No Horsin around the Barns at Wolf Trap


To some music fans, the simple act of listening to a favorite piece can be a spiritual experience.  The enlightenment gained by being swept up into the thrusts of a dramatic concerto or a heartbreaking aria is limitless. 

For these audio aficionados, the Barns at Wolf Trap might just serve as a 275-year-old mausoleum of melody, a temple that holds public services over eighty times a year for the past two decades. 

An indoor companion to the larger Filene Center amphitheater, the Barns would not have existed if not for the diligence of Wolf Traps founder, philanthropist Catherine Filene Shouse.  Harkening back to her childhood days in turn-of-the-century Massachusetts, Shouse fondly recalled the autumn dances held in similar animal enclaves and decided that the informal yet acoustically appealing structure would be the ideal architecture for a year-round structure that her organization was trying to create towards the end of the 1970s.

Behind the leadership of Master Builder / historian Richard Babcock, two massive wooden buildings were disassembled from their original home in the Schoharie Valley of upstate New York and then reassembled on a 26-acre plot of land that Ms. Shouse donated for the project in Vienna, where the Barns still stand. 

The finished product is as stunning today as it was the first day the doors were opened to the public on October 4th, 1981.  With wide wooden beams jutting across its ceiling and walls made from smooth yet solid auburn timber, the concert hall feels imposing while at the same time intimate.  The overall earthy aura is the perfect setting for any kind of music, which is fortunate, given the voluminous choices that are regularly offered.  From opera to blues, rock to classical, folk to fusion, the annual array seems endless.

A highlight to the Barns calendar is the Discovery Series, a program that serves as a shining example for Wolf Traps mission of sharing within the capitol region a diverse spectrum of music.  But, dont let the name fool you.  Not every performance in this series features unknown musicians.

We try to mix grand masters in classical music like David Finkel & Wu Han, the artistic directors of chamber music at the Lincoln Center in New York (wholl close the season on April 25th) along with brand new artists, explains Kim Witman, Wolf Traps opera director and a member of the series selection committee for all twelve years of the sessions production.

We use the term discovery since this series allows patrons an insight into the lives of musicians.  There is more Q & A with the artists and more discussion of their craft, their instrumentation, and what their normal day-to-day activities are.

Yet, one of the more appealing acts within the series line-up is Americas Dream Chamber Artists (ADCA), a debut group wholl offer up a progressive spin to their trade on January 18th.

There were so many reasons to include them to this years schedule, states Witman.  Theyre of course very talented.  Also, the ADCA is trying to break down the stoic misconception of chamber music with their young ages, their casual dress, and their open personality in sharing what their music represents.  Finally, theres a region connection with the groups co-founder, Joey Amini.

For Amini, a thirty-two-year-old cellist who moved north to earn his Masters degree at Julliard, the ADCAs appearance at the Barns will be a homecoming ten years in the making.

I lived in Fairfax from 1982-85, explains Amini, a fan of all music, even Carrie Underwood.  I attended Mosby Woods Elementary and played in the Northern VA Youth Symphony, conducted by Dingwall Fleary.  I went to high school in Rockville, where my parents have lived since 1988  Ive already performed at the Barns once before, during a band competition as a teenager, but believe me Im extremely excited for this opportunity to perform in front of my family and friends again.