Tag Archives: Washington DC

National Portrait Gallery

Since the building was very close to a Metro stop, I made three visits to the National Portrait Gallery during my recent D.C. trip.

Part of this famous old building was the Civil War hospital where Clara Barton served.  She later founded the American Red Cross.  Walt Whitman walked these same floors.

And Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural ball was held in this room:

Amazing to think of the ghosts that inhabit this space!

From the third-floor Twentieth Century Americans exhibit, these performers caught my eye:

And of course I couldn’t miss the new portrait of Michelle Obama!

More pandas

Since my conference hotel in D.C. last week was an easy (uphill) walk to the National Zoo, I took some time to see the panda bears.

The male and female adults were in separate enclosures, and one of the three Washington-born panda cubs was on display in his indoor enclosure.

Mei Xiang, the momma.

Bei Bei the cub was adorable, and playful too!


On my last day in Washington, D.C. last week, I visited two places that have long been on my list — Dumbarton House and Dumbarton Oaks.

These two estates, vastly different from each other, take their names from a grant of land made by Queen Anne in 1702.

Dumbarton House is a Georgian estate home sitting on the eastern edge of Georgetown. Visitors can gain a sense of what privilege was like in the early 1800s in the mid-Atlantic states. 

Tea-cup and saucer on table.
Entry hall.
Lockset on front door.
Vases on mantel.

Dumbarton Oaks is known variously for its collection of Byzantine, Pre-Columbian, and European art works; for its extensive and impressive garden; for being the site of some of the talks that led to the establishment of the United Nations; and for Stravinsky’s Dumbarton Oaks concerto.  Of interest to me was the Steinway D grand piano, with signed photos of masters who played in that massive music room — Stravinsky, Isaac Stern, Nadia Boulanger.

Congressional Cemetery

On a grayish Monday afternoon, I made my way to the historical Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

Buried here are a number of 19th century Congress members.  And J. Edgar Hoover.  And Elbridge Gerry, the only signer of the Declaration of Independence to be buried in the District of Columbia. And Matthew Brady, father of American photography and the man responsible for so many early American portraits and photos.  And John Philip Sousa.

The cemetery has, in the last 50 years, encouraged creative headstones, appreciating interesting texts.  And this is apparently the only cemetery in the country with an LGBT association.  So I appreciated poking around in the gay & lesbian corner of the cemetery too.

NASM 2018

The annual meeting of the National Association of Schools of Music is now over.

Our plenary sessions were held in this large ballroom, where in 1992 Bill Clinton picked up the sax and played a ditty at his first inaugural ball.

But by the end of the conference, this is how I felt:

Mind full of ideas and hopes and plans.  But blurry.  And worn out!


Outside the National Cathedral, 2010.

I attended Holy Eucharist on Sunday at Washington National Cathedral, the See of the diocese, and a cathedral for all people.

This was a spur-of-the-moment decision.  The morning session at NASM was less interesting than I thought.  I jumped in a cab. Five minutes later (I could have walked) I was at the Cathedral.

And then I discovered that the final hymn was Herbert Howells’ MICHAEL.  

There’s a reason that inner voice told me to be at the National Cathedral today.