he McLean Orchestra is preparing to team up with Meadowlark Gardens for its second annual free concert on the great lawn of the botanical facility. The concert, held on Sept. 19, will preview the musical season for the orchestra which features a spy theme titled “Classified.” “We’re calling this performance 'Ears Only' — it’s too secret to commit to words,” said Nedra Agnew with the McLean Orchestra.
The spy theme is derived from the new location for the orchestra this year. “All the concerts will be at Oakcrest School this year. It’s near Langley so there’s the CIA connection,” said Agnew.
Last year nearly 400 people from around the area attended the free concert. Organizers are hoping to double that number this year.
“It’s open to absolutely everyone. Anyone who wants to come out is welcome, except for the family dog,” Agnew said. Give-aways, such as tickets to future performances this season, will be given away during the evening.
“We do this as an opportunity to introduce people to the orchestra. Developing an appreciation for classical music is important. Especially for children who don’t get that in school anymore,” said Agnew.
“This gives people a chance to sample the McLean Orchestra, bring a picnic lunch and enjoy. It’s all free. Meadowlark allows picnics during this concert but they don’t normally,” Agnew said.
For the special event, caterer Marvelous Market will be providing picnic call-ins similar to those offered for concerts held at Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts.
KEITH TOMLINSON OF MEADOWLARK Gardens said they host the McLean Orchestra because “We believe music and beautiful places go together. People always enjoy a concert in an outdoor venue.”
Kathy Calhoun attended the concert last year with her husband and two young children. “It was really very nice. It was at a different time last year, more in the summer, but it was really nice. I would never find the time to walk in the gardens and probably couldn’t convince my husband to take me to see a[n orchestral] performance but by combining the events we were able to do both,” said Calhoun.
“It was nice for the boys to be exposed to the music and good to spend a few hours together like that. I would certainly go back this year,” Calhoun said.
Tomlinson says the grounds can easily accommodate 600 to 800 people. “This is a perfect place for it. We plan on growing the event,” Tomlinson said.
Meadowlark Gardens is also offering concert attendees a ticket to come back at a later date and enjoy the grounds. Tomlinson contends the more people that come out to see and enjoy the park, the better it is for Meadowlark Gardens. “This is a nice community service for everyone,” Tomlinson said.
The picnic idea has proved so popular since it was introduced last year that officials at Meadowlark Gardens are considering holding some on their own in the future. “We’re going to start scheduling some sunset picnics. Maybe as early as this fall,” said Tomlinson.
Meadowlark Gardens is located in Vienna at 9750 Meadowlark Gardens Court. The grounds open for the event at 5 p.m. and the concert begins half an hour later.