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National Chamber Ensemble 2022 holiday cheer concert (courtesy of National Chamber Ensemble)

(Updated at 9:20 p.m.) The annual holiday concert from Arlington-based National Chamber Ensemble will feature two talented guest musicians, including a 13-year-old piano prodigy.

The concert is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. next Saturday, Dec. 16, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington (4444 Arlington Blvd). It will open with the holiday classic “Sleigh Ride” by Leroy Anderson, culminating in a festive carol sing-along toward the end.

General admission tickets are priced at $20 for students and $40 for all other attendees.

Headlining the event is Grammy-nominated violinist Dylana Jenson, 62, who in 1978 became the first American woman and the youngest musician — at age 17 — to win a silver medal in the prestigious Russian International Tchaikovsky Competition for young-adult pianists, violinists and cellists.

Joining Jenson is 13-year-old piano prodigy William Hsieh from Bethesda. Last week, Hsieh won first-prize in the National Chamber Ensemble (NCE) annual young artist competition.

The competition attracts pianists aged 12 to 19 from the D.C. area and offers three prizes. The top winner receives a scholarship, a crystal trophy and the chance to perform with the ensemble at its Dec. 16 concert.

“We were so impressed with this year’s outstanding talent,” NCE Artistic Director Leo Sushansky said in a press release. “The winner, William Hsieh, really stood out with such dynamic playing [that] exhibited lots of personality and refinement.”

“He will bring added excitement to the evening, which I am sure will be one of the highlights of the concert,” Sushansky continued.

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Chabad Lubavitch of Alexandria-Arlington’s menorah lighting in 2015 (via Chabad Lubavitch of Alexandria-Arlington/Facebook)

Menorah lights are set to brighten up Arlington after Hanukkah begins next Friday.

On Sunday, Dec. 10 at 5 p.m., Chabad Lubavitch of Alexandria-Arlington, a local branch of the global Jewish outreach organization, will light its “giant 9-foot Menorah.”

The annual event will take place at Chabad’s community center at 1307 N. Highland Street in Clarendon.

The celebrations extend to Monday, Dec. 11, with another giant menorah lighting at 5:30 p.m. at Metropolitan Park (1330 S. Fair Street), close to Amazon’s second headquarters in Pentagon City.

Both events will have “lively Chanukah music” to set the festive mood, according to their respective event descriptions. Attendees can indulge in hot potato latkes, hot cocoa, donuts and chocolate gelt. They will also receive a complimentary dreidel.

Admission is free but registration is required, as reservations are open until each event reaches capacity.

“Security will be present” at both events, Chabad Lubavitch noted.

The menorah-lighting tradition, a fixture for over a decade, often draws local officials. Previously, the events were held at the Pentagon Row ice skating rink and outside the Clarendon Metro station.

Photo via Chabad Lubavitch of Alexandria-Arlington/Facebook

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Arlington Chorale December 2022 concert at Westover Baptist Church (courtesy of Dennis Pitman)

The Arlington Chorale is gearing up to bring a long-lost musical piece to life at its holiday concert next Saturday in Westover.

The community choir plans to perform familiar classics, including “Good King Wenceslas” and “Gloria.” However, it is also adding what it says is a rarely performed composition to its repertoire: ‘The Ballad of the Brown King.”

Composed by African-American composer Margaret Bonds, the ballad was first performed in New York in December 1954. It tells the story of Balthazar, one of the Three Wise Men in the Nativity story, who is described in some biblical translations as “dark or Black,” says Ingrid Lestrud, the choir conductor.

“As this work premiered in 1954 before the Civil Rights movement, it was a pretty radical idea to have a Black man as the main figure of a 25-minute piece for choir and orchestra,” Lestrud told ARLnow.

Although one Early Middle Ages saint describes Balthazar as having “black complexion,” it was not until the end of the 15th century that artists regularly depicted Balthazar with darker skin.

During the concert, slated for 5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 9, at the Westover Baptist Church, Scott Edwin Taylor, director of The Black Heritage Museum of Arlington, and Saundra Green, a local Arlington resident, will also discuss the history of the song and share their insight about the hurdles Bonds faced as a Black female composer before the Civil Rights era.

“It was not performed often during the composer’s lifetime — probably because it was difficult for Black women to convince conductors to program their music — but her pieces are starting to be performed more now that conductors are trying to program a more diverse range of composers,” Lestrud said.

A conductor and educator, Lestrud has served on the staff of several ensembles in the D.C. area, including the National Children’s Chorus, Capital City Symphony and Encore Creativity for Older Adults. She has led the Arlington Chorale since 2019, per the press release.

The 60-member local, nonprofit chorus was first established in 1966 and both women and men sing in the ensemble. Over the years, it has performed at a number of significant regional events, including the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 2018 at Nationals Park.

After a several-year hiatus due to Covid, the choir made a comeback to the local music scene last year.

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Starting today, all 11 food vendors and restaurants within Crystal City Water Park are officially open for business, following a soft opening two weeks ago.

Morning to night, the 1.6-acre outdoor food hall and park in Crystal City will serve everything from indulgent duck-fat fried chicken sandwiches to Indian-style crepes filled with lentils and chutney to gelato.

The kiosks include:

Perched atop a water wall at the back of the park, meanwhile, is the cocktail and oyster bar Water Bar.

Operated by Atlanta-based hospitality group STHRN, the restaurant offers light lunch and dinner options, ranging from salads, seafood sandwiches and oysters to ceviche and specialty cocktails.

For something more casual, STHRN operates a New York-style pizzeria that serves beer, wine and cocktails, called Crush Pizza.

The park’s owner, JBG Smith, aimed to provide a comprehensive dining experience from breakfast through dessert, Amy Rice, the company’s senior vice president of retail leasing, tells ARLnow.

“We were really deliberate in wanting to make sure we could create a bit of an 18-hour offering,” she said.

At the park’s grand opening tonight, attendees can sample from nine newly opened restaurant kiosks, a sit-down seafood restaurant and bar or a new pizza place, all while listening to music. A month-long live concert series kicks off next Friday.

The kiosks are home to several minority- and women-owned businesses that were “having a hard time making the jump from a farmers market or food truck into a traditional brick and mortar,” Rice said.

“Typically, if you were a retail-like, fast-casual restaurant, and you wanted to start a new restaurant in a new building, it would probably be upwards of a million-dollar-plus investment to actually get your business up and running in that location,” Rice said. “We removed both of those barriers by creating these turnkey kiosks for these operators.”

Those looking for recommendations can try Water Bar’s “Middle Ground” cocktail, a Mezcal-based drink with tepache, made from fermented pineapple, and grapefruit, lime and peppercorn. At Crush Pizza, the mushroom lemon cream pizza was memorable.

Live music performances from 5-7:30 p.m. will start at the venue next Friday, Oct. 13, and run through Nov. 3. A performance by Virginia native R&B artist Bryan Lee will kick the inaugural concert.

“This series is just the first of many engaging Water Park events that will celebrate our diverse and growing downtown,” Tracy Sayegh Gabriel, president and executive director of the National Landing Business Improvement District, said in a press release.

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Clarendon Day (file photo)

Several events are scheduled to take place across Arlington on Saturday, bringing both festivities and road closures.

The events celebrate everything from the neighborhood of Clarendon to Bavarian and Irish culture.

Clarendon Day

Kicking off at 11 a.m., Clarendon Day will offer live music, food, craft beer, Virginia wines, art and inflatable obstacle courses. The event, which is one of Arlington’s largest street festivals, ends at 6 p.m.

Metro riders can take the Orange Line to the Clarendon station, the entrance to which is in the middle of the multiblock festival area.

Stretches of Wilson Blvd and Clarendon Blvd will be closed from 3 a.m. to 10 p.m. to accommodate the event, according to Arlington County police.

The complete list of street closures for the event is below.

  • Wilson Blvd, from Washington Blvd to N. Highland Street
  • Clarendon Blvd, from Washington Blvd to N. Garfield Street
  • N. Highland Street, from 11th Street N. to Wilson Blvd
  • N. Herndon Street, from Wilson Blvd to the alleyway behind CVS
  • N. Hudson Street, from Wilson Blvd to the alleyway behind CVS

Samuel Beckett’s Celtic Festival

Samuel Beckett’s Irish Pub in Shirlington is hosting its annual Celtic Festival this Saturday from 12-7 p.m.

The event will highlight traditional Irish music and dance and feature a pop-up market, food and beverages.

Campbell Avenue, from S. Randolph Street to the parking garage entrance in front of Harris Teeter, will be closed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

National Landing Oktoberfest

Additionally, the National Landing Business Improvement District is holding an Oktoberfest event from 1-5 p.m. this Saturday at the corner of 22nd Street S. and S. Fern Street, behind what is dubbed “Restaurant Row” in Crystal City.

The beer-centric, Bavarian-ish event includes live music from the Alte Kumpel Band and The Pilgrims of Deep Run. Food and drinks, including offerings from Crystal City Sports Pub, will be available for purchase.

Activities include a stein-holding competition, a best-dressed contest, lawn games and crafting stations for kids featuring hat-making and clove decor. Attendees can register online ahead of time.

Police will close 22nd Street S. between S. Eads Street and S. Fern Street from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Several roads in Pentagon City and Rosslyn will be temporarily closed this Saturday for the Arlington 9/11 Memorial 5K and 2023 Rosslyn Jazz Fest.

While jazz enthusiasts sway to soulful tunes, just a few miles away, emergency responders will be lacing up their running shoes for the Arlington Police, Fire, Sheriff, & ECC 9/11 Memorial 5K race in Pentagon City.

From 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., two roads will be closed for the music festival:

  • Langston Blvd, eastbound from Fort Myer Drive to N. Moore Street
  • Fort Myer Drive access road, from 19th Street N. to N. Moore Street

The festival will take place from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. and feature several jazz acts, including Anjelika “Jelly” Joseph, Pedrito Martinez Group, Oh He Dead and DuPont Brass, as well as food trucks and games.

Road closures around the Pentagon City and Crystal City will begin at 5 p.m. to prepare for the Arlington 9/11 Memorial 5K, which has raised money for 9/11-related charities since its inception in 2002.

The race, which kicks off at 6 p.m. and ends at 7:30 p.m., will start and end at the DoubleTree Hotel in Pentagon City. All road closures in the area will be lifted by 8:30 p.m.

Street closure maps for the 2023 Rosslyn Jazz Fest and Arlington 9/11 Memorial 5K (via ACPD)

More on road closures about the 5K from a police press release:

The Arlington County Police Department will close the following roadways around the Pentagon and in Crystal City to accommodate the event:

From approximately 3:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.

  • Army Navy Drive, from S. Eads Street to 12th Street S.

From approximately 5:00 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.

  • S. Eads Street, from Army Navy Drive to 12th Street S.
  • S. Fern Street, from Army Navy Drive to 12th Street S.
  • S. Hayes Street, from Army Navy Drive to 12th Street S.
  • Army Navy Drive, from S. Joyce Street to S. Eads Street
  • S. Joyce Street, from Army Navy Drive to Columbia Pike
  • Columbia Pike, from S. Oak Street to Washington Boulevard
  • S. Washington Boulevard, from Arlington Boulevard to Columbia Pike
  • S. Washington Boulevard, from SB George Washington Parkway
  • Route 110 S., from I-66 and Wilson Boulevard to Army Navy Drive
  • Marshall Drive, from Iwo Jima Access Road to Route 110 S.
  • Southgate Road, from S. Nash Street to Columbia Pike
  • The ramp to Army Navy Drive from NB I-395 Exit 8A, Arlington Ridge Road, and N. Washington Boulevard
  • The ramp from NB I-395 Exit 8C to Pentagon City / Crystal City

ACPD said motorists should expect traffic and “extended travel times” in the surrounding areas. The department advises seeking “alternative routes to reduce road congestion,” including taking Metro.

The Rosslyn Metro Station is located within walking distance of the jazz festival while both the Pentagon City and Crystal City Metro stations are in walking distance of the race. Paid parking is available at the Pentagon City Mall garage.

Police say additional street parking near both events will be restricted and motorists should be on the lookout for temporary “No Parking” signs.

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(Updated at 08/29/23) Get ready for a symphony of local sounds and savory pies.

ACME Pie Company in Penrose is set to host its third annual music event, featuring musicians from across Northern Virginia, this Saturday from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. at 2803 Columbia Pike.

Admission is free, but Sol Schott — a former fine-dining pastry chef turned pie shop owner — says he’s asking for a $10 donation. This will be divided between the bands at the show’s end.

“It’s been a difficult time for musicians,” Schott told ARLnow, adding that several musicians performing at the event rely on music as their primary source of income.

“There’s a lot of different ways people can make money with music, and it just seems like over the last four years or so, since the pandemic, a lot of those options have kind of gone away,” he said. “I also want to do something nice for South Arlington.”

Of course, attendees will also be able to enjoy Schott’s assortment of pies, including quiche and pot pies, as well as seasonal fruit pies such as blackberry, peach and blueberry.

Schott said the show — held in the parking lot behind the pie shop — starts out “more blues and jazz,” then as the evening progresses, “it will become more rock and roll.”

The pie maker will also make an appearance on stage as the drummer for the act MF Grumbler.

Here is the lineup:

  • 2 p.m. — Rick Franklin and guests
  • 3 p.m. — Swingamajig
  • 4 p.m. — Coronal Josh & Paisley Tonk
  • 5 p.m. — Ex Motorcycle Couriers
  • 6 p.m. — Karl Straub Quartet
  • 7 p.m. — Delicate Whip
  • 8 p.m. — MF Grumbler
  • 9 p.m. — Jackie & the Tree Horns
The event poster for this Saturday’s music event at Acme Pie Company on Columbia Pike (via Acme Pie Co./Instagram)
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A new live music and events venue is opening in Ballston this weekend.

The small, 50-seat Filling Station at 4201 Wilson Blvd is opening its doors on Friday night. It’s owned by brothers Ian and Eric Hilton, who also own the adjacent restaurant El Rey.

The venue will focus on hosting live music, comedy, and private events, per its website.

“Filling Station is an intimate venue with an elevated stage that will be host, with no cover charge, to a rotating schedule of musicians, bands and comedians,” says a press release.

“Set with community-style and small group tables, the rustic interior harkens to mid-century culture with the walls filled with that era’s album and magazine covers and music posters,” the press release continues. “Large screen TVs and mounted televisions will show NFL football games and sports this fall.”

Friday night’s inaugural show will feature Cowpoke, a country rock and folk band from Leesburg. Saturday’s show will feature Arlington-based funk-rock band Skip House.

Food will be available from the next-door El Rey, including quesadillas, nachos, torta sandwiches, fries, wings and 17 beers on tap.

ARLnow first reported last month that Filling Station’s opening was imminent, though signs had been up dating back to August 2022.

The venue is part of the Hilton brothers’ burgeoning local restaurant empire. Cafe Coline on Langston Blvd was named one of Washingtonian’s Top 100 restaurants earlier this year. El Rey in Ballston opened in late 2021 as a second location of the popular D.C.-based taqueria.

Arlington’s live music scene has seen some changes in recent months.

B Live opened in May 2022 as a music venue and restaurant in the former Whitlow’s space in Clarendon. But this summer, the venue announced it was shifting to featuring more live karaoke and becoming a “beach bar,” at least temporarily.

The Renegade in Clarendon, which opened in 2019, also features live music.

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B Live sign in Clarendon (staff photo)

Clarendon’s B Live is set to become a beach bar beginning early next month, while Coco B’s is set to finally open on the rooftop.

The live music venue and watering hole on Wilson Blvd is changing concepts, at least temporarily, and becoming a “divey beach bar popup,” co-owner Christal Bramson tells ARLnow. The shifting sands reflect what’s working at the former Whitlow’s space, Bramson says.

“Due to the popularity of the Jingle Bell Rock popup theme during the holidays, we temporarily closed to convert the space to a summer fling theme with an inland divey beach bar popup: Beach Bar Live,” she wrote in an email.

The outdoor patio will also change, becoming a tiki bar with an “aggressive happy hour.”

“Think Coyote Ugly on the beach,” Bramson writes.

A tipster had reached out, thinking that the business had shuttered permanently. B Live — er, Beach Bar Live — is currently closed for the makeover, but Bramson said the hope is to reopen by August 4 with updated decor, menu, drink specials, and vibes. The opening weekend of the new concept will feature complimentary food, drink specials, and a battle of the bands, she said.

Beach Bar Live on Wilson Blvd (image courtesy of Christal Bramson)

This is the second time in less than two months that the venue has made significant changes. In June, ownership decided to “pivot” towards having more live band karaoke while decreasing the number of live original acts it hosted.

Live karaoke as well as a limited number of original acts will continue at Beach Bar Live, Bramson said.

“Tropical glam bar” Coco B’s is also hoping for an opening in early next month on the rooftop. The long-planned rooftop compliment to B Live has been delayed for months, but it’s looking to finally open within the next two weeks “pending permits.”

“If you think of B Live as the male version of the two of us, then Coco B’s is the female version… the his and hers,” Christal Bramson told ARLnow in June 2022. “It’s definitely going to be more female-focused. There’s going to be a lot of pinks, velvets, feathers, and it’s going to attract the softer side of Arlington.”

For the moment, Beach Bar Live is being considered a pop-up but Bramson said that if the concept ends up being popular, it could stick — somewhat like wet sand at the beach.

“If the popup grows in popularity, there is a possibility of combining both spaces into one massive (inland) beach destination,” she said.

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Smokecraft in Clarendon (via Google Maps)

Smokecraft Modern Barbecue will be able to keep its live entertainment permit after all.

The Arlington County Board approved a 10-month permit for the restaurant at 1051 N. Highland Street in Clarendon this Saturday.

For the last two months, the permit was renewed on a monthly basis while the county and the restaurant went back and forth on policies that would comply with the Arlington Restaurant Initiative, a program that intends to make participating alcohol-serving restaurants safer. Compliance is required for Clarendon restaurants and bars to maintain a live entertainment permit.

Smokecraft had initially balked at some of these requirements because, “per guidance received from their lawyers and insurance agents, the applicant believed that these written policies posed a liability threat to their establishment,” the county said in a report.

“We are a safe establishment. We have been a safe establishment. We continue to plan to do so. Adopting these specific written policies isn’t going to change our commitment,” owner and pitmaster Andrew Darneille told the Board last month.

Since then, however, the county says it has received and accepted written policies and procedures that bring Smokecraft into compliance with ARI.

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Live music venue The Filling Station is opening in Ballston (staff photo)

A new “live music and event venue” is coming to Ballston, posting up right next to El Rey.

The Filling Station is set to open soon on Wilson Blvd in Ballston, per an Instagram post last week. It aims to be a “great new spot for live music, comedy and more,” reads the post

The Filling Station will be adjacent to El Rey at 4201 Wilson Blvd and, like El Rey, owned by brothers Ian and Eric Hilton.

The brothers’ growing list of bars and restaurants include Cafe Coline on Langston Blvd, which was named one of Washingtonian’s Top 100 Restaurants earlier this year. Originally on U Street NW in the District, taco spot El Rey opened its second location in Ballston in late 2021.

The new venue is set to host a variety of events including stand-up comedy, live music, private parties, salsa brunches and podcast recordings, a spokesperson told ARLnow. A link on El Rey’s website has a sample menu that includes typical pub fare, like nachos, chicken wings, loaded fries, and 17 beers on tap.

It’s not immediately clear when The Filling Station might open, with the website noting only that it’s “coming soon.” ARLnow reached out to a restaurant spokesperson who replied that they were still “ironing out exact details” and more information be available in the future.

Signs have been up for The Filling Station since at least August 2022, but the business has faced delays related to its live entertainment permit application, ARLnow was told last year.

There’s been a bit of a shifting in Arlington’s live music scene. B Live opened last year, looking to fill the void left by Iota Club’s closing in 2017. But last month, the venue announced it was moving away from original acts to host more karaoke. The Renegade in Clarendon remains open with a full live music calendar, though.

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