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 downtown Columbia’s Lakefront on Lake Kittamaqundi, Centennial Park and Columbia’s village centers. Performances are staged throughout the year at local venues.
Jim Rouse Theatre for the Performing Arts at Wilde Lake High School is a 747-seat theater that hosts high school and community events as well as traveling acts. All tickets are purchased through the organization presenting the performance.
Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods’ Chrysalis Amphitheater hosts concerts and theatrical productions for up to 8,000 people through the stand-alone nonprofit Inner Arbor Trust, which also hosts cultural and community events April through December. Three series provide mostly free performances on the amphitheater stage: family and children’s programming using regional theater troupes, a series of cross-genre performances from orchestral to jazz and cabaret performances that provide intimate shows with noted jazz, rock and Christian performers for the 2019 season.
Merriweather Post Pavilion, an open-air amphitheater in Columbia’s Symphony Woods, has become a major stopping-off point on the pop music circuit, offering everything from rap to folk, from Phish to country singer Jason Aldean.
The Peter and Elizabeth Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center at Howard Community College houses, among other facilities, Smith Theatre, the John G. Monteabaro Recital Hall and a state-of-the-art black box theater.
Candlelight Concerts is a subscription season at Howard Community College that regularly attracts top talent to its chamber music series, and includes a children’s concert series. The society also holds free events throughout the community, from lectures to special performances in special needs and senior citizen facilities and schools.
Chalice Concert Series presents the mid-Atlantic region’s finest chamber musicians in the Owen Brown Interfaith Center’s acoustically dynamic sanctuary addition.
One World Coffeehouse takes place monthly at the Owen Brown Interfaith Center, offering an eclectic blend of folk, blues, world music, jazz and rock.
Second Saturday Cafe hosts the region’s top acts in the jazz, blues and rock genres, performing in the cozy space of Oliver’s Carriage House in Columbia’s Town Center.
Sundays at Three Chamber Music Series brings professional chamber music to Christ Episcopal Church in Columbia.
Sunset Serenades are free concerts in a variety of genres held each Wednesday at Centennial Park from June through August.
Chesapeake Shakespeare Company In-the-Ruins produces two family-friendly plays each June and July inside the remains of the Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park, where it has performed since 2003. The professional company hires actors from the Maryland/D.C. region, and also offers a summer camp.
Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts employs actors, directors, writers, musicians and technicians to immerse young people in the art of performing through a variety of programs.
Howard County Summer Theatre, celebrating its 45th anniversary this year, features family-oriented musicals using youth casts and all-ages companies.
Red Branch Theatre Company produces three to four shows a season, from plays to musicals, contemporary and family works, as a company-in-resident at Drama Learning Center in Columbia
Rep Stage Company, based at Howard Community College, is the county’s first Actors’ Equity troupe, featuring the area’s premier acting talent in challenging plays.
Toby’s Dinner Theatre specializes in Broadway-style musical fare, presented with a live band, professional costuming and inventive staging in the Columbia location, where it is celebrating its 40th season this year.
Columbia Bands is a nonprofit for nonprofessional musicians that performs in three groups — a concert band, a jazz band and a “flute cocktail” — at free community concerts and other events.
The Columbia Jazz Band performs under the auspices of the Columbia Orchestra, playing big band, Latin jazz, blues and standards.
The Columbia Orchestra was founded in 1977. The ensemble, led by music director Jason Love, offers orchestral, jazz and chamber concerts with instrumental works ranging from classic to contemporary composers.
Columbia Pro Cantare is a volunteer choir that presents programs ranging from operatic works to spirituals.
Howard County Concert Orchestra is a professional chamber orchestra that performs classical to contemporary arrangements with anywhere from six to 45 professional musicians.
Peabody Children’s Chorus trains girls and boys ages 6 to 18 with unchanged voices in music from a variety of genres and time periods in five ensembles on two campuses, one of which is in Howard County.
Voices 21 chamber chorus, led by founding director Dr. Jesse Parker, specializes in a cappella music and performs in churches, retirement communities and other venues. The organization is based in southern Howard County with rehearsals in College Park.
ART CENTERS AND MUSEUMS
African Art Museum of Maryland, founded in 1980, is located in Fulton’s Maple Lawn and offers a rare collection of African artifacts and folk art. Staffed entirely by volunteers, including the museum’s founder and director Doris Ligon, the museum offers programs during Women’s History Month and regularly organizes trips to Africa.
Columbia Art Center in the village of Long Reach has provided resources for ceramic artists, photographers, calligraphers, woodworkers and others since 1987. It also hosts a literary series with local poets and authors, and a monthly salon featuring local artists, actors, musicians and others, a rotating gallery of exhibitions and a summer art camp for children.
Howard County Center for the Arts, located in a former elementary school in Ellicott City, houses two galleries in addition to a black-box theater in Ellicott City. It is also the seat of the Howard County Arts Council.
Howard County Center of African American Culture houses African-American memorabilia, artifacts and an art gallery at its Columbia location, and a research library with approximately 10,000 publications and records at Howard Community College.
Local artists also exhibit at the Artists’ Gallery on Ellicott City’s Main Street, The Rouse Company Foundation Gallery at Howard Community College, The Bernice Kish Gallery at Slayton House in Wilde Lake, The Meeting House Gallery in Oakland Mills and informal exhibition spaces at the Bain 50 Plus Center, at shops in historic Ellicott City and elsewhere. Visual artists and crafts people share a handsome and historic complex at Savage Mill.
Columbia Association’s International Book Club meets monthly to discuss a book with multicultural and worldwide themes.
Howard County Poetry and Literature Society — often abbreviated “HoCoPoLitSo” — has been bringing imaginative literary events, workshops and distinguished writers to student and adult audiences since 1974. Saul Bellow, Lucille Clifton, Tyehimba Jess and Mary Oliver have given public readings under the auspices of the community-based not-for-profit.
CJC Jewish Film Series offers four movies with Jewish themes in English, Hebrew and foreign languages with subtitles. Viewings include refreshments as well as an optional discussion.
Columbia Film Society brings the latest in distinguished foreign films to the Horowitz Center at Howard Community College in an annual subscription series. Tickets are sold out for the current season, but sales for the 2019-2020 season begin in July or August.
Howard County has two 14-screen movie theaters offering the latest Hollywood releases:
AMC Columbia Mall 14
Columbia United Artists Theatres Snowden Square 14
Local dance troupes present regular showcases, and a variety of commercial dance studios provide training for a new generation:
Arabesque Dance Company
Arthur Murray Dance Studio
Backstage Dance Studio
Ballet Conservatoire XIV
Ballet with Cindee Velle
b.Funk Dance Company
Central Maryland Youth Ballet
The Dance Dimension
Kinetics Dance Theatre
Misako Ballet Studio
Patuxent Youth Ballet
That’s Dancing Ballroom & Dancesport Center