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Howard County's arts scene

The 2018 Guide to Howard County

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.


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.


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 Peter Frampton to deadmau5. A second amphitheater, the Chrysalis, opened at Symphony Woods last year and can host concerts for up to 7,000 people.


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.



Candlelight Concerts is a subscription season at Howard Community College that regularly attracts top talent, including a jazz and children’s concert series and theater productions.


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 weekly concerts in a variety of genres at Centennial Park, running from June through August.



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 performs family-oriented musicals at local high schools, using youth casts and all-ages companies.

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 has hosted performances for more than 30 seasons.


Red Branch Theatre Company in Columbia produces four to five shows a season, including contemporary and family works.


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.



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 Orchestra was founded in 1977. The ensemble, led by Music Director Jason Love, offers 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, and the area’s only full orchestral and choral performance of Handel’s “Messiah.”


The Columbia Jazz Band now performs under the auspices of the Columbia Orchestra, playing big band, Latin jazz, blues and standards.


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 six 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.



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.


Columbia Art Center in the village of Long Reach has provided resources for ceramic artists, photographers, calligraphers, woodworkers and others since 1987. It also houses a rotating gallery of exhibitions and a summer art camp for children


Howard County Center for the Arts, located in a former elementary school, now 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 and artifacts, an art gallery and a library with more than 10,000 publications and other artifacts. The center also sponsors a monthly book club


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 and elsewhere. Visual artists and crafts people share a handsome and historic complex at Savage Mill.


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, Edward Albee, Seamus Heaney and Lucille Clifton have given public readings under the auspices of the community-based not-for-profit.



Columbia Film Society brings the latest in distinguished foreign films to the Horowitz Center at Howard Community College in an annual subscription series.

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.


Howard County has two 14-screen movie theaters offering the latest Hollywood releases:

Columbia United Artists Theatres Snowden Square 14

844-462-7342, ext. 570

AMC Columbia Mall 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


b.Funk Dance Company


Backstage Dance Studio


Ballet with Cindee Velle


The Dance Dimension


Genesis Arts


Howard County Ballet


Kinetics Dance Theatre, 410-480-1686

Misako Ballet Studio


Patuxent Youth Ballet


Studio Dans


That’s Dancing Ballroom & Dancesport Center


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