The only pick in town this week is the opening of two museums of the near-monolithic Smithsonian Institution. The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the National Museum of African Art (including the S. Dillon Ripley Center with its International Center) are now nestled under the lyrically designed Enid A. Haupt Garden, guarded by the old Smithsonian "Castle" and its ancient linden tree. By "under," we mean it. The art-filled galleries descend three stories into the ground, with twin pavilions as the only evidence of the treasures that lie beneath.
Catherine Comet will be the first guest conductor of the new season of the National Symphony Orchestra, beginning Thursday, in a program that will include Beethoven's "Emperor" Concerto, with pianist Alexis Weissenberg as guest soloist.
Riccardo Muti will conduct the Philadelphia Orchestra, Wednesday night at the Kennedy Center, in the first of its three concerts here this season. The program will feature Beethoven's "Pastoral" Symphony and Weber's Piano Concerto No. 1 with Malcolm Frager as soloist.
A celebration of the music of George Gershwin will be presented in the Terrace Theater Wednesday night featuring two family teams: duo pianists Richard and John Conti-Guglia and the husband-and-wife team of soprano Joan Morris and pianist William Bolcom. Other attractions in the Terrace will include violinist Violaine Melancon with pianist Seth Knopp on Monday evening and pianist Grant Johannesen on Thursday.
Bass-baritone Lieuwe Visser and pianist Robert Nasveld will present an unusual program of contemporary vocal music Saturday afternoon at the Library of Congress.
Also worth noting: clarinetist Georgina Dobree and pianist Gary Kirkpatrick, today at the Phillips Collection; the Columbia Players, tomorrow night at the National Women's Democratic Club; tenor Jon Lackey, Wednesday night at La Maison Franc aise; the Friday Morning Music Club, Friday at Strathmore Hall.
At Baltimore's Theatre Project this afternoon and this evening, the eight-year-old PATH Dance Company, directed by Kathy Wildberger, will give its final performance (the troupe is folding for lack of funds). The farewell programs contain works by Wildberger, Gary Masters, Bebe Miller and Jeff Duncan -- the last being honored in a tribute for his contributions to modern dance. The PATH concerts launched this year's "Dancesampler" series showcasing Baltimore dance troupes at the Theatre Project, where the next attraction, starting Wednesday evening, will be the Phoenix Repertory Dance Company, in a program featuring works by Elizabeth Walton, Carol Hess and Douglas Hamby.
The Dance Place this week launches the performance aspects of a month-long "Japan-America Dance Project," with appearances by Kei Takei's Moving Earth troupe in sections from Takei's entrancing, ever-expanding epic "Light." Free outdoor performances will be given Thursday and Friday evenings at the Washington Monument; full evening programs will be presented at the Dance Place Saturday and Sunday (the troupe will present another round of programs Oct. 8-11).
The season's first dance attraction at the Prince George's Publick Playhouse this fall will be Baltimore's Harbor City Ballet, performing Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.
A 14-year-old peasant boy grows up quickly when he runs off to fight the Germans in "Come and See," a visually arresting and harrowing account of genocide in the Soviet republic of Byelorussia in 1943, now at the Biograph. Elem Klimov, recently elected to head the Soviet Filmmakers Union, directs this hallucinatory horrors-of-war story with Alexei Kravchenko as a boy who becomes an old man as he witnesses a series of ever-escalating atrocities. Nearly 2.5 million Byelorussians were exterminated in those times and Klimov's well-crafted work is unsparing.
Mr. Henry celebrates his 70th birthday tonight in a special way: an all-star concert at his Columbia Road restaurant featuring Roberta Flack (who got her start at his Capitol Hill location), Marvin Hamlisch, Julia and Co. and Betty. The concert will benefit the Walker-Whitman Clinic.
This week's spectacular rock tour: David Bowie's "Glass Spider" Tour, which just barely fits into the Capital Centre for shows on Monday and Tuesday.
Karen Akers, Washington's reigning cabaret diva, is at Blues Alley Tuesday through Sunday.
Jazz composer George Russell and his vanguard Living Time Orchestra make a rare concert appearance Friday at Baird Auditorium.
Jazz violinist John Blake sometimes gives in to commercial calculation on his records, but his Friday and Saturday engagement at One Step Down should bring out his more experimental tendencies.
Japanese synthesist Kitaro is one of the guiding lights of New Age music; he's at the Warner on Saturday.
The Bayou Blues and Cajun Festival will rock the Prince George's Equestrian Center on Saturday, with Barrance Whitfield and the Savages, the Original Sun Rhythm Band, Washington's Nighthawks and Orioles, Wayne Toups (and his Cajun band) and R&B great, saxophonist Noble (Thin Man) Watts. From noon to 8 p.m.
Washington's small theater scene is off to a bracing start. Horizons Theater has put together a deft and altogether amusing production of "A ... My Name Is Alice," a 1984 off-Broadway revue that celebrates the woman of the 1980s, even as it pokes fun at her. And the Source Theatre squeezes the essence of the unwinnable war onto its compact Mainstage with an inventive production of "How I Got That Story," Amlin Gray's darkly comic hallucination about Americans in Vietnam.