One area Howard County can certainly boast about is its vibrant arts scene, with an abundance of choices that include theater, music and dance companies, as well as free outdoor concerts at Lake Kittamaqundi, Centennial Park and Columbia’s village centers. Performances are staged throughout the year at local venues, which include:
> The Peter and Elizabeth Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center at Howard Community College houses, among other facilities, the John G. Monteabaro Recital Hall, as well as a state-of-the-art black box theater. 443-518-1490.
> Merriweather Post Pavilion This open-air amphitheater in Columbia’s Symphony Woods has become a major stopping-off point on the pop-star circuit, offering everything from rap to folk, from Kenny Chesney to Elvis Costello. 410-715-5550 or www.merriweathermusic.com.
> Smith Theater at Howard Community College, 443-518-1490.
> Jim Rouse Theatre for the Performing Arts at Wilde Lake High School, 410-997-1317.
> Columbia Festival of the Arts The annual Columbia Festival of the Arts (CFA) was founded in 1989. Musical artists as varied as Wynton Marsalis, Arlo Guthrie, Aretha Franklin, Dave Brubeck and Emmylou Harris have performed at CFA, as well as dance troupes like MOMIX, Alvin Ailey and Ballet Hispanico. By featuring area artists alongside top-name talents, the festival has forged its own identity and established itself as one of the leading area summer celebrations of the arts. 410-715-3044 or www.columbiafestival.com.
> Candlelight Concerts Its subscription season regularly attracts top talents like Awadagin Pratt, the Tokyo String Quartet, the Billy Taylor Trio and pianist Richard Goode. Other components include a jazz and children’s concert series and theater productions. 410-997-2324 or www.candlelightconcerts.org.
> Music at Marriottsville At Bon Secours Spiritual Center. 410-442-1320 or www.bonsecoursspiritualcenter.org
> Sundays at Three Chamber music series at Christ Episcopal Church in Columbia. 410-992-0145 or www.sundaysatthree.org.
> Columbia Pro Cantare This world-class volunteer choir presents programs of American standards and the area’s only full orchestral and choral performance of Handel’s “Messiah.” www.procantare.org.
> Columbia Orchestra In its 33rd year, this ensemble led by conductor Jason Love offers concerts with instrumental works ranging from classic to contemporary composers. 410-465-8777 or www.columbiaorchestra.org.
> Musicians and singers of all ages have a variety of outlets for their talents, ranging from the Maryland Children’s Singers and the Howard County Children’s Chorus to the Heart of Maryland Chorus/Barbershop Harmony Society and the Elkridge-based Sweet Adelines chorus to the Maryland Youth Symphony and the Greater Baltimore Youth Orchestra. Several clubs and festivals offer regular “open mike” nights.
> Toby’s Dinner Theatre specializes in Broadway-style musical fare, presented with a live band, professional costuming and inventive staging. 410-730-8311 or www.tobysdinnertheatre.com.
> Rep Stage Company Based at Howard Community College, this is the county’s first Actors’ Equity troupe, featuring the area’s premier acting talent in challenging plays. 443-518-1500 or www.repstage.org.
> Community stages include Columbia Community Players, Columbia School for Theatrical Arts, Howard County Summer Theatre, Kittamaqundi Players, Drama Learning Center, Summer Actors Institute and Young Artists Theatre in Laurel.
ART CENTERS AND MUSEUMS
> African Art Museum of Maryland Housed at Columbia’s Historic Oakland for the past 20 years, it offers a rare collection of African artifacts and folk art. Relocation is in progress. For updates, go to www.africanartmuseum.org.
> Columbia Art Center Since 1987, the center in the village of Long Reach has provided resources for ceramic artists, photographers, calligraphers, woodworkers and others. 410-730-0075 or www.columbiaartcenter.org.
> Howard County Center for the Arts houses some 30 artists and arts groups and is the seat of the Howard County Arts Council and three art galleries. 410-313-ARTS or www.hocoarts.org.
> Howard County Center of African American Culture houses African-American memorabilia and artifacts, an art gallery and a library with more than 2,000 publications and exhibits. The center also sponsors a monthly book club called Book Ends. 410-715-1921 or www.hccaac.org.
> Local artists also exhibit at the Artists’ Gallery in the American City Building, The Rouse Company Foundation Gallery at Howard Community College, Slayton House Gallery in Wilde Lake Village, Margaret Smith Gallery in Ellicott City, Board of Education Professional Gallery, and more informal exhibit spaces at the Bain Center and elsewhere. Visual artists and craftspeople share a handsome and historic complex at Savage Mill.
> Howard County Poetry and Literature Society Since 1974, “HoCoPoLitSo” has been bringing imaginative literary events, workshops and distinguished writers to student and adult audiences. Such first-rate authors and poets as Saul Bellow, Edward Albee, Seamus Heaney and Lucille Clifton have given public readings under the auspices of HoCoPoLitSo. 443-518-4568 or www.HoCoPoLitSo.org.
> Columbia Film Society An annual subscription series that brings the latest in distinguished foreign films to Columbia. www.columbiafilmsociety.org
> Marvelous Movies: A Classic Film Series at Columbia’s Slayton House shows four films each year including rare British and American gems. 410-730-3987.
> Jewish Film Series This annual series offers four movies with Jewish themes in English, Hebrew and foreign languages with subtitles. 410-997-0694 or www.columbiajewish.org/film_series.shtml.
> United Artists Theatres Snowden Square, 410-872-0670.
> AMC Columbia Mall 14, 888-262-4386.
Local dance troupes present regular showcases, and a variety of commercial dance studios provide training for a new generation:
Arabesque Dance Company
Arthur Murray Ballroom and Latin Dance Studio
b.Funk Dance Company
Backstage Dance Studio
Ballet Royale Institute of Maryland
Ballet with Cindee Velle
Eva Anderson Dancers
Howard County Ballet
Kinetics Dance Theatre
Misako Ballet Studio
One for All Dance Academy
Patuxent Youth Ballet
Phoenix Rising Dance Studio
That’s Dancing Ballroom & Dancesport Center