Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church


 Summertime offers a more relaxed time to enjoy the variety of arts opportunities that surround us. Free concerts in Fairfax County parks are presented five nights a week – Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays – depending on which park, and which music genre, you choose. Add Saturday morning children’s shows, and your date calendar fills up fast.

Get your lawn chair ready and check out the rest of summer’s offerings at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/performances.

If you missed certain concerts, or want to view them again, check out Annandale Arts on You Tube. Local videographer Bob Kovacs and writer Mary Ellen Dawley are following most of the concerts at Mason District Park and Ossian Hall Park, and have posted them at www.YouTube/user/AnnandaleArts. It’s a terrific way to catch up, and the quality of the video and audio makes it seem you were there in person!

If painting and visual arts appeal to you, Green Spring Gardens Park is showing watercolors (including gorgeous silk panels) by Mason District resident Sharon Safran, and oils by Penny McGrath in the Horticultural Center. At the Manor House, paintings by Marnie Maree are on display. These shows will be up until August 27. The park address is 4601 Green Spring Road, but you enter at Witch Hazel Drive from Braddock Road. Admission is free.

Take a trip to France and Italy via the photography of Larry Rood, currently on display in my office at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale. Larry’s digital photography captures the art, architecture, and muted colors of Old Europe. Perhaps most fascinating is a quartet of “Living Stone” photos, ghostly re-enactors who merit a double-take, just to be sure! You can view Larry’s work on-line at www.workhousearts.org/LarryRood. The Lorton Arts Foundation (LAF) is another terrific venue to see artists in action in their studios. Although not in Mason District, LAF offers classes, galleries, and more at the historic Workhouse, formerly the D.C. prison. The architecture of the old prison buildings alone is worth a visit, but I like to watch the artistry of the glassblowers, potters, and woodworkers, too. LAF is located at 9601 Ox Road (Route 123) in Lorton, just north of Occoquan. Admission is free.

Fairfax County also is home to two widely acclaimed orchestras – the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra (FSO) and the Virginia Chamber Orchestra (VCO). Founded more than 50 years ago, the symphony, now under the direction of Maestro Christopher Zimmerman performs regularly at the George Mason University Center for the Arts. The musicians also present introductory musical experiences for children via FSO’s Overture to Orchestra summer series. The brass quintet plays this Saturday at the 10 a.m. children’s show at Mason District Park. Log on to www.fairfaxsymphony.org for schedules and more information about the FSO.

The Virginia Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Emil de Cou, performs at the Northern Virginia Community College Annandale campus. Now in its 41st season, VCO also participates in television productions beamed to thousands of public schools, affording music appreciation to underserved areas. VCO’s programs recently were expanded to serve Wounded Warriors and Our Military Kids. VCO operates with an all-volunteer board and no paid staff. To find out more, log on to www.virginiachamberorchestra.org.

Soften the hard edges of life. Go out and enjoy the arts!


Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at mason@fairfaxcounty.gov