On Tuesday, Columbia once again will become a magnet for some of the finest artists in the region and nation.
Besides bringing musicians, dancers, actors and visual artists to the community, the fourth annual Columbia Festival of the Arts also will take a step forward in putting Columbia on the nation's cultural map.
Festival director Lynne Nemeth said that while the non-profit event is not on par with Tanglewood, a Massachusetts arts festival, it has become known outside the mid-Atlantic region.
"We're certainly not a tourist destination yet, but we do have people that come in from a pretty wide area -- West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware," Nemeth said. "Among people who are
real aficionados, we've gotten wide recognition." Other arts presenters have even approached Nemeth about bringing artists they represent to Columbia, something Nemeth said "just didn't happen before."
For the second straight year, the festival is included in the New York Times guide to summer festivals, and next year it will be named in Musical America, a directory of festivals and arts organizations nationwide. One nationally syndicated radio program even plays musical recordings made during the festival.
Starting with a staff of two, Nemeth first presented a three-day festival. This year, the festival will continue through July 3 with a staff of 22, including a production crew.
"This year, for the first time, we are actually producing three theater events, instead of just presenting them," she said. "It's a lot of work. It's also very exciting to be able to do that."
Besides featuring nationally known talent such as pianist Andre Watts, jazzman Ahmad Jamal and the ISO Dance Co., the festival is also premiering some Howard County artists this year.
New Stages will put on "The Costume Shop," a comedic play in which characters create each other, in Slayton House in the Wilde Lake Village Center. Tickets will be $10 ($5 for students).
The Howard County Poetry and Literature Society will also put on its first festival event, an evening with author and storyteller Ashley Bryan. The award-winning children's author, who will appear at 7 p.m. on July 1 at the Wilde Lake Interfaith Center, tells African tales and shares the work of African-American poets. Tickets are $5 for all ages.
For many county residents who may not want to go out of their way to buy tickets but still enjoy a good blues trumpet or bluegrass fiddler now and then, the festival will again offer a menu of free Lakefront Performances.
They will include American Indian dancers, a comedy troupe, children's singers, jazz, folk and classical musicians. In addition, crafts displays, roving clowns and a variety of food will add to the mix.
At 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Terence Blanchard, music director for Spike Lee's "Malcolm X" and the musician who played for "Mo' Better Blues," will play his trumpet for the lakefront audience.
And for those who want to participate, the festival will offer aspiring artists a chance to work with the masters in workshops or get tips during performance-demonstrations. ISO Dance -- known for its work in popular music videos and unusual techniques including the use of bungee cords -- and Fred Sherry -- the cellist who directs the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center -- will be among the festival's teachers.
Tickets can be ordered from the festival box office at 381-0545, from noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Admission, which ranges from free for lakefront events to $25 for Andre Watts with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at Merriweather Post Pavilion, only covers a small portion of the festival's cost.
The bulk of the money comes from a host of local and regional corporate sponsors, who contributed more than $295,000. The Columbia Foundation and county, state and regional arts grants added $89,500.
1992 Columbia Festival of the Arts
JUNE 23 7:30 p.m. Cellist Fred Sherry Oakland
JUNE 24 .. ..7:30 p.m. Dance Dimension, Kinetics, Kathy Wildberger/PATH Wilde Lake High School
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. . Festival Forum: Process vs. Product Smith Theatre
JUNE 25 .. . 2 p.m. .. Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (Open Rehearsal) Smith Theatre
.. .. .. .. .6 p.m. .. Maryland Museum of African Art Oakland
.. ... .. .. 8 p.m. .. TMU-NA Theatre: "Real-Time" Slayton House
. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Smith Theatre
JUNE 26 .. ..Noon .. ..ISO, Master-class Slayton House
.. .. .. .. .2 p.m. .. ISO, Performance-demonstration Wilde Lake High School
.. .. .. .. .6 p.m. .. Rockcreek (Bluegrass) Main Stage
.. .. .. .. .7 p.m. .. Douglas Clegg, fiddle, accordion, mandolin, guitar Acoustic Stage
... .. .. . .8 p.m. .. TMU-NA Theatre: "Real-Time" Slayton House
.. .. . .. . .. .. .. .Ahmad Jamal Smith Theatre
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..Margie Calhoun and the New Heartaches (Country) Main Stage
.. .. .. .. .9 p.m. .. Tom Gala and Richard Dreueding Acoustic Stage