Music has a way of transcending the limited simplicity of words, and it often invokes a greater depth of emotion.
It is with music that Reston native Kelsey Burch, a music teacher at Coates, Sunrise Valley and Vienna elementary schools, is finding her solace as she has navigated an arduous journey through cancer and recently going into remission.
While on this journey, Burch’s passion for music has led her to launch an effort to raise $14,000 on GoFundMe to commission two pieces of music – one of which is a Grade I piece for her elementary students – from composer Brian Balmages, who has agreed to take on the projects.
“It’ll be huge. I mean, the one for my students, it’s just something I always wanted to do. Cancer makes you think about life is short and if I don’t do it now then it won’t happen,” Burch said.
The second piece is what Burch hopes can be a tale of her journey through cancer.
“In the middle of the night, I was thinking about it and then was like, why don’t I do something about my cancer journey? And it made me think of it because Brian wrote a piece that premiered in February called ‘Love and Light’ for a flute player in the Army Band who had a stillborn baby,” Burch said.
“So that’s kind of what spurred me, and I could commission something about what I’ve been through with the heartache and the joy of going through a cancer diagnosis and naturally being in remission.”
In March, Burch was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. Along with a tumor in the colon, the cancer had metastasized in her lymph nodes, liver and abdominal wall.
She underwent the treatment with support from her husband, Rob, her family and an extended group of friends and colleagues. The emergence of COVID-19 didn’t allow for Burch to have visitors with her during each treatment. But the immediate support from her family and friends, to Zoom calls and Facebook Messenger conversations, to a surprise of 100 birthday cards in June, the well wishes and her support group stayed with her through it all.
“People I haven’t talked to for years, from college or people I grew up with, were messaging me and saying they’re thinking about me and supporting me,” Burch said.
“You know, I was getting all these gifts in the mail, and I feel like the support has been overwhelming and I feel like if anything, I’ve gotten closer with all my friends and family during this time, rather than further away. So that’s been wonderful.”
After four months of treatment and eight rounds of chemotherapy, Burch received the news that she was in remission. She has continued to undergo maintenance chemotherapy treatment for what she assumes will be for life, and will undergo a CT or PET scan every three months to check for any signs that cancer has returned.
With her cancer in remission and a determination to share her journey through music and provide a commissioned piece for her students, Burch is looking toward the future. She is also looking to share the experience in one of the most effective ways she knows.
“I think it is hard to pick specific words to explain what it’s like, and I think that’s why I want music to explain that,” Burch said. “(Having) my journey be explained through something so creative is, I think, more than I can do with words. I can write my journal and give you my thoughts, but I feel like music is what’s really going to showcase everything I’ve been through.”
If the fundraising goal is met, the timeline for the Grade I piece would have it delivered by the spring, while the piece written to tell Burch’s journey would be set for a year and a half from now.
More information regarding Burch’s GoFundMe for this cause can be found here.
Photos courtesy Kelsey Burch
Lovers of independent films can check out the Vidi Space Film Festival in Reston this weekend, which features films and panels from celebrities.
The festival which will take place on Saturday (Feb. 22) at Bow Tie Cinemas (11940 Market Street) was originally created to “encapsulate all haunted, unknown and supernatural things,” according to the event page.
Independent filmmakers were invited to submit their independent films through the end of 2019, the website said, and the films will be judged in various categories. They will receive awards for things like best actor and best experimental feature.
“As filmmakers ourselves, our mission is to promote independent filmmakers and provide a platform for a new audience to appreciate your work,” the event page said.
Tickets start at around $100 for a day pass and tickets for individual films start at $10.
Tomorrow (Feb. 22)
Stuff the Bus (9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) — At this charity event, people can go to Fox mill Giant (2551 John Milton Drive) in Herndon and donate food toward families in need through Helping Hungry Kids.
Dazzle Dance — Hit the Red Carpet (6 to 8 p.m. ) — Families in Reston can attend a gala at Life Time Athletic (1757 Business Center Drive) where they will be treated with appetizers, a DJ and a red carpet. Tickets are $20 and kids under four are free.
Jazz Pianist Quentin Walston (6:30 to 9:30 p.m.) — Lake Anne Coffee House & Wine Bar (1612 Washington Plaza) will host a concert for people featuring this upcoming artist. People are invited to come to try a selection of wine and enjoy the free music.
Sunday (Feb. 23)
Empower Hip Hop Dance Class for Dancers with Special Needs (4 to 9 p.m.) — Monsters Dance will host a hip-hop dance class for those with special needs at the Hyatt Regency Reston (1800 Presidents Street). “In keeping with Monsters’ mission to provide dancers with real opportunities, these unique eMpower classes allow dancers with special needs the chance to express themselves in a fun and safe environment,” the event listing said.
Classical music fans have the opportunity to attend a concert and hear from the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Greater Washington this Saturday.
The musicians will be available after the concert for a meet and greet reception.
Tomorrow (Jan. 25)
- YMCA Board Games (10 a.m.-noon) — The Reston YMCA (12196 Sunset Hills Road) invites the public to gather and play some board games with the community. The Starting Player Pop-Up will provide games for this free event.
Reston’s 7th Annual Camp Expo (9 a.m.-noon) — The Reston Community Center (2310 Colts Neck Road) offers people to come and sample the various opportunities for kids in the summer. There will be dozens of organizations in attendance. Attendees can expect snacks, music and games.
Sunday (Jan. 26)
- “Meat: A Threat to Our Planet?” (1-2:30 p.m.) — This film screening allows people to watch a documentary originally aired by BBC in 2019 but isn’t yet available in the U.S. Admission is free, and snacks will be provided.
- #BESTLife Goal Diggers January Meeting (12:45-2 p.m.) — People hoping to keep up with their New Year’s resolutions can meet up to discuss tactics and progress. This event is for anyone 18+ and will take place at La Madeleine French Bakery & Cafe Reston (1833 Fountain Drive). The event is free and people are encouraged to register.
This Sunday (Jan. 18), the Liner Notes will perform “Music of the Movement.”
In this performance, the group will explore musical themes and the history of the Civil Rights Movement during the 1950s and 1960s.
The performance is set to take place at CenterStage at the Reston Community Center (2310 Colts Neck Road) from 2 to 3:30 p.m. and tickets cost $15 for Reston residents.
“Always striving to care for its audience, Liner Notes revisits this turbulent time in our history with authenticity, thoughtfulness and integrity, drawing connections and examining the intersections with the adversity still prevalent today,” according to the event page.
Tomorrow (Jan. 18)
- Book Launch Celebration for Laura Renauld (11 a.m. to noon) — Children’s book author Laura Renauld will be at Scrawl Books (11911 Freedom Drive) for a meet and greet along with a book signing to debut her new book “Fred’s Big Feelings: The Life and Legacy of Mr. Rogers.” This event is free and open to the public.
- Wine Tasting (2 to 5 p.m.) — Balducci’s Food Lover’s Market (1871 Fountain Drive) will host a wine tasting with various wines and food. There will be experts on-site to help answer questions and suggest pairings.
Sunday (Jan. 19)
- Adoption Fair at Just Cats in Reston (1 to 3 p.m.) — Anyone looking for a new furry friend can stop by the Just Cats Clinic (1601 Washington Plaza) to play with adoptable cats and see if they find a good match.
- Self Guided Painting (3 to 7 p.m.) — Guests will have the chance to work off temples to paint various items during this opportunity for independent creation at Pinot’s Palette (12976 Highland Crossing Drive). The cost for this event is $25.
Photo via Reston Community Center/Facebook
From Feb. 20 through March 15 at NextStop Theatre (269 Sunset Park Drive), people can enjoy a production that walks viewers through the lives of four young New Yorkers discovering how their paths intersect.
The event page described “Ordinary Days” as “A simple yet heartfelt story about how we search for and make connections in an increasingly chaotic world.”
This specific production was directed by Jay Brock and will star Bobby Libby, Sarah Anne Sillers, Carl Williams and Anna Phillips-Brown.
Ticket prices range from $44-55 and can be reserved online.
Image via NextStop Theatre
The Reston Rotary Rise Against Hunger fundraising event this Saturday will donate meals to kids and families in need.
People are invited to pack meals alongside Rotary members at Aldrin Elementary School (11375 Center Harbor Road) from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Anyone interested can sign up online for a shift or donate if they are unable to attend.
Once the goal of 10,000 meals is met, extra funds will ensure that kids in the area have the winter clothes they need, help the Reston Community Orchestra, assist kids with scholarships and send books to students in Nyeri, Kenya.
- Make Shift Happen: The Storytellers Experience (10 a.m. to 9 p.m.) — This day-long event invites people to learn about themselves and become better storytellers. This event takes place at The Lake House (11450 Baron Cameron Avenue) and includes meditation, guest speakers, trust workshops and more. General admission tickets are $200.
- Jazz (6:30 p.m) — Watch a live performance by pianist Caleb Nei at the Lake Anne Coffee House and Wine Bar (1612 N. Washington Plaza). This event is free and open to the public.
- Tween Dodgeball (5 to 9 p.m.) — Kids ages 9-12 are welcome to get some exercise at Life Time Athletic (1757 Business Center Drive). Everyone will be placed in a bracket and encouraged to compete.
Sunday (Jan. 12)
- Kickstart your Sweatlife 2020 (8 to 10 a.m.) — Reston Town Center Lululemon is hosting workouts and goal setting events for patrons. People are welcome to gather and take a run with instructors Brian and Erica. This event is free and open to the public.
- 2 Silos Brewing Co. Tasting (noon to 3 p.m.) — Try some beer from 2 Silos Brewing Co. at Safeway (11120 S. Lakes Drive) including Citralicious and Cream Ale brews. There will be giveaways available for attendees.
- Sunday Afternoon Dance (2:30 to 4 p.m.) — The Reston Community Center welcomes people of all skill levels to enjoy an afternoon of cha-cha, swing, waltz or foxtrot dancing. Admission is $5 for Reston residents and $10 for others. Admission includes a short lesson, refreshments and door prizes.
Image via Rotary Club of Reston/Facebook
(Updated) In the holiday spirit, the Reston Town Center Holiday Performances this weekend are among several events bringing together people from around the community.
The free event tomorrow (Saturday) will feature two performances. People can listen to the Northern VA Ukulele Ensemble. The last performance of the season will feature Rick Landers playing guitar from 3-3:45 p.m.
The performances are set to take place between Market Street and Democracy Drive.
- 4th Annual Children’s Winter Wonderland (11 a.m.-2 p.m.) — The kids’ wonderland event will take place at the Reston Community Center (2310 Colts Neck Road). Families will be able to enjoy crafts, refreshments, face painting, games and a visit from Santa.
- SBC December Gala (1-3 p.m.) — This event features ballet and musical performances at South Lakes High School (11400 South Lakes Drive). Tickets are $35 for adults and $25 for kids.
- Cissa Paz Music (6:30-9:30 p.m.) — Artist Cissa Paz will perform Brazillian music at the Lake Anne Coffee House & Wine Bar (1612 N. Washington Plaza).
- Christmas Party Ho-Ho-Hoedown (8 p.m.-midnight) — Sully’s Pour House (754 Elden Street) is hosting a holiday celebration with a white elephant gift exchange, raffle and an ugly sweater contest.
Sunday (Dec. 22)
- Christmas Orchestra (9-10 a.m.) — This free event at the Herndon United Methodist (701 Bennett Street) gives community members a chance to listen to live instrumental music from their fellow community members.
- Bootcamp, Brunch and Booze: Indoor Winter Series (9-11 a.m.) — This event features a workout from Fitness 2 Go along with brunch from LoKL Gourmet at 12001 Sunrise Valley Drive. Tickets are $25.
- Storytime Social (11 a.m.) — Scrawl Books (11911 Freedom Drive) invites families to a reading of “Let the Children March.” This free event includes snacks and coffee for the adults.
Photo via Reston Community Center Facebook
The Reston Community Orchestra is putting on a family-friendly holiday sing-along this Saturday (Dec. 14).
“Nuttin’ Like A Nutcracker” will take place at 4 p.m. in Aldrin Elementary School (11375 Center Harbor Road) and feature the elementary school’s ukelele ensemble. Everyone is welcome, regardless of vocal ability.
Attendees are invited to bring kazoos and other musical instruments. While the event is free, people are asked to donate $20 for adults or $10 per child or senior citizen.
This event is part of the orchestra’s 2019 Holiday Concert series.
Photo via Reston Community Orchestra/Facebook
Two Reston families said they’ve been waiting months to get their money back after suing a music school for “random” credit card charges.
Michele Chesser said that she learned about District Music Academy from a parent-teacher association event last June at a Reston school and signed up her daughter, who “loves music and trying new things,” for a free lesson.
“It was a good lesson,” Chesser said. “What I liked about District Music Academy is they come to the house. We don’t have to go anywhere.”
At first, she said she communicated mostly with the piano teacher who would come to the house. Then the business owner reached out later in the fall to let her know that the teacher had left and would be replaced by a new one.
A couple of months later, she noticed the company was double-billing her credit card for the lessons, charging her at the beginning and end of the month. In total, according to court documents, District Music Academy overcharged her $1,260.
Chesser said she contacted business owner Jeffrey Levin in November, and he took her credit card off of automatic billing, telling her that it was a billing mistake that was taking care of caused the issue.
In December, he offered to give her credit toward future classes, but Chesser declined, saying the amount he offered was incorrect.
At that point, Chesser said there was one lesson left that she had paid for. When that lesson came around on Dec. 28 at 3:10 p.m., Chesser said that the teacher never showed up — upsetting both her and her daughter.
“After a month of emailing and calling him, I realized he wasn’t going to do anything about it,” she said, so she contacted her credit card company, which was able to credit her two out of the five months of double billing. She decided to try to recover the rest of the money in court.
Earlier this year, she tried to serve Levin his court summons three times, finally resorting to a process server, according to court records. The judge heard the case in May and ordered Levin to pay the full amount.
But as of August, Chesser said she hasn’t gotten the money back.
“I don’t think I’ll ever see my money again,” she said.
District Music Academy offers private in-home lessons, after school programs, entertainment for retirement communities in the D.C. area and other services, according to its website.
Chesser is not the only one in Reston who has sued Levin’s company for unwanted credit card charges in small claims court.
Anjia Nicolaidis told Reston Now that her daughter started ukulele and voice lessons once a month in February 2018 and the family scheduled lessons through August.
For a family with two full-time working parents, she said that District Music Academy seemed like a convenient solution, adding there are “not a lot of companies offering that in-home instruction in the immediate area.”
But by July of that year, Nicolaidis noticed double charges and “random charges.” When she reached out to Levin, “first there was some delay in getting him to acknowledge that our records and the teacher’s record were consistent,” she said.
“We asked for that reimbursement and gave him a number of opportunities to give it to us,” Nicolaidis told Reston Now, adding that Levin at first offered to make up the amount with credits to future lessons. After she declined the offer, the discussion over repayment broke down.
According to court records, Nicolaidis emailed Levin back on Sept. 10, writing:
As of this morning, September 10, 2018 you have not refunded the money you owe us. It has been a week since we received your email indicating you would process the refund. We have been corresponding about this issue for nearly two months…
We feel victimized and are in contact with other families that have had the same experience with District Music Academy.
Levin responded via email the same day, saying, “We have resolved all issues with our credit card system, but the process to refund the money is taking longer than expected. If it is acceptable to you, I can mail you a check today for the money due so that you can receive the fund more quickly.”
Nicolaidis said Levin never sent the check and she hasn’t heard from him since.
The 13th annual Lake Anne Jazz and Blues Music Festival returns to Lake Anne Plaza on August 31.
The following groups and individuals are scheduled to perform:
- BIG Whitson
- Shacara Rogers
- The Vaughan
- Ambrose Octet
- Jamal A. Brown, Feedel Band
- Michael Pavone
The event is hosted by the Friends of Lake Anne and is sponsored by Lake Anne, Reston Community Center, Friends of Lake Anne and Foxes Music Company.
Photos via Charlotte Geary Photography
Frying Pan Farm Park will come to life with music from around the world this summer.
The series, “Hunter Mill Melodies,” kicks off tomorrow (Thursday) and runs through Aug. 22. It aims to celebrate the county’s commitment to diversity and community spirit.
Attendees are encouraged to bring a picnic, blanket and chairs. So far, the schedule, which is subject to change, is below:
- June 27: Scythian (Irish Rock)
- July 11: The Reunion Jazz Orchestra (Big Band)
- July 18: Whiskey Wildfire (New Country)
- July 25: Bumper Jacksons (Americana, Country, Bluegrass)
- August 1: Incendio (Latin)
- August 8: Chopteeth (Afrofunk)
- August 15: Veronneau (World Jazz)
- August 22: The United States Navy ‘Cruisers’ (Pop Rock)
For last minute performance cancellations due to inclement weather, call 703-324-7469 one hour prior to the program start time.
Photo via Fairfax County Park Authority/Facebook
Herndon High School’s band took part in the 75th anniversary of D-Day celebrations in Normandy — returning with enhanced appreciation of the crew members who served on the USS Herndon during the invasion.
Several students dressed in original uniforms worn by USS Herndon sailors and the band also took a flag that flew on the USS Herndon.
Band members marched through the American Cemeteries in Brittany and Omaha Beach and performed in the D-Day Musical Salute to Liberation.
Varun Natarajan, a Herndon High School junior and a member of the band, said the experience increased his appreciation for those who sacrificed their lives during the invasion, as well as the unique role the USS Herndon played.
“We heard some very impactful speeches by people who participated in D-Day. Hearing the veterans describe D-Day gave me a new sense of perspective on what the invasion was like, and how intense the fighting was. Three students from our school also got to speak about what this means to them,” Natarajan said.
Photo via Herndon Band/Facebook
Kalypso’s Sports Tavern is kicking off a live music series this week.
The business, which is located on historic Lake Anne, released its lineup of bands, which will play on a dedicated stage from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. every Friday through July 28.
The complete line up is below:
- May 10: Free Soul
- May 17: Bobby Thompson & Friends
- May 24: Full Plate
- May 31: Something’s Brewing
- June 7: The Jones
- June 14: The Vandelays
- June 28: Holly Montgomery Band
- July 5: Chris Timbers Band
- July 12: Sista Pat’s One Vibe
- July 19: Free Soul
- July 28: Run For Cover
“Spring and summer is the best time of the year on Lake Anne,” says Kalypso’s owner Vicky Hadjikyriakou. “We look forward to welcoming guests, familiar and new, to enjoy this great free music lineup and our menu of flavorful Greek and Italian food.”
The tavern already offers acoustic music on the lakefront patio on most weekend afternoons and evenings. Reston Community Center’s Take a Break Concert Series also returns on Thursdays.
Luke Frazier, a pianist and founder of the American Pops Orchestra, is set to take part in a program featuring the music of Irving Berlin tomorrow (April 11) at CenterStage (2310 Colts Neck Road).
The program, which is part of CenterStage’s “Meet the Artists” series, will also feature other musicians. The event is made possible through a partnership between Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at George Mason University and Reston Community Center.
Berlin was an American composer and lyricist who produced ballads, dance numbers, novelty tunes and love songs. His work forms a major part of the Great American Songbook.
The event, which will take place from 2:15-3:30 p.m., is free and open to all ages.
Photo via Reston Community Center
A husband and wife singer-songwriter team is set to perform at the Deepwood Sessions, a series of house concerts hosted in Reston, this Friday (April 5).
Chris and Jenna Badeker, who met and began singing together in college, formed Wild Harbors in 2017, according to their website. The duo describes their sound as alternative pop with “gutsy, lyric-driven songs laced with intricate vocal harmonies.”
They recently released their first full-length album, “Monument,” on March 15.
The 7 p.m. show asks attendees each for $10. Each concert for the Deepwood Sessions has a suggested minimum donation, which goes to directly to the artist.
According to the website, the series hosts acoustic and unplugged concerts featuring independent artists with a variety of styles and musical genres.
RSVP-ing in advance is strongly recommended.