- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 17, 2008


The Bethesda Literary Festival

• Once again the Bethesda Urban Partnership coaxes writers of all stripes to downtown Bethesda for a three-day language jamboree from April 18 through 20. Events include discussions, signings, writing contests, a poetry slam and a children’s book party. Authors include reporters Helen Thomas and Marvin Kalb, novelist Alice Hoffman, poets Stanley Plumly and E. Ethelbert Miller, comedian Matt Kazam and more. See Lectures/Readings/Films. For a complete schedule, see www.bethesda.org.

The Big Band Jam

• Nostalgia, anyone? Now that Washington has wound up the bulk of the Dave Brubeck Festival and its warm memories of the heyday of American cultural diplomacy, here comes the Big Band Jam, designed to pluck some of those same strings. From April 18 through 27, concerts at Blues Alley, the U.S. State Department, the Voice of America auditorium, the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, Grace Episcopal Church and the Sylvan Theater on the Mall will explore big-band jazz in its glory. Featured ensembles range from the Children’s School of Music group from Moscow, playing at the State Department in a reminder of how well our jazzy diplomacy worked, to the U.S. Army Blues at Blues Alley. See Pop Music and Clubs: Blues Alley. For full details see www.bigbandjam.org.

Dance Is the Answer

• Dancers are not just sold on their profession’s ability to keep them healthy, fit, tuned in to life and socially engaged; they want to spread the joy. The result is the second year of Dance Is the Answer, an 11-day program of free dance classes, performances and more by 30 metro-area dance companies, studios, presenters and venues. The “answer” runs from April 25 through May 4, in sync with National Dance Week. For selected performances, see listings in Dance. For full details, see www.dancemetrodc.org

Historic Garden Week in Virginia

• Every spring the Garden Club of Virginia arranges for hundreds of gardens, homes and historic landmarks to open their doors so the public can drop in and see spring at its finest. This year, the Garden Week program marks its 75th anniversary from April 19 through 27 with walk-throughs of more than 250 properties from the Atlantic to the Alleghenies. Locally, tours are offered by garden clubs in Alexandria (April 19), Fauquier and Loudoun counties and Leesburg (April 20 and 21) and Fairfax and Great Falls (April 22). See listings in Nature. For complete information, see vagardenweek.org.


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. For the plays, see the Theater listings; for the rest, see Lectures/Readings/Films.

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.

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 that they set the pattern for years to come. Celebrating the anniversary through April 13 was a host of Washington cultural institutions; carrying on in April and May is the National Geographic Live! program “Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad” and the Meridian International Center’s exhibit “Jam Session: America’s Jazz Ambassadors Embrace the World,” which runs through July 13. See Pop Music and Galleries.

“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 opened March 26 and will run through late June. 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 “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, “The Happy Time” is up and running through June 1, 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 up: The free film series “Kander & Ebb at the Movies” offers a screening of “Funny Lady” on April 14, with other films to follow. Then look for “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.

The Papal visit

• Pope Benedict XVI’s two-day visit to the capital has not allowed for much of an up-close-and-personal experience: Even tickets to the Pope’s most public event, the Mass in Nationals Park at 10 a.m. April 17, were distributed long ago. But there’s always the Popemobile, and one more chance remains for ordinary folks to line the streets: At 6:15 p.m. April 17, Benedict will go by Popemobile from the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center at the Catholic University of America, 620 Michigan Ave. NE, the short distance to the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center, 3900 Harewood Road NE. See the Cultural Center listed under Museums, and for selected music programs associated with the visit, see Classical Music. For full details, see www.adw.org, www.nationalshrine.com and www.jp2cc.org.

Sweden rediscovered

• The Swedes, homebodies who call their embassy here the House of Sweden and revel in a landscape dotted with rust-red barns and cottages, want you to get to know their country. Their “Discover Sweden” program at the House of Sweden, 2900 K St. NW, features exhibits, cultural events, seminars, activities for children, concerts and workshops — all free and open to the public from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays through June 8. They also promise weekend programs for families throughout the two months. Among the events: a crash course in Swedish, a photo show on the country’s ubiquitous falu red paint, genealogy workshops and more. See Galleries and Lectures/Readings/Films. For complete information, see www.swedenabroad.com/washington.

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