Bluegrass, Butterflies, and Bassoons in the ‘Burg this weekend

Well, it’s the first weekend of August- the beginning of the end of summer (womp womp). There is a lot of music, dancing, and art going on this weekend- so get in your kicks while you can! I’ve only highlighted a very small portion of the events going on this weekend below. You can find all the rest- including about half a dozen live music shows per night- on the calendar.

Blue Moon Contradance at the Waterman’s Museum– Friday 7/31, lesson at 6:30

This is totally not the actual tent you will be dancing under. But it will still be lots of fun and pretty, you'll see!

This is totally not the actual tent you will be dancing under. But it will still be lots of fun and pretty, you’ll see!

I like to tell people that contradancing is just about the most fun you can have sober. It’s like line dancing in that the steps are all laid out so you know what to do. It’s a little geometrical, as there are patterns to figure out. And you get to spin around! Wheeeeeeee!

The Norfolk Contra Dancers are having their Blue Moon dance Friday at the Waterman’s Museum in Yorktown. It’s a beautiful setting right on the river. Carrot Tree will be serving Blue Crab with fixins starting at 5pm, but participants are also encouraged to bring potluck dishes. Tickets are only $10 and I guarantee you will have fun! Will it be hot? Yes! Will it be worth it? Absolutely!

Plus, the Wampler Brothers will be playing that night at the Water Street Grille in case you get hot or tired but still want some tunes.

Butterfly Festival at the Williamsburg Botanical Gardens- Saturday and Sunday 9-5

Butterfly FestivalHave you noticed all the butterflies around town lately? Here’s your chance to learn more about them and view many beautiful varieties. Together Williamsburg Botanical Garden and Virginia Master Naturalists Historic Rivers Chapter are presenting a Butterfly Festival at Williamsburg Botanical Garden this Saturday and Sunday. Walk through the Butterfly House and hold and feed a variety of butterflies that are native to Virginia. There will be information about what plants can attract butterflies to a garden and about the decline of the Monarch butterfly population and what you can do about it. At 1 and 3 pm, bring your kids, because the first 10 families to attend programs at that time will get a live pupa they can take home and watch as it transforms into a butterfly! For more information, the WY Daily has an article about the event.

Art in the ‘Burg– Saturday 10-4

Art in the Burg

Art in the ‘Burg is a new bi-weekly art festival featuring Historic Triangle artists and craftsmen hosted by Colonial Folk Art. It’s held in Williamsburg’s Art District (yes, it really exists, it’s around Lafayette and Richmond Road between Extraordinary Cupcakes and the Dunkin Donuts; 110 Bacon Ave for your GPS).

Summer of Freedom Music Festival– Williamsburg Symphonia

VSO Matoaka

This weekend, the Symphonia is playing a bunch of outdoor concerts at Lake Matoaka Ampitheater. The most affordable concert is Sunday at 11:30 am- Peter and the Wolf for the kiddos ($5 for lawn tickets). They’re also doing a night of romantic songs on Friday and a movie music concert on Saturday for $25 a person. Buuuuuuut if you want to wait for a FREE outdoor symphony concert, the VSO is playing at Lake Matoaka on September 3 and at Yorktown the Saturday of Labor Day weekend . . .

Want more? Check out the free admission at PFAC this weekend, or the kids fishing tournament, or the programs free for residents over on the calendar page. There is really so much to do in Williamsburg! Thank you for reading and have a great weekend.

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Ft. Monroe’s Orchestra: A View from Inside the Moat

Fort Monroe in the early evening is a downright bucolic scene. There might be a soccer game going on, people will be fishing off the bridges and walking their dogs, and if it’s a Tuesday night, you might hear the sounds of a symphony orchestra coming from inside the moat- that would be the Hampton Roads Philharmonic.

Ft. Monroe moat

When I was first asked to play in this new community orchestra, I had never heard of Fort Monroe, nor did I know how far it was down the peninsula. So the first time I drove down from Williamsburg, took the “Last Exit Before Tunnel” and then had to drive through a tiny stone passageway to get to the rehearsal space, I was mildly alarmed at what I had gotten myself into – and excited to discover this new place.

Ft. Monroe with lighthouse

That first summer I drove down every week with my viola, crossing the bridge from Phoebus to Ft. Monroe to see gorgeous sunsets on the water, the sun glinting off the surface, and the boats bobbing at the marina. Pulling up to our rehearsal building I’d hear the familiar cacophony of an entire orchestra warming up, with the occasional squawk or squeal alongside orderly scales going up and down. I’ll never forget our first concert. I was thrilled to be playing with this group of musicians – I was so proud of the way we sounded, and I beamed when we all stood up to accept the applause.

We have a concert this weekend and would be thrilled for you to be there. It’s going to be fun! The big, romantic, epic piece will be Grieg’s Norwegian Dances, which has every mood from soft and forlorn to huge and loud and majestic. The Berlioz Hungarian March is fun, loud, recognizable, and if you want a laugh, listen for the “cha-cha-chas”. The Mozart overture is light and fun, with lots of fast notes. And the last piece is something I have never played in my life – a double-bass concerto. The soloist, Matt Gold, cuts a lanky and boyish figure and brings his youthful exuberance to the music. He makes the bass sound positively joyous in this charming classical piece by Bottesini.

Now that I’ve played with the Philharmonic for a couple of years, some of that first excitement has inevitably worn off. But the thrill of the concert is still there. And the feeling of being in the midst of and a part of this huge symphonic sound – with the brass and winds booming at my back and the grounded sound of the strings all around me and the vibration of my instrument under my fingers – well- that never gets old.

Our concerts are Saturday at 7:30 pm at the Fort Monroe Theater and Sunday at 3 the First Presbyterian Church in Hampton. Both shows are free, so please come, and sign up for our email list so you can come to our concerts next year as well! Thank you!

Here are some samples from last season- I think we sound pretty good!

Saturday 9th 7:30p @ Ft. Monroe Theater (42 Tidball Rd., Hampton, VA 23669)
Sunday 10th 3pm @ First Presbyterian Hampton Church (514 S Armistead Ave, Hampton, VA 23669)