Inside the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall & Arts Center, works of art grow like flowers in a greenhouse. Amid the Mary Collier Baker Theater’s rich wood paneling and burgundy upholstery, symphony concerts burst to life, fed by stunning acoustics. The Margaret W. and Joseph L. Fisher Art Gallery, on the other hand, lets the work hanging on the walls do the talking, trumpeting the skills of local visionaries as they explore the bounds of aesthetic media.
The Hershey Theatre, conceived in 1933 by noted philanthropist and chocolatier Milton S. Hershey, stands as an opulent tribute to the performing arts. Taking architectural cues from Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice, the foyer’s towering arches gleam with golden paint and crystal chandeliers. The blue-and-gold mosaic that leads to the main seating area is the masterwork of two German artists who spent two years on its construction. Once inside the theater, audiences might think they’ve stepped onto the streets of Venice thanks to the atmospheric ceiling, stonework facades, and gondoliers paddling them to their seats. ####Bethel Woods Center for the Arts Music has permeated the 800 manicured acres where the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts has stood since 1969, when farmer Max Yasgur agreed to let love, peace, and harmony grow wild at the very first Woodstock festival. These days, the renowned outdoor venue and cultural center continues to attract the biggest acts in music to its pavilion stage. The open-air design ensures ample ventilation on the natural sloping lawn, and a roof protects up to 15,000 fans from inclement weather and the prying eyes of Cessna pilots.
When the Rolling Stones wanted a chorus to sing with them during their last gig on their "50 and Counting" tour, they knew who to call: The Washington Chorus. That unexpected melding of talent is a testament to the group's stellar reputation—the Grammy-winning ensemble is noted for its ability to engage a wide range of audiences. And they've done just that for more than 50 seasons, delighting ears with a repertoire of classical masterpieces and modern compositions. Equally committed to enriching their community, the chorus performs free concerts throughout the greater D.C. area, sponsors a junior choir, and gently corrects anyone who misspells "requiem."
One of the oldest symphonic choruses in DC, Choral Arts has sung alongside the National Symphony Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, and the Mariinsky Orchestra (among others), before 100,000 people in Red Square after the fall of communism and as carolers on The West Wing.
Along with regularly airing the masters, the National Symphony Orchestra has commissioned more than 60 original works, and regularly provides educational opportunities and exhibitions to aspiring composers, conductors, and musicians. Since 1986, the symphony has been a stalwart affiliate of The Kennedy Center and puts on as many as 175 performances there annually. Seven crystal chandeliers presented by Norway to The Kennedy Center dangle below the concert hall's intricate acoustical canopy and stare down the organ standing sentry at the back of the stage.
"So You Think You Can Sing Opera" gives amateur aria-artists an opportunity to spread their lungs and take flight in front of a live audience. These open auditions for future productions by the Baltimore Concert Opera showcase the area's untapped operatic ability, with performers (hopefully) soaring their way through seminal pieces from the operatic canon—think American Idol, except with fewer power ballads and more Puccini. Dress code for the event is business casual, so dust off your opera glasses and opera Foam-Dome and enjoy an evening of high notes and high pressure with today's Groupon.