Preview: Columbia Festival of the Arts Weaves ‘Silk Road Stories’ from June 10th Through the 26th

The Columbia Festival of the Arts Summer, Silk Road Stories begins to blossom this upcoming Friday, June 10th with a reprise of Stoop Storytelling at the Owen Brown Interfaith Center – 7246 Cradlerock Road, in Columbia, MD.


This year fans of the program need to know that the weekend of free Concerts – which begins Saturday, June 18th at 10 AM and runs through Sunday, June 19th at 6 PM – will be held at Merriweather Post and The Chrysalis Amphitheatre, not at Lake Kittamaqundi.

I had good fortune to be able to ask Todd Olson, Executive Director of the Festival about this year’s program.

What special groups will you have that will specifically relate to the Silk Road [an area that goes from the subcontinent to the Far East]?

Sejoon Park, Classical Piano on Saturday, June 11th at 8 PM at Horowitz Center at Howard Community College.

Korech Dance Company on Friday, June 17th at 8 PM at The Jim Rouse Theatre.

Mystic India: The World Tour- A Bollywood Spectacular on Saturday, June 18th at 8 PM at The Jim Rouse Theatre.

Three Course Concert! With Nistha Raj and Christylez Bacon: A Night of Indian Food, Drink, and Music on Saturday, June 25th at 7:00 PM at the Horowitz Center at Howard Community College.

Novelist Nadia Hashimi on Sunday, June 26 at 4 PM at the Horowitz Center at Howard Community College.

Stoop Storytelling Series: Stories from Abroad on Friday, June 10th at 8 PM.2015-CFF-Logo-Primary-Format-Transparent72DPI1160X500

Debut of the Columbia Film Festival! On Friday, June 24 from 10-6 PM and Saturday, June 25th from 10-5:30 PM at the Horowitz Center at Howard Community College. It will include films from Japan and South Korea.

Why did you move the venue for the Free Concerts to Merriweather Post?

We’re excited by the development in downtown Columbia (The Chrysalis Amphitheatre and Merriweather Post Pavilion) and want to be a part of those innovations. We think that special park will mark a new cultural epicenter and CFA is excited to join the other partners there.

Is this a permanent change?

Permanent, part of our challenge was that the lake front got to be so busy no one could differentiate who was doing what, so we all kind of looked the same. We’re hoping to distinguish ourselves a little more in the woods with the new performance space and renewed energy in that park.

What performers will be at the free weekend?  Is there a place to find a schedule of times and performers)?

FREE WEEKEND IN THE WOODSSaturday, June 18th and Sunday, June 19th.

 Saturday, June 18th

10:00 AM-6:00 PM



 12:00-1:15 PM



1:30-2:45 PM



3:00-4:15 PM



4:30-6:00 PM

Sunday, June 19th

12:00-6:00 PM



12:15-1:30 PM



1:45-3:15 PM



3:30-5:00 PM

Please tell us a little more than about the food and performance night on June 25th and why people should come.

We love hybrid events and we love elevating food as an art, and this does both. Christylez Bacon and Nistha Raj create something together that is unique, and they will be presenting 3 sets of music which will be interrupted by 3 courses of food, also with an eastern flair. We’re putting those restaurant partners together now; if you liked the feel of the Whole Foods intermission between Las Cafeteras and La Santa Cecilia last month, you’ll love this!

In addition to the Film Festival with an international line-up you will also have Film Shorts from the Sundance Film Shorts.  Which shorts will be shown?

The 8 films shown Saturday, June 12th at Monteabaro Hall at The Horwitz Center, at Howard Community College, from 1-3 PM  and again from 4-6 PM will be:

AffectionsWritten and directed by Bridey Elliott. U.S.A., 16 minutes.

Bacon & God’s Wrath-Short Film Jury Award: Non-fiction, presented by YouTube-Written and directed by Sol Friedman. Canada. 9 minutes.

EdmondShort Film Jury Award: Animation, presented by YouTube-Written and  directed by Nina Gantz. United Kingdom. 9 minutes.

Her Friend Adam-Short Film Special Jury Award for Outstanding Performance (Grace Glowicki)-Written and directed by Ben Petrie. Canada. 17 minutes.

Jungle-Written and directed by Asantewaa Prempeh. USA. 13 minutes.

The Grandfather Drum-Written and directed by Michelle Derosier. Canada. 13 minutes.

The Procedure-Short Film Jury Award: U.S. Fiction, presented by YouTube-Written and directed by Calvin Lee Reeder. USA. 4 minutes.

Thunder Road-Short Film Grand Jury Prize, presented by YouTube-Written and directed by Jim Cummings. USA. 13 minutes.

Tell us who will be performing at the free night of Improv (Arts Council Open Studios and Improv on Thursday, June 16th at 6 PM at the Howard County Arts Center, in Ellicott City).

Kids from the All-County Improv, literally the finest improve students in the Howard County Public Schools – 2 from each high school!

Why did you pick these particular Eastern performers?

We only aim to choose performers who will make captivating art that patrons will remember for a very long time. We want unique and hybrid, and artists you cannot usually see in Howard County unless it’s at the Festival.

For those who have never seen Stoop Storytelling, why should attendees attend this event. 

Their power is in their simplicity: 7 unique storytellers telling a 7-minute story each. Last year our emphasis was on food, so we got a catering horror story, a lawyer who once was a chef in England, a teen story of growing up in an Indian grocery store, a behind the scenes recollection at a taping of Iron Chef …and more. And then Act 2 opened with some selected stories from the audience, with participants taking the mic for their 7 minutes. It’s a powerful and often moving night.

Why did you decide to do a radio play (Friday, June 24 at 8PM and Sunday June 26th at 1 PM at the Horowitz Center at Howard Community College? And why Orson Wells/Shylock?  

One year ago we developed this play in a reading before a live audience. It’s the story of Wells’ life and his obsession with the role of Shylock in Merchant of Venice, and the great work he was never able to complete. Since last year the writer/director Matt Chiorini has produced it in Syracuse and has included a lot of multi-media (because Welles was a master at so many mediums). This production will leave here and go to the Montreal Fringe Festival.

What is the average price of a ticket?

Prices range from our FREE weekend in the woods to events in the $15-18 ranges, all the way to the $25-55 range for the biggest shows. Order your tickets by filling out an order form.

If someone can only pay to see one show, which one or two would you recommend?

If you love dance, Koresh Dance is the must-see.

If you love spectacle, the Bollywood night is the must-see.

If you love film you must be at the first-ever Columbia Film Festival.

If theatre is your thing, then ORSON WELLES/SHYLOCK is for you.

If you love authors, then Nadia Hashimi is for you.

The Columbia Festival of the Arts is always a summer treat. Circle it on your calendar. Whether you go to the free concerts or get a ticket for any of their venues, it remains a gem in Howard County.

For further or more specific information visit their website.


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