- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 17, 2008

A song in your heart, a poem in your pocket

Since 2002, a new rite of spring has taken hold in New York: On a specific date in April, poetry fans grab a copy of their favorite poem and stuff it in a pocket, pulling it out to share with others during the day. The Library of Congress has caught on and celebrates Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 17 in the Madison Building’s Pickford Theater. The open-mike event features poetry readings by anyone who can show a published poem (not his or her own) at the door to the theater. It’s part of the Poetry at Noon series, and it’s free. See Lectures/Readings/Films. For background on the day, see www.poets.org.

African-Americans on Lafayette Square

The folks who run Decatur House on Jackson Place NW have always shown a keen sense of their own structure’s place in the neighborhood and in American history. They prove it again with The Half Had Not Been Told Me: African Americans on Lafayette Square (1795-1965), an exhibit exploring the lives of blacks around the neighborhood of the White House. The show opens April 23 and runs through March 1, 2009. Two factors set it apart: It’s timed to the 145th anniversary year of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, and it’s installed in the house’s Gadsby Wing, the property’s former slave quarters. See Museums.

Dance tracks

Leine and Roebana, the Dutch dance, troupe founded and run by Andrea Leine and Harijono Roebana, is noted for the demanding physicality of its work. It performs “Sporen,” or “Tracks,” at Dance Place on April 19 and 20. See Dance.

Sacred echoes

Pope Benedict XVI will be in New York by the time the Choir of the Cathedral of St. Julien du Mans, of Le Mans, France, begins its Washington engagements, so think of its work as an echo of the papacy. That’s not hard to do because the choir, founded in 1348, specializes in Gregorian chant and traditional Roman Catholic sacred music. It will sing first on April 18 at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, then on April 20 at the Crypt in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. See Classical Music.

No apologies

Chris Rock doesn’t call his current round of performances the “No Apologies” tour for nothing. Look for the foul-mouthed stand-up comic to trash rock stars, politicians and entire races with equal abandon and no regrets. He pulls in to DAR Constitution Hall April 18 for three nights of laughs. See Comedy.

Reveling in spring

The Washington Revels take advantage of Shakespeare’s 444th birthday, April 23, to stage their annual tribute to the season, Shakespeare’s Spring Revels, at the Harman Center for the Arts. True to the Revels’ custom, they’ll cover not just the music of Shakespeare’s time, but everything from the Italian Renaissance to American Appalachian tradition. It’s part of the Happenings at the Harman series, and boxed lunches are available. See Classical Music.

Shakespeare and history

When it comes to Shakespeare’s birthday, the Folger Shakespeare Library will not be outdone. It leads up to its giant April 27 birthday open house with its annual Shakespeare’s birthday lecture. This year, Alan Stewart, professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University, will speak on How Shakespeare Made History. That’s at 8 p.m. April 21, and it’s free. See Lectures/Readings/Films.

20th-century masters

The Baltimore Museum of Art boasts an unusually rich collection of French art from the late 19th and early 20th centuries and shows it off in Bonnard and Vuillard, which opens April 23. Through five paintings; three drawings; and more than 30 lithographs, etchings, posters and illustrated books by Pierre Bonnard and Edouard Vuillard, the BMA explores the duo’s change in style as they moved from one century to the next. The show runs through Aug. 10. See Museums.

Pandas in the wild

The Smithsonian Resident Associates is piggybacking on the summer Olympics with its series “China: An Incomparable Journey.” On April 17, it turns over the S. Dillon Ripley Center to William McShea, wildlife ecologist and research scientist for the National Zoo’s Conservation and Research Center in Front Royal, Va., for an illustrated lecture on Wildlife of China: Endangered Treasures. Mr. McShea will discuss his experiences in the Sichuan reserves, with a focus on the giant panda. See the listing in Lectures/Readings/Films. For details, see www.smithsonianassociates.org.

Freedom codes

A powerful musical combo moves into the Kennedy Center Concert Hall on April 20 for Let My People Go! A Spiritual Journey Along the Underground Railroad. Donald McCullough directs the Master Chorale of Washington, the Morgan State University Choir and soloists Angela Powell, Marietta Simpson and Morris Robinson in spirituals and readings that reveal those tunes’ “freedom codes” — the veiled allusions to stars or earthly landmarks that helped fleeing slaves navigate their way north. See Classical Music.

The spirit of Scotia

Ever wonder what makes the Scots tick? The musicians of the Folger Consort give some hints in a triple-barreled program of seminar, concert and discussion at the Folger Shakespeare Library from April 17 through 20. The focus is on Highland Ayres, the consort’s concert of medieval Scottish accounts of battle, songs from the 16th and 17th centuries, Scottish music for pipes and fiddle, and music from the French allies of the Scots. Performances are on April 18, 19 and 20. They’re preceded on April 17 with a seminar on the music led by Folger Consort Artistic Director Robert Eisenstein, and amplified on April 18 by a pre-concert discussion. See Classical Music.

The legend

He’s such a folk-music icon that a crowd of other folk-music icons will stage a tribute to him in a couple of weeks. While everyone is waiting, why not see Tom Paxton on his own? The legend, who makes his home in Alexandria, was in on the very beginnings of the roots movement in the 1960s. He’ll take the stage at the Barns of Wolf Trap on April 17. See Pop Music.


Monteverdi’s Vespers, the “Vespro della Beata Vergine” of 1610 is among the most sublime works for chorus of any sacred work known. Tackling it at the Music Center at Strathmore on April 17 is a panoply of voices under the direction of Robert Shafer: the City Choir of Washington, the Blue Ridge Chorus, the Shenandoah Conservatory Choir, the Children’s Chorus of Washington and seven soloists. They’ll all be placed strategically throughout the concert hall for what could be a 4-D experience. See Classical Music.

Tom Dooley’s back

Fifty-one years after the Kingston Trio got together, the folk group by that name is still going strong — though of course the original members are either retired or will never return. The current trio plays two shows at the Rams Head Tavern in Annapolis on April 19. See Pop Music.

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