodsy natural preserve.
And right on cue, this year’s end-of-summer lineup is particularly strong at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center, the venerated amphitheater located in the only national park dedicated to presenting the performing arts.
The Filene Center season officially ends two weeks after Labor Day, going out with a veritable bang, vocally speaking, with the launch of a new community choral festival.
Presented by Wolf Trap and The Washington Chorus, Joyfully Together: A Community-Powered Singing Celebration will feature a number of regional choirs — including the Gay Men’s Chorus and GenOUT Youth Chorus, the Alexandria Harmonizers, and the WPA Women, Men, and Children of the Gospel Choir — performing separately before coming together as a powerful unifying vocal force from a crowded stage plus sing-along moments also enlisting the 7,000-member audience, all led by the Washington Chorus’s Eugene Rogers (9/18).
But there’s a full schedule of shows before that capstone. The pre-Labor Day lineup includes an annual appearance by Mary Chapin Carpenter, returning to what she considers her hometown venue (Carpenter last played the venue in 2020, solo, guitar in hand, Filene Center empty, where she recorded the brilliant and mesmerizing One Night Lonely). The Saturday night bill includes another folk/Americana goddess who also cut her teeth in D.C.’s club scene, Emmylou Harris (8/27).
The following night, America’s favorite — and longest-lasting — surf-rock band, The Beach Boys led by Mike Love, celebrate “Sixty Years of the Sounds of Summer” (8/28).
Those who skip out on heading to the beach can get a jump start on the Labor Day weekend with the return of a gay icon and his reggae-tipped new wave band, Boy George & Culture Club (9/1), although the weekend proper belongs to another icon who also emerged as part of the British new wave in the early 1980s, back when Sting fronted The Police (9/2-4).
Post-Labor Day attractions include an already sold out show featuring entrancing Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison (9/7); the National Symphony Orchestra recruits two classical music giants, clarinetist/composer Paquito D’Rivera and cellist Yo-Yo Ma, to perform as featured soloists for a program of Gershwin, Bernstein, and D’Rivera, led by José Luis Gomez (9/8); a co-headlining show featuring the Wolf Trap debuts of LGBTQ ally/activist Patty Griffin, a two-time Grammy-winning artist known for gospel, folk, country, and pop songs, and sharp indie-folk/rock collaborator and Virginia-native Neko Case performing a hometown show (9/9); “An Evening with The Washington Ballet,” showcasing the company’s diverse range of talents with beloved works by the choreographic master George Balanchine plus originals by Silas Farley and Andile Ndlovu, all performed with live accompaniment by the Wolf Trap Orchestra (9/14); groundbreaking Mexican rock band Caifanes (9/15); a night of ’90s-minted sweet soul harmonies and occasionally swaggering grooves from headliners Boyz II Men, the sexy, savvy rulers of the airwaves back in the day, to an opening set by the blistering trio of ladies, SWV (9/16); and the return of Sir Tom Jones, one of the most popular vocalists of the ’60s British Invasion (9/17).
The Filene Center at Wolf Trap is at 1551 Trap Road in Vienna, Va. Ticket prices vary. Visit www.wolftrap.org or call 877-WOLFTRAP.
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