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FALL ARTS PREVIEW 2017: Bernstein centennial, WNO’s ‘Aida’ among classical standouts

From straight-up opera to fun stuff like Pink Martini and the Gay Men’s Chorus, area stages packed with talent



Classical Music Events, Cameron Carpenter, gay news, washington blade

Organ virtuoso Cameron Carpenter returns to the Kennedy Center Sept. 28 and 30 for performances with the National Symphony Orchestra. (Photo courtesy Bucklesweet Media)

Washington National Opera has launched its season with Verdi’s “Aida,” the first time it’s been in the Kennedy Center Opera House in 25 years. It continues through Sept. 23. Details at “Aida” will be live simulcast at Nationals Park on Saturday, Sept. 23 for “Opera in the Outfield.”

Queer organist Cameron NatioCarpenter returns to the Kennedy Center Concert Hall where he’s performed several times Sept. 28 and 30 for appearances with the National Symphony Orchestra  with performances of works by Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein and other American composers. Christian Macelaru conducts. It’s part of the Bernstein at 100 series. Tickets range from $15-89.

Other highlights in the Bernstein (gay though married to a woman) at 100 series include an exhibit in the Terrace Gallery that runs through Nov. 5, a Bernstein on Broadway performance on Friday, Sept. 22, the NSO season opening gala concert on Sunday, Sept. 24 and more. Details at

The NSO Pops presents “The Life Aquatic: a Tribute to David Bowie” on Friday, Sept. 29. Tickets are $25-89.

The gay-helmed Pink Martini performs with the NSO Pops and China Forbes on Saturday, Oct. 28 with a varied program. Tickets are $24-89.

Tickets for these and all Kennedy Center performances are online at

The Library of Congress is also getting in on the Bernstein centennial with an exhibit of items from its collection related to the late composer (who died in 1990). Its concert series/fall season kicks off with concerts by Ensemble Signal performing works by composer Steve Reich (Oct. 18) and fusion band La Santa Cecilia (Oct. 19). Details at

The Washington Bach Consort opens its 40th season with a program celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation (which turned out to be a good thing for gays though it took centuries to come to fruition) on Sunday, Sept. 17 at 3 p.m. at National Presbyterian Church (4101 Nebraska Ave., N.W.). Tickets are $10-69.

Other Consort performances are a chamber concert in which the ensemble will perform works from its inaugural season on Friday, Oct. 20 at First Congregational UCC and Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio” on Sunday, Dec. 9 at National Presbyterian. Details at

As usual, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra splits its time between Charm City and the Strathmore in Bethesda, Md. It’s doing “Tchaikovsky Thrill Ride” this weekend and “Poetic Fire: from Hamlet to Don Juan” Sept. 22-24. Esperanza Spalding performs with the orchestra as part of its BSO Pulse series on Thursday, Oct. 19. Several other performances are planned throughout fall. Details at

The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra kicks off its season Sept. 23-24 with a program featuring Beethoven, Wagner and Strauss. Michael Rossi is guest conductor. Tickets range from $20-80. Details at

Urban Arias, a local, gay-helmed, contemporary opera outfit, brings the life of architect Frank Lloyd Wright to the stage in “Shining Brow” by Daron Aric Hagen (music) and Paul Muldoon (libretto) Oct. 14-21 at Atlas Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $42 ($39 for students and seniors). Details at

In the “sorta” classical vein, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington is recording a live album on Saturday, Sept. 30 at 3 p.m. at Foundry United Methodist Church (1500 16th St., N.W.) that’s free and open to the public. The group is recording material it performed on its recent “Southern Equality Tour.” Its fall fundraiser “ropeburn” will be held on Saturday, Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. in Dupont Underground. Tickets are $75. “It Takes Two,” a duet show, is Saturday, Nov. 11 at Atlas (tickets are $39). Its annual holiday show is Dec. 9-17 at Lincoln Theatre. Full details at

D.C. Different Drummers performs “D.C. Swing! Gig” on Sunday, Oct. 29 at 3 p.m. at Mr. Henry’s (601 Pennsylvania Ave., S.E.). Its fall band concert is Saturday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. at Church of the Epiphany (1317 G St., N.W.). Details at

Washington Concert Opera performs “La Straniera” (Bellini) on Sunday, Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. at Lisner Auditorium (730 21st St., N.W.). Tickets are $40-110. Details at

The Strathmore’s fall offerings include the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra (Oct. 22), pianist Rachel Franklin (Oct. 26), Sol Gabetta performs Tchaikovsky with the BSO (Oct. 28), Pinchas Zukerman performs Bach with the BSO (Nov. 9), Black Violin on its “Classical Boom Tour” (Nov. 10), the National Philharmonic (Nov. 11), Renaissance chamber ensemble Sonnambula (Nov. 16), Andre Watts returns for “Rach 2” with the BSO (Nov. 18). Note some performances are at the Music Center at Strathmore; others are in the Mansion. Full details, times and prices at

Young Artists of America present “The Sound of Music” on Sunday, Oct. 29 at 4 p.m. at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center (8270 Alumni Dr., College Park, Md.). Young Artists presents symphonic productions featuring young artists from the D.C. area performing alongside professional mentors. Details at

Virginia Opera brings its “Samson and Delilah” (Saint-Saens) production to Fairfax Oct. 7-8 at George Mason. Tickets are $54-110. Its “Girl of the Golden West” (Puccini) will be in Fairfax Dec. 2-3. Details at

And, of course, as always Washington Performing Arts has a wide spate of fall performances including:

• Aaron Diehl and Murray Horwitz in “Conversations in Music I: Rhythm” on Tuesday, Oct. 3 at McEvoy Auditorium (Tickets are $25)

• Sphinx Virtuosi on Sunday, Oct. 15 at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater (Tickets are $35)

• Orchestra Dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia at the Kennedy Center on Wednesday, Oct. 25 ($45-115)

• Other highlights include A Far Cry/Luciana Souza (Nov. 4), Joshua Bell (Nov. 5), the Verona Quartet (Nov. 10), the Mariinsky Orchestra (Nov. 12), Nathan Lee (Dec. 2) and Denyce Graves (Dec. 4). Full details at

Every Friday at 12:15 organ recitals are held at National City Christian Church (5 Thomas Circle). The church has one of the finest organs in the city and often attracts world-class performers. Out minister of music Rev. Michael McMahon programs the series. The church also has monthly LGBT Bible studies and happy hours. Details at

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DC Aquatics Club swimmers reflect on world title win

Team took 125 gold medals en route to breaking 72 DCAC records



The District of Columbia Aquatics Club sent 42 swimmers to the International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics world championships in Palm Springs, Calif. (Photo courtesy DCAC)

The District of Columbia Aquatics Club sent 42 swimmers to the International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics (IGLA) world championships in Palm Springs, Calif., in April on a mission to capture their first world title since 2013.

It was a long road back to international competition for the DCAC swimmers after the disruption of training and travel brought on by the worldwide pandemic.

When the team returned from IGLA in Melbourne, Australia in March of 2020, their training pools were closed, and all competitions were canceled.

By May they had established a training site in the South River in Annapolis where they swam until November of that year. Eventually, pools began to reopen, and the team was faced with battling for training time in COVID-restricted pools.

Following the postponement of the 2022 Gay Games in Hong Kong, the IGLA community scrambled to put together a competition in Palm Springs that would be hosted in tandem by West Hollywood Aquatics and the Long Beach Grunions. 

DCAC’s swimmers in Palm Springs consisted of a mix of veterans and rookies ranging in age from 22 to 76 years old. Each swimmer was eligible to enter five individual events and three relay events.

With 67 teams in attendance, DCAC jumped out to an early lead on day one in the large team category with West Hollywood Aquatics and San Francisco Tsunami in close pursuit. 

Despite the disqualifications of two of their winning relays for early takeoffs, DCAC held on to their lead over the remaining three days to claim their first world title in nine years.

Three DCAC swimmers, Grant Casey, Carmen Robb and Jerry Frentsos, won gold in all five of their individual events. In total, the team won 125 gold, 66 silver and 35 bronze medals en route to breaking 72 DCAC team records.

Addison Winger was a first time IGLA swimmer and hadn’t competed in 12 years. He had heard the tales from past IGLAs and wanted to join in on the fun.

“It was a great experience to compete for DCAC at an international competition. I had never been in a championship meet before where you go through the process of tapering, shaving, and suiting up in tech gear,” says Winger. “The relays were amazing, and I enjoyed taking advice and feedback from our coaches to incorporate into future races. It was also great spending quality team with my teammates outside of the pool.”

Olivia Kisker had competed with DCAC at IGLA Melbourne in 2020 and was looking forward to traveling with her team again.

“Even though the days were long at the pool, we still had time for Joshua Tree, the gondolas and all that Palm Springs has to offer,” Kisker says. “I love traveling and doing it with your teammates provides a setting for bonding and getting to know people better. I also enjoyed competing against my teammate Sarah. It’s like a friendship and a rivalry.”

Craig Franz restarted his post-COVID competitive swimming at IGLA Palm Springs and went on to a training camp and open water race in Hawaii this past month.

“The whole thing about this team is relationships and sharing swimming as a common denominator. The swim competitions legitimize building relationships and supporting each other in healthy ways,” say Franz. “Palm Springs felt like a more relaxed setting, and we needed this meet to rebuild the team. It provided a nutritional base for what we are about – swimming and friendships.”

Sarah Padrutt had not competed since 2019 and all the talk about past IGLAs prompted her to attend for the first time.

“I had so much fun, and it was cool having people cheering and being supported by teammates,” Padrutt says. “It was also a nice wakeup call, a reminder of how much I like competing. I like the pressure of racing and being on relays with my team. It was a very positive experience.”

Charles Cockrell has been a Masters swimmer for decades and is the chair of the Legislation Committee for United States Masters Swimming. He came out in 2019 and these championships marked his first time competing at IGLA.

“I wanted to compete at a swim meet that was a combination of the LGBTQ community and the sport of swimming. It was a fun, accepting and engaging environment,” says Cockrell. “The takeaway was that everyone was enjoying themselves and it was nice to be gathered together in a queer space. There was an atmosphere of camaraderie, and it was great being attached to a big team like DCAC.”

Coming up next for DCAC is the United States Masters Swimming Nationals in Richmond in August. Next year, the team will travel to London for the 2023 IGLA world championships to be held in the London Olympic Pool.

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Out & About

10 LGBTQ events this week

See more than just the fireworks in the days ahead



From movie nights to dance parties, there is a lot to do in the region this week. (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

Below are our picks for some of the most fun and creative things to do this week in D.C. that are of special interest to the LGBTQ community.

MNSkating’s Pride Too!

Monday, June 27
7:30 p.m.
Laurel Skating Center
9890 Brewers Court
Laurel, Md.
Facebook | Meetup

Join the Monday Night Skaters for a Pride-themed skating party in Laurel, Md. on Monday.

Queen of the Capital at Adams Morgan Movie Nights

Tuesday, June 28
8-11 p.m.
Adams Morgan Soccer Field

The Adams Morgan Partnership BID will be showing “Queen of the Capital” from local documentary maker Josh Davidsburg.

Pride Night at Frederick Keys

Wednesday, June 29
6-9 p.m.
Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium
21 Stadium Drive
Frederick, Md.
Facebook | Tickets

Join Pride on the Patio for a night of baseball as the Frederick Keys hold Pride Night sponsored by the Frederick Center.

LGBTQ Families Discussion & Beer Tasting

Wednesday, June 29
7-8 p.m.
Aslin Beer Company
847 South Pickett Street
Alexandria, Va.
Facebook | Tickets

Rainbow Families will have an informal discussion about such topics as coming out, celebrating your child’s identity, being a good ally in the workplace and more . . . followed by a beer tasting! No charge, but donations will be taken.

First Friday LGBTQ+ Social with GoGayDC

Friday, July 1
7-9 p.m.
The Commentary (in the Westin)
801 North Glebe Road
Arlington, Va.
Facebook | Eventbrite

Join GoGayDC for a monthly social gathering in Ballston.

Drag Race All-Stars Viewing Party

Friday, July 1
7-9 p.m.
JR.’s Bar
1519 17th Street, N.W.

Get together with other Drag Race super fans for an evening viewing party hosted by Citrine.

Outdoor Movie Night

Friday, July 1
8:30-10:30 p.m.
Stead Park
1625 P Street, N.W.

Bring your blanket and catch a movie on the big screen at Stead Park.

FireWerk with DJ Chord

See more than just the fireworks in the days ahead

Friday, July 1
9 p.m.
AquaGrill Reho
57 Baltimore Avenue
Rehoboth Beach, Del.

Kick off Independence Day weekend in Rehoboth with a no cover dance party at AquaGrill.

Zodiac Drag Contest

Zodiac Drag Contest (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Sunday, July 3
8 p.m.
Freddie’s Beach Bar
555 23rd Street S
Arlington, Va.
$5 cover

The monthly amateur drag competition returns to Freddie’s on Sunday. Check out the new talent (or try it out yourself).

Flashy 4th of July Weekend

Sunday, July 3 – Monday, July 4
10 p.m.
645 Florida Aveune, N.W.
Facebook | Eventbrite

Celebrate Independence Day with a Flashy 4th of July on the dance floor of Flash.

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PHOTOS: Loudoun Pride

LGBTQ community celebration held at Claude Moore Park in Sterling, Va.



Loudoun County, Va. elected officials gather on the main stage at Loudoun Pride on Saturday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The first Loudoun Pride was held at Claude Moore Park in Sterling, Va. on Saturday, June 26.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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