Member Spotlight: Fun music keeps men singing… and crowds wanting more!

September 23, 2010

By Steve Freeman
A unique musical treat. … That is how some would describe the Chorus of the Old Dominion. Without needing instrumentation, sound systems, or even a venue, the Chorus can break into a song that brings ear-pleasing harmonies and fun music anywhere they go.

Chorus of the Old Dominion repertoire is one reason they are a hit with audiences. They specialize in the doo-wop, barbershop, and pop standards that listeners can’t help but tap a foot to. “Under the Boardwalk,” “Silhouettes,” and even Beach Boys hits.

A performance by the Chorus features something for everyone, however. Other songs they offer the crowds include John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” “O Shenandoah,” the Beatles’ “When I’m 64,” “Coney Island Baby,” Harry Conack Jr.’s “Recipe for Love,” and many others, including holiday hits and love songs.

The Chorus is an all-male group in its 8th year that brings 4-part a cappella harmony to community events, festivals and private functions like birthday and retirement parties. The chorus is perhaps best known for its singing telegrams, delivered each Valentine’s Day to unsuspecting “sweethearts.”

New happenings this year for these men of song include hosting a choral workshop for area high school students, with leadership from the nation’s Barbershop Harmony Society, and more frequent appearances at Leesburg First Friday events. The chorus frequently takes the stage for annual events such as Loudoun Earth Day, Martin Luther King Day, and sings for wounded veterans of the Izaak Walton League.

Harmonize with the Guys

What kind of a man does it take to sing in an all-male chorus? If you’re thinking about it, the Chorus is looking for you. “The group’s busy times of the year are nearing and now is the time to join in by starting with a “no pressure and no obligation” sing-along night,” said Timothy Wyant of western Loudoun, the chorus’s president.

Do you sing in the shower? Then you might qualify. Do you find yourself humming along to songs you hear? Do you love music and have you ever sung in a choir before?

Men of any age who enjoy music, like the feeling of pleasing a listening audience and can sing on pitch and memorize music are good candidates for the Chorus. The group meets weekly on Thursday evenings for rehearsal and provides listening tracks to continue learning the music throughout the week.

There’s more to the Chorus than the technical requirements, however. It’s members like Mike Jacks of Ashburn simply enjoys having a wholesome pastime that provides an diversion the work-a-day world.

Dale Bird of Herndon, president-elect for 2011, is in the Chorus because of the fun songs they sing and the extra special feeling of performing songs in close harmony and unadorned by musical instruments or sounds in a bar.

“I love watching the faces of the audience,” said Bird. “When they smile I know we’ve done our job and entertained them.”

Many of its singers were in choirs at young ages, loved it then, and find that returning to vocal music interests today is a fun way to participate in community life. Others have always sung in church choirs, but wanted to polish their vocal skills or wanted to venture into singing pop songs for a change.

When they come together, they take on the challenge to bring good, fun music to every audience for which they perform.


For more information about the Chorus of the Old Dominion, or to get in on an upcoming rehearsal, visit http://www.odchorus.org or contact 703-975-5184 or info@odchorus.org. The Chorus can also be found on Facebook and MeetUp.com.

Upcoming public performances:

Saturday, Nov. 13 Sterling Public Library, 2 p.m., Sterling, Va. Free

Saturday, Dec. 11 Hillsboro Homes Tour, 1-6 p.m., Hillsboro, Va.


Sculptor Jeff Hall and the Layers Between Hard and Soft

September 10, 2010

by Kimberly McCann-Pierce

The human figure has inspired artists for millennia.  From the statues in ancient Greece to the friezes at Washington National Cathedral, the body’s graceful form speaks to us as a representation of our march through time.  Local sculptor Jeff Hall* stands proudly on the shoulders of giants in his study of the human figure.  Hall graciously invited me into his studio to view his art and discuss his process.

Loudoun sculptor, Jeff Hall, with torso pieces from his showcase series "City of Angels" and "Monumental Men."

“I view myself as more of a craftsman as opposed to an artist,” said Hall, as he led me through his Lovettsville, Virginia studio.  Male and female forms in bronze and clay dotted the studio intermingled with an ephemeral Lucite mermaid named “Pearl Diver”. “It’s a matter of the surreal and of pushing the limits,” said Hall in describing the mermaid, directing my attention to the smooth fins and the oversized pearl she pressed against her bronze chest.  “It’s a matter of communicating with that other world and it has to be a mood or a feeling to inspire it.”

Hall identifies the concept of Time as a prominent theme throughout his work.  A piece outside his studio aptly named “Time Twister” trellises against the entryway, staring into the distance amid a whirlwind of bronze fossils and Doric columns.  Hall’s showcase series, “City of Angels” * and “Monumental Men”*, address Time as provocative torsoed ruins arranged with sculpted blocks of miniature brick, creating a suspended sense of ancient meets modern.  Hall discussed the juxtaposition of the torso series, identifying the abstracted layers at play as the brick meets the flesh.  “Breaking out the layers between hard and soft is like the layers of one’s personality or character,” said Hall.

When asked how works of such technical intricacy and grace are conceived, Hall points to his interest in fantasy.  Hall’s ideas are born through anything from comic books to feelings inspired by newspaper articles.  In describing the process of bringing the idea into the three dimensional world, the piece must guide him as he creates.  “Oftentimes I will give the piece a title and then it will lead me where it wants to go,” said Hall, pointing to a life size terracotta paleontologist* immersed in a fossilized mammalian discovery.  The terracotta paleontologist emerged during the Jurassic Park movie debut and the subsequent cultural saturation of dinosaur imagery.  “That’s what makes you a contemporary artist: the time period you live in and what you’re bombarded with,” said Hall.

Hall is an artist to the core, despite his self-applied title as craftsman.  As a child he was fascinated with shapes and colors, experimenting with paints and creating detailed airbrush work.   His interest evolved to woodworking where he enjoyed the challenge of molding pieces into different shapes.  From woodworking came a natural progression to clay, plaster, terracotta, ceramic, and bronze, still playing upon the challenge of forcing shapes from metals and other malleable materials.   Hall spent eleven years working with “The Three Soldiers Vietnam Memorial” sculptor, Frederick Hart.  Through his work with Hart, he learned the Lucite sculpting technique, a skill only a few sculptors have mastered.

Time Twister, Bronze - 55" x 20" x 14"

Hall’s work strives to bridge the gap of past with present and technical with ethereal.  When asked where his inspiration will take him next, he simply comments, “I think I want to go more abstract.”  For Hall, abstract means experimenting with a blend of materials and paints.  Tucked among the bronze and clay figures in his studio are two blue Lucite pieces that stand out from the shades of brown.  Hall suggests he may mix metals with Lucite to draw a keener distinction between the real and the otherworldly.  He talks about the qualities of Lucite and explains the lengthy and costly process of creating with those pieces.

Each material has its own nature, but Lucite, according to Hall, has an ethereal quality that lures the eye.  Hall’s work is a blend of fantasy with reality and ancient with modern and I look forward to seeing how abstract he will go.

*For more on Jeff Hall and his work visit www.JeffHallStudio.com; for a list of studios representing Jeff Hall visit http://www.jeffhallstudio.com/shows.html.


Member Spotlight: ARTLINGZ

August 16, 2010

By Allen Pearson

Love art, have or work with children or grandchildren?!? Want to create an art lesson but avoid the headaches and expenses? Check out www.artlingz.com – an art resource for parents, babysitters, teachers, grandparents, anyone involved with children ages 4 – 12!!

Artlingz is art instruction for children. My inquiry to the owner, Lori Schue, gave me several pages of information about her program. Prompt replies were more prompter than prompt, I was impressed. I read the material and became fascinated with the program.

To begin this journey, go to www.artlingz.com and look around. The website is user-friendly and designed to catch your attention and keep it. You want to investigate. Being adventurous, the Explorer link immediately got my attention. I clicked on it and took a virtual field trip around the world to many well-known art museums by websites.

An email address is needed to access materials which you can select and purchase. As stated several times, Artlingz keeps your email private and does not share! Not sharing is a good thing, in this case.

I entered the Lesson Vault where I found an incredible selection of projects you can choose. Projects are based on Artists, Technique, Topic, Medium, and Adaptive Art (art for children with disabilities will be launched soon). Move your mouse over one of the topics and look to the left at the canvas, a brief description appears giving a general idea for the plan. On the right side of the screen are links to information where you can learn to effectively use this valuable resource. I checked out the Mixed Media and Native American Indian links and quickly learned about making a headdress.

And, there’s a gallery where your children’s work can be posted. How cool is that?

An important note, teachers anywhere in the universe can purchase and use the curriculum offered as it goes beyond National Standards for Visual Arts guidelines needed for instruction in schools.

www.artlingz.com, created by Lori Schue, Visual Communications degree, taught and written children’s art curriculum for over 20 years for schools and international programs such as Scholastic. Authored “Art Works for Kids,” series of books published by Evan Moor Publishing.

Allen Pearson is a Nature, Dog and Cat Photographer and a Loudoun Arts Council member and volunteer, for which we are most grateful. You can see his work at www.allenpearsonsphotos.com.


Family Friendly! Fun! Free! – This weekend only!

June 18, 2010

Dear Mom,

So, I was thinking about a fun way to spend Father’s Day Weekend. Something fun, and outdoors, and even a little bit artsy? (That part is a secret.)

You know we are always dragging Daddy to weird conferences, and concerts? And how he just likes the driving part? Or how we drag him shopping? And how he complains about having to carry all the bags?

So, here is my idea. The Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour. What? You think you can hear him groaning already? (Yeah, I might hear him groaning all the way from Texas.)

But look! Daddy loves power tools, right? We can go see wood turning, or glass blowing, or welding! Daddy cannot be separated from his camera, right? – there are photographers of everything – landscapes, people, animals… There are also painters, potters, jewelers, AND sculptors in many mediums. Heck, there are even weavers…

Huh. You think this is a hard sell? Did I mention the booklet? There is a map, with over 30 stops to hit over two days. And at those stops, over 50 artists. Do you not think that he will LOVE trying to fit it all in? (I tried last year, and just missed my goal)…. Don’t you think he will get a kick out of traveling all over western Loudoun County- scenic countryside… historical villages? It is gorgeous. There are good places to dine, and wineries to do a quick tasting. There are even bed and breakfasts sponsoring the tour-great places to stay.

Okay. And here is the cool part, Mom. There is stuff for everyone! There is artwork to buy in all price ranges. The artists are there to meet, and you can see demonstrations of their work. There will be door prizes.

Oh. Here is the best part. It is free. FREE!!!

You are welcome, Mom. Check out the website: http://www.wlast.org/. There are also booklets out in local stores. (I will send you one.)

Your artsy daughter,




The Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour

Saturday, June 19th, 10-5PM, Sunday, June 20, 12-5PM

Visit the studios of over 50 talented artists as you wind through the scenic countryside and historic villages of western Loudoun County. Enjoy paintings, pottery, jewelry, photography, fiber, sculpture and more!

Take this unique opportunity to talk personally with the artists, purchase artwork, view demonstrations and exhibits, or win a door prize!

FREE to public! For Tour Maps, lists of artists and more information please visit ur website at: www.wlast.org or call 540.338.7973.


Opera in Loudoun County! Really!

June 2, 2010

Did you know there is an opera company right here in Loudoun County?

Me neither.

Okay, that’s not true. What kind of arts council chick would I be if I didn’t know that?

But it IS true that I’ve never been to see an opera. It’s kind of intimidating. What language will they sing in? What’s the dress code? Will there be popcorn?

Bryan Jackson as Don Giovanni and Alexandra Boule-Buckle as Donna Anna

The Loudoun Lyric Opera has an upcoming production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni – The Infamous Tale of Don Juan. I figure, what better intro to opera than the “romantic trail of the world’s greatest lover“?  I’m down with that.

And it’s close…right at Franklin Park Arts Center in Purcellville!

So I asked my friend, Pamela Butler, President and Founder of the Loudoun Lyric Opera for some help. And luckily for me, her husband, David Butler was just putting on the finishing touches to a Loudoun Lyric Opera FAQ, which humorously portrays the opera experience from the long-suffering-husband-point-of-view and is filled with lots of good pointers.

Here’s just a sample:

Q:  I don’t think I like opera!  Why should I go to this one?
A:  I used to think that too.  My wife, though, loves to perform opera so I’ve had no choice but to go.  I’ve been to way more than my life’s quota, but what I’ve found out is that it can actually be fun!  Operas are kind of like wine.  When you first start to drink wine, don’t drink a heavy, dry red.  You may never drink wine again!  Most folks start with something like a white zinfandel.  Hated by wine snobs, but loved by most folks, especially those that don’t drink much wine.
Click HERE to read the rest. Frankly, I don’t feel bad for David one bit.  Looks like fun to me! So come on out and check out some opera and support this unique group of artists in our midst! It’s coming up this weekend, so hurry up and get your tickets!


Friday, June 4, 8 pm
Saturday, June 5, 8 pm
Sunday, June 6, 3 pm

Franklin Park Performing Arts Center
36441 Blueridge View Lane, Purcellville, VA

$25 Adults, $20 Seniors/Students

For more information, fun pictures and ticket purchase, please go to http://www.loudounlyricopera.com/ or call 540.338.7973.


Come Help Choose Loudoun's Most Talented Youth!

May 25, 2010

Join us at 2 pm on
Sunday, May 30th

 Now’s your chance! 

The Top 10 Finalists from the Loudoun’s Got Talent auditions will be performing and competing for $1750 in scholarships…and your vote counts!

The audience and a panel of judges, led by Loudoun Symphony Maestro Mark Allen McCoy, will vote to pick the top three performers, so come out and cast your ballot, and hear some of the finest young musicians in the county.

+ A Special Performance by Maddy Curtis!!!

Tickets: Advance/Door: Adult $10/$12, Senior (65+) $8/$10, Youth 18 and under FREE.

Order Advance Tickets online at www.loudounsymphony.org 
or call 703-771-8287.

Franklin Park Arts Center
36441 Blueridge View Lane
Purcellville, VA 20132

Partner: Loudoun Arts Council

Sponsors:  Wegmans. Sandy Spring Bank, Loudoun Youth, Inc., RainedOut, and Loudoun Times Mirror.

Some serious talent here folks! See for yourself!


Loudoun County Summer Concerts – UPDATED

May 19, 2010

Didja all know that there are outdoor concerts every week this summer right here in Loudoun?  For all you staycationers this year, maybe you can incorporate a few concerts into your fun schedules. Prices range from FREE to about $17.00.

Loudoun Summer Music Fest
When: Saturdays & Sundays.
Where: Belmont Country Club, 19961 Belmont Manor Lane, Ashburn, VA 20147.
Cost: Tickets range from $17 – $12.50 General Admission.
Website: http://www.loudounsummermusicfest.com/ 
Contact: info@loudounsummermusicfest.com or 877-743-5320

Saturday, May 22: Cheap Trick
Sunday, May 23: Dark Star Orchestra
Sunday, June 6: Creedence Clearwater Revisited
Saturday, June 12: The Machine & Zoso
Sunday, June 27: Blues Traveler
Sunday, July 11: Travis Tritt
Sunday, July 25: Charlie Daniels Band
Saturday, August 21: The Original Wailers

Acoustic on the Green Concert Series
When: Saturday, 7-9PM, June thru August
Where: Town Green (25 West Market Street), Leesburg
Cost: Concerts are FREE. 
Website:  http://www.acousticonthegreen.com 
*Lawn chairs and picnic blankets are advised. No smoking or alcoholic beverages allowed, and no pets, please. Picnics are encouraged.

June 12: Todd Wright
June 19: Chelsea Lee, with TrustFall opening
June 26: Naked Blue
July 10: Prescott Engle
July 17: Luke Brindley
July 24: Michael Sheppard
July 31: Robbie Limon
August 7: Gary Smallwood
August 14: Don Chapman
August 21: Jon Carroll
August 28: Jennifer Daniels

Lansdowne Sounds of Summer Concert Series
When: Fridays, 7 – 10PM
Where:  Lansdowne Resort, 44050 Woodridge Parkway, Leesburg, Virginia 20176.
Cost: Concerts are FREE, but “Please do not bring food and drink into the concerts.”
Website: http://www.lansdownesensations.com/

*Enjoy specialty drinks, grilled foods, fresh salads, Loudoun County wines, featuring Lansdowne Reserve produced exclusively by Tarara Winery. Picnic basket snacks will also be available for purchase. 

*Some seating will be provided, but you are more than welcome and encouraged to bring a blanket and sit on the lawn.

June 18: The Jack Diamond-Jim Steed Band
June 25: JunkFood
July 2: Southern Excess
July 3: The Backseat Betties (Saturday night, including fireworks)
July 9: Sharon Thomas Experience
July 16: Esencia Tropical
July 23: The Jack Diamond-Jim Steed Band
July 30: The Reflex
August 6: AbbeyRoad
August 13: The Fabulous Dial Tones
August 20: The Monster Band
August 27: Gonzo’s Nose
September 3: Beach Bumz

Tarara’s Toast to the Tunes Summer Concert Series
When: Saturdays, June through October from 6 – 9:30PM!
Where: Tarara Winery, 13648 Tarara Lane, Leesburg, VA 20176
Cost:  $15 per person
Website: http://www.tarara.com/experience-tarara/summer-concert-series/
Contact: (703) 771-7100

* Experience live music under the stars at Shadow Lake while sipping a cool glass of Chardonnay or savoring a bold Cabernet Franc. Whether it’s original rock, cover bands, jazz, country or blues, Tarara has a complete line up to fulfill your musical desires.

* Tarara Winery also offers Live Local Music on Sundays, June through October from 11AM – 6PM on their charming wood deck overlooking the Potomac River, set against the backdrop of Sugarloaf Mountain. Surrounded by a canopy of trees, the Winery Deck offers a relaxing, pleasant atmosphere. Free! Wines available for purchase. http://www.tarara.com/

A couple of area neighborhoods have jumped on the bandwagon and are offering summer concerts right in their communities!  If I’m missing your community’s concert schedule, please drop a link into the comment section here and I’ll be sure to update this list!

Brambleton Sizzlin’ Summer Sounds
When: Thursday nights from 7 – 9
Where: Brambleton Town Center
Website: http://brambleton.com/towncenter/

South Riding Summer Concert Series
When: Friday nights from 7 – 9:30
Where: South Riding Town Green
Website: http://www.southriding.net/index.php?option=com_extcalendar&Itemid=666&task=one&id=67

Seriously? That is a lot of music. Go see something!

* Correction: When I sent this out via Happenings! on the 15th, I accidentally posted 2009’s schedule for the Bluemont/Dodona Summer Concerts on Sunday. As of now, they are still finalizing their 2010 schedule. Please check back at their website http://www.bluemont.org/ for their upcoming schedule.