New business promotes artists with autism

An array of Zenaviv’s products featuring artwork created by people with autism

Brightly colored paintings decorate the home of Harish and Sandhya Bikmal, an Ashburn couple with two teenage sons.

Their older son, Saket, 17, is a rising senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria. Himal, 15, who will attend Briar Woods High School in the fall, was diagnosed with profound autism when he was 2.

As Himal’s parents came to terms with his diagnosis, they worried about his future.

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The Washington Post, June 18, 2017

Uncertain future for Round Hill jam sessions

On the last Friday of every month, musicians converge on the Old Furniture Factory in Round Hill, toting stringed instruments of all sizes, from mandolins to upright basses. Before long, they are standing in small clusters, picking and singing, filling the room with strains of bluegrass and old-time country music.

For 14 years, the informal sessions have attracted singers, instrumentalists and fans from the Washington area and beyond. But the future of the jams is uncertain. The Old Furniture Factory is for sale, and bluegrass enthusiasts fear the music will end when the building changes hands.

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The Washington Post, June 4, 2017

Kids learn about Shakespeare on Saturdays

Loudoun Country Day School students rehearse a scene from Shakespeare’s “Much Ado about Nothing” in the school library.

In between the usual Saturday activities — soccer, ballet, taekwondo — a group of 9- and 10-year-olds from Loudoun Country Day School are learning to “crack the code” of William Shakespeare.

About a dozen fourth- and fifth-graders attend voluntary Saturday morning classes at the Leesburg-area private school to learn how to understand and perform Shakespeare’s works. The school’s headmaster, Randy Hollister, leads the classes.

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The Washington Post, April 16, 2017

Mixed-arts celebration in Sterling

“Springtime in Winter” opening in Reston

Local painters, poets and musicians will celebrate the transition from winter to spring in a presentation of original works Saturday on the Sterling campus of Northern Virginia Community College.

The event is the culmination of a months-long collaborative process, in which eight pairs of poets and artists created poems and paintings around the theme “Springtime in Winter.”

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The Washington Post, March 19, 2017

Loudoun woman’s memoir tells how a violent crime shook her faith in God

When Ruth Everhart was a senior at a small Christian college, she and four of her roommates were held captive and brutally raped at gunpoint by two masked intruders.

Although she survived the ordeal, she was filled with shame and worried that she had been “ruined” — in the eyes of God, her family and the man she might one day marry. Her devastating experience shook her faith in God, and eventually led her to break with the conservative Protestant denomination in which she had been raised.

Last year, Everhart, 59, of Sterling, published her memoir, “Ruined,” in which she recounts the crime in detail and traces the twists and turns her life took in the months and years that followed. She tells how that journey took her through dark places — a breakup with her boyfriend, an affair with a married man, and conflicts with friends and family.

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The Washington Post, Feb. 12, 2017

H.S. performance of Ghost the Musical draws notice

A special guest was watching Jan. 27 as students from Rock Ridge High School in Ashburn gave a spirited performance of “Ghost the Musical.”

Jim Hoare, an executive with Theatrical Rights Worldwide, traveled from New York to view the students’ interpretation of a version of the Broadway musical that was adapted for use by high school theater groups. He wanted to observe several innovations the students made in set design and stagecraft, to see whether other schools could also use them.

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The Washington Post, Feb. 5, 2017

Dancing for fun

Adam King demonstrates the tango

As the holidays were winding down, about a dozen people showed up at Dance King Studios in downtown Leesburg on Monday evening to socialize and learn some new moves.

They stood along the mango-colored walls as owner Adam King demonstrated the Argentine tango. Then they moved hesitantly onto the dance floor, some staring at their feet as they practiced the steps.

As the evening wore on, the dancers grew more relaxed, buoyed by King’s infectious smile and words of encouragement. Before long, they were laughing and moving more confidently to the music’s rhythms.

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The Washington Post, Jan. 8, 2017

Car Seat Headrest in the News – Jan. 2017

“Their ability to manipulate an entire room of people into becoming the most attentive audience I’ve ever seen is incredible, and indicative of their great talents.”

–Annie Cooper on the interns, Jan. 30, 2017

“This was one of those gigs that you leave with guitar hooks ricocheting around your head, Will’s face swimming before your eyes, and vocals surging up inside you.”

–Margy Noble in The AU Review, Jan. 28, 2017

“…a solo performance from Will would be a rare treat and was sure that he would’ve held that room in the palm of his hand even if all he was left with was a kazoo and maybe a pair of castanets. He’s just that talented.”

–Nick Wagstaff on Moshcam, Jan. 27, 2017

“Car Seat Headrest Explain What’s Up With That Smash Mouth Collaboration”

–Matthew Strauss on Pitchfork, Jan. 26, 2017

“Car Seat Headrest’s Will Toledo Talks Smash Mouth Plans”

–Peter Helman on Stereogum, Jan. 25, 2017

“Fans of indie rockers Car Seat Headrest may be in for a surprise solo show tonight in Sydney from frontman Will Toledo, as the band have announced members Ethan Ives, Andrew Katz and Seth Dalby have been caught up with flight delays.”

The  Music (Australia), Jan. 25, 2017

“The maker might be aloof and measured in person, but this record is anything but, with brash lyrical couplets bolted to guitar music that’s vivid, muscular, ambitious, unpredictable.”

–Grant Smithies in Stuff (New Zealand), Jan. 22, 2017

“[Will Toledo] reveals how he grew his passion from a cult following to a record deal, the people who inspired his journey, finding motivation as an artist and why we should check out Car Seat Headrest at Laneway.

–Fiona O’Connor on Concrete Playground, Jan. 18, 2017

“You dreams have been answered: Smash Mouth and Car Seat Headrest look like they are going to make a record together.”

Happy Mag, Jan. 18, 2017

“Smash Mouth have expressed their appreciation of Car Seat Headrest on Twitter before, but now their beautiful online bromance could be blossoming into something more.”

–Peter Helman on Stereogum, Jan. 17, 2017

“…a critically-acclaimed follow-up that captures a youthful and all-too-familiar time of experimentation and discovery.”

–johnnysomebody re: Teens of Denial on The Telescope, Jan. 16, 2017

“Yes they’ve been around for a few years, but they really broke through this year as a new hope for alternative rock.”

–JT on The Bolg, Jan. 14, 2017

“2016’s Teens of Denial, echoed my reality like no other indie rock album has been able to.”

–Jennifer Park on Noisey, Jan. 13, 2017

“…an exhilarating ride…”

–Ed Masley re: “Teens of Denial” in the Arizona Republic, Jan. 13, 2017

“…most of their songs start soft and mellow and quickly build into blaring indie-rock tunes that you can’t help but sing/scream along to…”

–Mariella on KXSU (Seattle University), Jan. 10, 2017

“Thirteen albums in, Car Seat Headrest is on its way.”

–Iain Shedden in The Australian, Jan. 7, 2017

“The record was actually recorded back in 2014 when [Will] Marsh was an undergrad at William & Mary, with help from Marsh’s classmate: Car Seat Headrest mastermind Will Toledo, who produced, engineered, and mixed it in addition to contributing drums, electric guitar, bass, and backing vocals.”

–Chris DeVille Re: “New Religion” by Cold Connections on Stereogum, Jan. 5, 2017

“Will Toledo captures the post modern atmosphere in the most sincere and eloquent ways possible – confessing his anxious thoughts, and wrapping them around haunting melodies.”

–John Naessig on StGA, Jan. 4, 2017

Piano Company is thriving downtown

Transporting more than 100 pianos across town last spring, from Battlefield Shopping Center to Market Street in downtown Leesburg, was no easy task. In fact, Robert Purdon, general manager of the Piano Company, described the move as “a logistical nightmare.”

But after 16 years at the store’s previous site, Purdon is happy with the shift to the current location, near the Loudoun County Government Center.

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Washington Post, Jan. 1, 2017

Autographs of Herbie Hancock, Randy Weston, and others can be seen inside the $250,000 Fazioli concert grand on display at the store.

Neapolitan crèche in The Plains

Except for a lone cow, the stable stands empty in the Nativity scene at Grace Episcopal Church in the Fauquier County town of The Plains.

The creche is unlike those commonly seen in churches and front yards beginning the month before Christmas, typically featuring figures of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus in the stable, often joined by shepherds, angels, wise men and animals.

Instead, the scene is an imaginative, highly detailed, miniature representation of life in the city of Bethlehem. Townspeople are seen going about their daily business of baking bread, weaving fabric and even taking a nap. As the holiday approaches, more figures will be added to the scene to illustrate the Christmas story.

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The Washington Post, Dec. 18, 2016