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Music & Concerts

D.C.-area native returns to region for Chanticleer tour

Zachary Burgess says singing with classical group is a joy



Zachary Burgess, gay news, washington blade

Zachary Burgess says he had a strong connection with music at a young age. (Photo by Sanaz Fahimi; Butterfly Photography)


A Chanticleer Christmas

Saturday, Nov. 25

George Mason University’s Center for the Arts

Fairfax, Va.

Sunday, Nov. 26

Hylton Performing Arts Center

Manassas, Va.

Tuesday, Nov. 28

Weinberg Center for the Arts

Frederick, Md.

Full details at

There were strong signs that the music bug had bitten a young Zachary Burgess years before he knew what was happening or thought anything of it.

A family story his mother likes to tell is how a young Zach joined Vanessa Williams full-throttle in the movie theater for “Colors of the Wind” from Disney’s “Pocahontas.”

“I could have cared less if anyone was listening or if I was annoying anyone,” Burgess, 30, says. “I was having the time of my life. It’s so funny. There are other similar stories. Things I don’t even remember. I’d be 4 and would make them gather around in the living room of my grandma’s house. It really has been in my DNA since I was little.”

In July, Burgess, a McLean, Va., native, moved to San Francisco to accept his big break — one of the coveted 12 slots in the male classical vocal group Chanticleer, an a cappella, Grammy-winning ensemble celebrating its 40th season. The choir is just starting its Christmas tour which has performances in Fairfax, Manassas and Frederick in the coming days.

Joining, he says, was an honor. He has a one-year contract with the group.

“I was relieved that the hard work I had put into my musical journey was starting to pay off,” he says.

It came at an interesting time, Burgess says. A 2013 graduate of the Eastman School of Music, the bass-baritone returned to the Washington area and was balancing a burgeoning local music career with his work at the Apple Store in Tysons Corner. Both careers were going fairly well. He’d been promoted from the Genius Bar at Apple into working as an inventory specialist and says there was potential there with a job he says he loved.

Simultaneously, he’d gained some traction in the music world, too. He took first prize in the Vocal Arts D.C. Art Song Discovery Competition, gave solo recitals at the Phillips Collection and the Kennedy Center, made multiple appearances with D.C. Public Opera, the Alexandria Choral Society and more.

But there were also a few bumps in the road. After a particularly dry year musically in 2015, Burgess says he “hit a fork” and decided to give music another full-on pursuit by finding a voice teacher (Elizabeth Daniels), a coach (Joy Schreier) and performing as often as he could.

“That’s really what has propelled me to now,” he says. “From then to now, the trajectory has just been up, up, up, up, up. Which is interesting because I’d just started to feel I’d kind of found my voice in the D.C. area and was starting to get some traction there.”

He’d auditioned for Chanticleer in February, 2016 but didn’t get the call until about a year and a half later. Some singers stay in the group a few seasons. Another is in his 28th (and final) season. The group performs everything from Renaissance, baroque, spirituals and contemporary compositions in configurations ranging from simple SATB harmony to complex arrangements where each of the 12 singers might be singing a different part.

Burgess says he wasn’t sure initially if his voice would blend well with the ensemble since he was more on a solo singing type of path, but he says so far, it’s been satisfying and he’s learned a lot about when to project and when to hold back depending on the performance space.

Upon moving to the Bay Area, Burgess had five weeks of rehearsal to learn two programs’ worth of repertoire. He went from an average of singing about 90 minutes per day to four-hour, MondayFriday rehearsals with the group, which he says was “the biggest shock” to his voice.

After a summer tour that took him to Spain, Germany, Poland, France and more and a busy fall with many U.S. concerts, it’s time for the Christmas tour. He was surprised to learn later that his mom had some Chanticleer Christmas CDs in her collection. They’d been there for years and he’d heard them but didn’t make the connection that this was the group he’d auditioned for.

“Now that I’ve stepped up to this big platform and seen this reaction, you now, you’re touching another person and that’s why I do this,” Burgess says. “It’s not about me, it’s not about fulfilling my own destiny. Now I get to enjoy just sort of delivering that talent and that passion and taking someone out of their world for a minute. When you know you’re emotionally connecting with a total stranger, you’re so vulnerable and you’re putting yourself out there, but to have that connection is really amazing.”

Burgess, who came out at 14 (“I was the flyest kid in the neighborhood rolling out of my parent’s driveway in my Barbie jeep as a toddler”), says there is a “healthy mix” of gay members in Chanticleer.

Burgess is single and says he’s enjoying navigating San Francisco gay life.

So far, what stands out most about San Francisco living versus D.C.?

“Everybody here is young, everybody has a tech job and nobody asks what you do, which is like the second question you get asked always in D.C.,” Burgess says. “I didn’t really know what to expect moving to what is probably the gayest city in America. … I’m such an East Coast person, very structured, very type A, so it’s been interesting getting used to a lot of people who are more laid back with their time.”

Zachary Burgess, gay news, washington blade

Zachary Burgess (Photo by Sanaz Fahimi; Butterfly Photography)


Music & Concerts

The Atlantis to showcase musical legends of tomorrow

New venue, a near replica of original 9:30 Club, opens next month



A look at the interior of the original 9:30 club. (Photo public domain/Library of Congress)

A new nirvana for music fans opens next month adjacent to the 9:30 Club. Dubbed The Atlantis, this intimate venue embraces a 450-person capacity – and pays homage as a near-replica of the original 9:30 Club.

The $10 million venue comes courtesy of I.M.P., the independent promoter that owns and operates the 9:30 Club and The Anthem, and operates The Lincoln Theatre and Merriweather Post Pavilion.

The Foo Fighters will inaugurate The Atlantis on May 30, which is also the 9:30 Club’s anniversary. Foo Fighters lead singer Dave Grohl, during a concert in 2021, kicked off speculation that I.M.P was planning to open a new venue, noting that, “We’ll probably be the band that opens that place, too, right?”

Other big names on the inaugural 44-show run roster: Franz Ferdinand, Barenaked Ladies, Third Eye Blind, Spoon, and Billy Idol.

To thwart scalpers, The Atlantis utilized a request system for the first 44 shows when they went on sale two weeks ago. Within four days of the announcement, fans had requested more than 520,000 tickets, many times more than the total 19,800 available. All tickets have been allocated; fans who were unable to snag tickets can attempt to do so in May, when a fan-to-fan ticket exchange opens.

While I.M.P. oversees multiple larger venues, “We’ve been doing our smallest shows in other peoples’ venues for too many years now,” said Seth Hurwitz, chairman of I.M.P. “We needed a place that’s ours. This can be the most exciting step in an artist’s career.”

The 9:30 Club holds 1,200 people, while The Anthem has space for up to 6,000.

“This will be where we help introduce new artists to the world… our smallest venue will be treated as important, if not more, than our bigger venues. If the stories are told right, both the artists and the fans begin their hopefully longterm relationship. Its stage will support bourgeoning artists and the legends of tomorrow,” Hurwitz said. Hurwitz and the team developed a tagline for the new venue: The Atlantis, Where Music Begins.

Hurwitz got his start at the original 9:30 Club, originally located at 930 F St., N.W. He was an independent booker of the club for the first six years and then he bought it, and managed the move from its original location to its current location in 1996. The venue first opened in 1980.

Audrey Fix Schaefer, I.M.P. communications director, provides further insight. “We were missing small venues in our umbrella. Big acts don’t start in stadiums. We need a place for emerging artists and for the community to discover new acts. The Atlantis can help new artists grow.”

While design elements are still coming into focus, Schaefer says that the space will be intimate, with almost no separation between the artist and the crowd. “There will be energy on both sides of the stage,” she says.

Although The Atlantis is set to be a replica of the original 9:30, I.M.P. has spared no expense. Schaefer notes that the sound and light systems use the latest available technologies, similar to next door at the current 9:30 Club.

The Atlantis takes over the footprint of now-closed Satellite Room. The venue will have at least two bars flanking the stage; cocktails but no food will be available.

Schaefer notes that since its early days, 9:30 Club and I.M.P. “has always been a place where people are welcome. People come and feel safe with us.” 9:30 Club has hosted several LGBTQ Pride parties, the BENT dance party series, and other events for LGBTQ patrons. Particular acts of note during the kickoff run include Tegan & Sarah and Tove Lo.

The Washington Blade was a neighbor to the 9:30 Club at its original F Street location back in the 1980s. Despite their proximity, noise wasn’t an issue for on deadline nights, when Blade staff worked late hours.

“We would of course work later hours back then,” said Phil Rockstroh, a longtime Blade staffer, in a 2016 Blade interview. “Everything was typeset and done by hand without computers and fax machines so getting through deadlines was much more time consuming.”

Rockstroh said the noise wasn’t a distraction.

“It wasn’t too bad as older buildings were constructed more solidly,” Rockstroh said. “There was only one entrance to the building and you entered so far to the elevator that went up to the other floors and then continued down the hall to the entrance to the 9:30 Club. Frequently at night if I was coming or going, there were people spilling out the doors.”

“The Blade has always had a friendly relationship with the 9:30 Club,” he added.

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Music & Concerts

National Philharmonic to perform classical, contemporary works

Violinist Melissa White returns



The National Philharmonic will host “Beethoven’s 7th” on Saturday, April 15 at 8 p.m. at Strathmore.

Past and present will collide in this performance of contemporary works and classical masterpieces. Maestro Piotr Gajewski will direct Valerie Coleman’s “Umoja, Anthem for Unity for Orchestra” Violinist Melissa White will also return to the Philharmonic to perform Florence Price’s sweeping, melodic “Violin Concerto No. 2.”

Tickets start at $19 and can be purchased on the Philharmonic’s website.

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Music & Concerts

Bruce & Janet & John Legend, oh my!

Slew of iconic acts hitting the road after pandemic cancellations



Janet Jackson is among the iconic acts touring this spring.

Pop and rock icons are releasing their pent-up pandemic frustrations by mounting huge tours this spring and summer. After three years of canceled and postponed shows, everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Janet Jackson is hitting the road at long last. But save your coins because the TicketMaster algorithms are driving ticket prices to astronomical highs. Here are a few highlights from D.C.-area venues this spring. Although some of the iconic acts aren’t coming until summer — Beyonce, Madonna, Pink — several others are hitting the road this spring.

Betty Who plays March 10; Keyshia Cole headlines the All Black Extravaganza 20 Year Anniversary tour on March 18; the Yeah Yeah Yeahs come to town on May 3; Seal brings his world tour to town on May 10; and the beloved Pixies are back on the road with a new North American tour stopping here on June 10.

9:30 CLUB
Don’t miss Gimme Gimme Disco, an Abba dance party on March 18; Inzo arrives on March 31, followed by Bent on April 1; Ruston Kelly brings his The Weakness tour on April 17 along with Purr; The New Pornographers show on May 19 is sold out but there are tickets available for the May 20 show; The Walkmen have added a fourth show on May 23 because the other three shows are sold our;

Living legend Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are back with a vengeance, playing one of four area shows on March 27. (They’re in Baltimore the night before.) If you missed out this time, don’t worry, Bruce is playing Nats Park in September as well as at Baltimore’s Camden Yards. April 1 brings the R&B Music Experience, including Xscape, Monica, Tamar Braxton, and 112. Blink-182 comes to town on May 23. And this summer watch for Sam Smith to continue his hot streak, bringing his “Gloria” tour to town on Aug.4.

Janet Jackson makes her highly anticipated return to the stage this spring, arriving in our area on May 6 along with guest Ludacris. The LGBTQ ally and icon has promised new music on her upcoming “Together Again Tour,” which follows the pandemic-related cancellation of her “Black Diamond Tour.” Jackson also plays Baltimore’s newly renovated CFG Bank Arena on May 13.

John Legend plays two nights at Wolf Trap on June 2 and 3; Charlie Puth follows on June 4. Wolf Trap also hosts the Indigo Girls on June 7 just in time for Pride month. Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with the Smithereens at the Birchmere on March 17. Fans of ‘80s alternative will be lined up for the Church also at the Birchmere at April 4, followed by Suzanne Vega on April 26. Amy Grant returns to the stage this spring and plays the Birchmere on May 2. Echostage plays host to a slew of buzz worthy shows this spring, including Ella Mai on April 8 and Fisher on May 12.

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