If I wished myself a superpower, I would make this moment last for hours.Cody Fry from “Photograph”
Several months ago, I saw a post on social media that would change my life. Ben Rector and Cody Fry jointly announced a performance with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in January. I thought it over and decided to buy a ticket. What I would experience on this night was something truly magical.
I had not taken a proper trip in more than three years and, if I was going to do this, I was going to do it right. I chose to stay in a swanky hotel called The Archer in a hip dining and shopping district in nearby Falls Church, V.A. I felt a bit out of place arriving at check in wearing a hoodie while mostly everyone else had dressier clothing on. In any case, the folks there were super friendly, the room spacious, the hotel itself quiet. Hotel staff remembered the little things, such as a welcome treat of locally made salted caramels and Fiji Water, including The Little Prince on the nightstand to read, a turntable with vinyls to spin in the lobby. Even complimentary slippers and a lovely breakfast to greet me in the morning. I think my favorite part were things like pillows in the room and items in the lobby baring cool little sayings. The little touches.
Before the stay, I researched eateries in the district. For me, I always try to eat at places that cannot be enjoyed at home when on a trip. This time it was Nando’s, which is world renowned for its Peri-Peri Chicken. I see why. The Chicken Caesar Wrap with “chips,” or fries, and Peri-Peri Ranch to dip was the move and it was incredible. Couple it with top notch service and it was an experience well had.
Now to the real reason I traveled here…
Despite having been to Washington, D.C. on several occasions, this was my first time visiting The Kennedy Center. It’s cool that the venue is open practically all day. With that, you can go well before the show and explore the building and grounds. That’s exactly what I did. You will not be bored waiting for your performance to start, as The Kennedy Center has plenty to see. From an informative exhibit highlighting John F. Kennedy, to several halls to explore, to a gift shops and a couple of dining options. If it had not been rainy, I would have gone earlier and taken a guided tour. There is also a free concert series, which features a new performance each evening. That evening’s concert featured a quartet of strings players from the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra. It was a beautiful performance to gear up for the main event.
Then came what I had been waiting for since October. Where to begin? From the National Symphony Orchestra, to Ben and Cody. Every single aspect was sensational. The duo performed each of my favorite songs and even performed a cover of Shania Twain’s “You’re Still the One.” I got to be a part of the audience choir for Cody’s version of “Eleanor Rigby” – a dream come true! There was also a special appearance by saxophonist and absolute legend, David Besonen, who joined Ben on his recent “The Joy of Music Tour” to add a special flair to “30,000 Feet.” And in typical Ben Rector fashion, he did a cool vid on social media commemorating the show and having us join in on the fun. Catch me in the very back left of the orchestra section!
If you know me, you know as a clarinetist I’m big into symphonic music. Until Wednesday evening, I had only seen the National Symphony Orchestra on television. To experience the orchestra in person made a glorious night even better. I was awestruck and, at times, brought to tears. There is no doubt that this performance is one I will always remember. In fact, it’s the best performance of any kind I’ve attended in my 30-ish years on this planet. No exaggerating.
The fun continued on Thursday, as I was able to sightsee in downtown D.C., returning to take selfies with The Washington Monument and The White House, as well as make first time visits to The National Museum for African American History and Culture and The National Museum of American History. While there, I saw a range of things, from props from iconic American television shows, to Dr. Jill Biden and Michelle Obama’s inauguration outfits, and so much more. Oh and one last stop at the Martin Luther King, Jr. and Jefferson Memorials before making the trek back home. My first time seeing the MLK Memorial in person.
This was a well deserved break from everyday life that I will not soon forget. Huge thanks to The Archer Hotel for being a great host as well as The Kennedy Center, Ben Rector, Cody Fry, David Besonen, and The National Symphony Orchestra for a sensational evening. Going along with the lyric from Cody that I began with, I truly wish I could have made it last for even longer.
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