- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 27, 2008

COMING UP

The Brubeck Festival: Celebrating the “real” ambassadors

• Fifty years ago, jazz pianist Dave Brubeck and three other jazz musicians began a new chapter in diplomacy: Sponsored by the U.S. State Department, they took their music to Eastern Europe, Asia and the Middle East in an effort to bridge a cultural divide. They were not the first — Dizzy Gillespie had toured the Middle East in 1956 with the same goal — but they were so successful, they set the pattern for years to come. Celebrating the anniversary from April 8 to 13 this year, in cooperation with the University of the Pacific’s Brubeck Institute, are some top-tier Washington cultural institutions: the Kennedy Center, the Smithsonian Associates, the Library of Congress, George Washington University, the Meridian International Center and the National Endowment for the Arts, most of them with public programs. See Pop Music, Galleries and Lectures/Readings/Films. For full details, see www.brubeckfestival.com.

National Cherry Blossom Festival

• The annual celebration of the Tidal Basin cherry trees presented to the United States by Japan in 1912. First held in 1935, today it offers more than two weeks’ worth (March 29-April 13) of events focused on Japan and the beginning of spring. The gala opens with the 42nd annual Smithsonian Kite Festival on March 29, goes razzle-dazzle with fireworks on April 5 and climaxes with the Cherry Blossom Festival Parade on April 12. Only the highlights are included here; for a fully detailed, interactive schedule call 877/44BLOOM or see www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org.

National Cherry Blossom Festival: The 42nd annual Smithsonian Kite Festival

• “Brush Strokes in the Sky.” A Chinese-themed festival this year with a display on the history of Chinese kites as well as the traditional Hot Trick Competition, the “Field of Colors” ground display of flags and banners by participating kite clubs, and the Japanese-style midair competition called the Rokkaku Challenge. Washington Monument Grounds, Constitution Avenue and 17th Street NW. Metro: Farragut West (Blue/Orange lines). 10 a.m.-4 p.m. March 29. Free. 202/633-3030, www.kitefestival.org

National Cherry Blossom Festival: The Parade

• With Miss America 2008; “Sesame Street” favorites; 11 marching bands, including the District’s Dunbar and Ballou high schools and Silver Spring’s James Herbert Blake High School; dancers and drummers; Cherry Blossom queens; tap dancers; youth choir; balloons, floats, horses, antique cars, clowns, mascots.

• Constitution Avenue between Seventh and 17th streets NW. Start at 10 a.m. April 12. Rain or shine; in case of inclement weather, check with 877/44BLOOM. Metro: Smithsonian (Orange/Blue lines), Federal Triangle (Orange/Blue), Archives/Navy Memorial (Yellow/Green). Metro alternates: Metro Center (Red/Blue/Orange), Gallery Place/Chinatown (Green/Yellow/Red).

• Reserved grandstand bleacher seating on Constitution Avenue between 15th and 16th streets NW $15 through Ticketmaster.com. First-come-first-served spaces on Constitution Avenue between Seventh and 17th streets free. Crowds begin to arrive 9 a.m.

National Cherry Blossom Festival: Other highlights

• Family Day. Hands-on exploration of Japanese arts and design. Martial arts demonstrations; traditional Japanese children’s dances and music; origami sculpting; Japanese dress-up; District performers. National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. Metro: Judiciary Square (Red line). 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. March 29. Free.

• Opening Ceremony. Washington dignitaries and performances by Kenny Endo, Japan’s Tateshina High School Jazz Club and Howard University Jazz Ensemble. National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. Metro: Judiciary Square (Red line). 4-5:30 p.m. March 29. Free.

• Cherry Blossom Regatta. An all-class, handicapped regatta. Washington Sailing Marina, 1 Marina Drive, George Washington Parkway, Alexandria. Best views from the marina and around Hains Point (East Potomac Park). Closest Metro to Hains Point: Smithsonian (Blue/Orange lines). Noon-5 p.m. April 5. Free.

• Prelude to the Fireworks. A 3½-hour musical entertainment before the fireworks includes performances by the U.S. Army Band and the U.S. Navy Sea Chanters. Sailboat demonstrations, mock pirates, refreshments. Southwest Waterfront Park at 600 Water St. SW. Metro: Waterfront-SEU (Green/Yellow lines). 5-8:30 p.m. April 5. Free.

• Fireworks Show. Southwest Waterfront, Seventh Street and Maine Avenue SW. Best viewing: East Potomac Park or Southwest Waterfront promenade. Metro: Waterfront-SEU (Green/Yellow lines). 8:30-9 p.m. April 5. Free.

• Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten-Mile Run. Thousands take part in the Ten-Mile Run, the 5k Run Walk and the 1k Kids Run. Washington Monument Grounds (15th Street and Jefferson Drive NW). Metro: Smithsonian (Blue/Orange lines); Metro Center (Blue/Orange/Red) and L’Enfant Plaza (Green/Yellow/Blue/Orange). 7:45 a.m.-noon April 6. Spectators free.

• Lantern Lighting Ceremony. The 355-year-old stone lantern is lit. Traditional Japanese performers, Washington dignitaries, Cherry Blossom princesses. Tidal Basin at Independence Avenue and 17th Street SW. Metro: Smithsonian (Blue/Orange line). 2:30-4 p.m. April 6. Free.

• Twentieth annual George Washington Invitational Regatta. Some of the nation’s top crews compete in one of the premier regattas on the East Coast. Thompson Boat Center, Washington Harbor, Potomac River. Metro: Foggy Bottom-GWU (Blue/Orange lines). Noon-5 p.m. April 11; 8 a.m.-5 p.m. April 12. Free to spectators.

• Sakura Matsuri — Japanese Street Festival. The nation’s largest one-day exhibition of Japanese culture follows the parade. Food vendors, beer garden; arts and crafts exhibits; Japanese and Asian products; the new J-POP Land highlighting Japan’s popular culture; martial arts demonstrations; live performances of both traditional and popular Japanese culture. Pennsylvania Avenue between 14th and 10th streets NW, and 12th Street between Pennsylvania and Constitution avenues. Metro: Federal Triangle (Blue/Orange lines). 11 a.m.-6 p.m. April 12.

CONTINUING

Arthur Miller Festival

• Arena Stage and Theater J’s tribute to a giant of American dramatic literature is at its peak, with Theater J’s “The Price” on the boards now through April 18 and Arena’s repertory twins, “Death of a Salesman” and “A View From the Bridge,” running through May 18. Rounding out the celebration are film screenings, discussions and readings, most of them free or pay-what-you-can, at a range of venues through May 19. This week, look for a post-matinee discussion and readings at Theater J on March 30 and April 1 and an Arena Stage “salon” conversation March 31. For the plays, see the Theater listings; for the rest, see Lectures/Readings/Films.

August Wilson’s 20th Century

• When he died in 2005, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson left behind a cycle of plays chronicling the black experience in America in each of the 10 decades of the past century. In “August Wilson’s 20th Century,” the Kennedy Center has brought them together for the first time, presenting the plays in order of their decade in a five-week repertory marathon of staged readings in the Terrace Theater. Opening this week: “King Hedley II” and “Radio Golf” — whose final performance on April 6 will wrap up the tribute. See Theater listings for the complete cycle and Lectures/Readings/Films for associated discussions.

Baltimore Festival of Maps

• “You are here, hon.” That’s Charm City’s way of welcoming visitors to the three-month-long Baltimore Festival of Maps, a joint effort of the Baltimore Cultural Development Council and 34 Baltimore area cultural organizations. They want you to know about the many ways we can chart our lives. Centerpiece and admitted inspiration is the Walters Art Museum’s ambitious “Maps: Finding Our Place in the World” exhibit, which opened March 16 and runs through June 8. Other collaborators — among them the Maryland Science Center, the Contemporary Museum and the Maryland Historical Society — offer map-related exhibits and community mapping events through June 8. For the Walters and other museums, see the Museums listings; for the full schedule, see baltimorefestivalofmaps.com.

“China: An Incomparable Journey”

• The Smithsonian Associates showcase Chinese culture, history, arts, politics and August’s Beijing Olympics through a three-month-long program of 20 presentations, workshops and events that open this month and run through late June. The series premiered March 26 with a dance performance at the National Museum of Natural History. This week it takes in the Smithsonian Kite Festival, the opening event in the National Cherry Blossom Festival, on March 29. Later events include a lecture at the Chinese Embassy (photo ID required, please). See Dance, Festivals and Lectures/Readings/Films. For complete information, see www.smithsonianassociates.org.

Francophonie Festival 2008

• “La Journee internationale de la Francophonie” fell on 20 mars — March 20 to Yanks — around the world, but in Washington, where the Smithsonian Associates have joined with the Francophonie Committee to celebrate the French-speaking world, the festival runs for a month. Art exhibits, music, film and, of course, conferences and discussions in French, run through April 18. Highlights include the cabaret sound of French singer Charlotte Marin on the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage on April 9, and the “zoblazo” rhythms of Meiway, the breakthrough singer from Cote d’Ivoire, at the Lincoln Theatre on April 18. See Pop Music listings; for a full festival schedule, see www.francophoniedc.org.

Kander & Ebb Celebration

• Signature Theatre continues its four-month salute to the Broadway songwriting partners John Kander and Fred Ebb. “Kiss of the Spider Woman” runs through April 20 and, in the Mead Theatre lobby at Signature, an exhibit called “Colored Lights” spotlights materials and artifacts of the duo’s writing partnership through June 22. Coming soon: “Kander & Ebb at the Movies,” kicking off with a screening of “New York, New York” on March 31. Following that are “The Happy Time,” “The Visit,” more song, dance, screening and conversation, all of it at the theater in Arlington. See listings for Theater, Stage, Galleries and Lectures/Readings/Films and check back for more events through June.

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