A December sampling of arts in DC

December is always busy for us, and this year is no exception. If anything, our choice to celebrate the season by attending performances of various kinds has heightened the schedule-juggling.

Our first event of the month was The Trumpet of the Swan, a reading of the book set to music that debuted at the Kennedy Center. The Trumpet of the Swan is one of my favorite books, and the actors and musicians did an excellent job of portraying it. I was excited to be able to see Kathy Bates and Fred Willard, and Washington local Edward Gero was perfect as Louis’s father. Attending this performance was my (early) birthday present, and I was glad to be able to share it with my partner, who had never read the book as a child.

The following Tuesday, we returned to the Kennedy Center to see the Martha Graham Dance Company perform Clytemnestra. Although I’ve seen many of the great modern dance companies perform at the Kennedy Center in recent years, I had yet to see a Martha Graham production. While I began to suspect that her version of Clytemnestra is something like the Ring Cycle of modern dance—by which I mean to say that we may not have risen to the level of knowledge or appreciation of other members of the audience—we were both fascinated. I found it particularly interesting given that it was first produced in 1958; I commented to my partner that you would have had to be terribly fashionable to attend this performance in its first run, as it was somewhat avant garde even for contemporary productions. The costumes and choreography were wonderful, and of course the dancing was superb. And now we can say that we’ve seen a show created by the mother of modern dance!

Following close on the heels of this performance, we went traditional on Friday and attended a reception at the Swedish embassy celebrating Santa Lucia Day. A highlight of the evening was Mats Carlsson, a ‘rather well-known up-and-coming Swedish opera singer’ as we were told by one of our fellow guests, joining the girls for a lovely solo. Our hosts were very gracious, the hors d’ouevres were excellent, and the Glögg was wonderfully potent. Maybe next year we’ll get invited to the gala and I’ll have a chance to wear my wedding necklace! (A girl can dream.)

The next night we headed back down to Foggy Bottom to see the Christmas Revels at GWU. We don’t go every year, but this year’s program had a French-Canadian theme that I just couldn’t pass up. We had a wonderful time; there’s something about being knee to knee and elbow to elbow with strangers while belting out holiday tunes that creates an incredibly festive atmosphere. The evening had the added bonus of exposing my partner, who never studied French in school, to the joys of Alouette, complete with popping out of our seats to point at the various body parts as they became relevant (et le bec!). We particularly enjoyed the operatic flourish with which the young child a few rows in front of us bowed at the completion of the last round of the song.

We wrapped up all of this celebrating by hosting our now-annual holiday cookie party on Sunday night. It’s always fun to sample the variety of confections, and this year was no exception. We had quite a mix of styles and cultural origins this year, with a nice representation of classics in the form of chocolate chip, oatmeal, and sugar as well. Word of a party with nearly unlimited access to sweets appears to have gotten out among the under-8 crowd, and the children-to-adult ratio tilted quite dramatically this year. We are pleased to report that our friends, colleagues and neighbors are doing exceptionally well at instilling manners in their (many) young offspring; our household fabrics thank you, and you and yours are welcome back any time! In addition to being just a general good time, the party spurred us to finally deal with all of the furniture and household goods displaced through various acquisitions and basement trouble this year. After a whirlwind of preparation, it’s wonderful to look around and see shelves, tables, and sideboards in their proper places, and to have boxes of our family treasures stored in tidy piles in the (clean!) attic rather than in the center of our offices. It certainly doesn’t hurt to have tins of cookies on those tables, either.

Our plans for the coming week are quite tame compared to all of this. We’ll be celebrating the solstice with our gift exchange on Sunday, and I have a couple of surprises planned as part of our weekend festivities. (They’re surprises; you will have to wait to learn of them.) In the meantime, I will enjoy quiet evenings that involve neither dressing up nor rearranging furniture.

A December sampling of arts in DC

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