ART

So much recent U.S. art is speedy and aggressive that the thoughtfulness and patience of "A Quiet Revolution: British Sculpture Since 1965" at the Hirshhorn comes as a relief. It's a gentle exhibition. Its lack of bombast pleases. Wandering through its galleries, I kept thinking of an old, time-honored British pastime: going for a walk. A sense of wandering and pausing, of musing and remembering -- and of gathering the objects found along the path -- runs throughout the show. It is well worth a meander.

CLASSICAL MUSIC

Gerd Albrecht will be the guest conductor and Jon Kimura Parker the guest pianist with the National Symphony Orchestra this week in a program of Beethoven, Grieg and Dvorak.

Other orchestral programs this week will include the Smithsonian Chamber Orchestra, tonight in the Terrace Theater; the Handel Festival Orchestra, Thursday and Friday nights in the Terrace; and the Orchestra of the 18th Century Friday at the University of Maryland. Sitar player Ustad Vilayat Khan will perform tonight at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.

The program will be, as usual, a piquant mixture of the familiar and the unfamiliar when the Theater Chamber Players perform in the Terrace Theater Saturday night and next Sunday afternoon. Other notable chamber music will include: Isaac Stern, Yo Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax, this afternoon at the Kennedy Center; the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Wednesday night in the Concert Hall; the Washington Guitar Quintet, Wednesday night in the Terrace Theater; the Emerson String Quartet with clarinetist Loren Kitt and pianist Lambert Orkis, Saturday night in the Baird Auditorium; London Baroque, with baritone Paul Hillier, Friday night at the Library of Congress; clarinetist David Thomas and pianist Jeffrey Chappell, Thursday night at Strathmore Hall; the Wille and Yeh piano duo, today at the Phillips Collection; pianists Clipper Erickson and Edmund Battersby with violinist David Niwa, tomorrow night in the Terrace Theater; violinist Leonidas Kavakos, Tuesday night in the Terrace Theater; the Arpegionne Duo, Wednesday noon at the National Building Museum; sitarist Gavrang Yodh, Wednesday noon in Lisner Auditorium; and pianist Sylvie Carbonel, Wednesday night at La Maison Franc aise.

There will be several unusual programs of contemporary music this week. The Washington Music Ensemble's American Music Festival, continuing Wednesday night at the National Press Club, will feature several premieres as well as the music of two women composers: Jan Pompilo's brilliant "Alice Songs" and Ruth Schoenfeld's "Love Letters." Music of the Spheres will present Carmen Moore and Sky Music in "Flight Into Freedom," celebrating the creative spirit of South Africa and the struggle to end apartheid, Saturday night in St. Mark's Episcopal Church.

The highlight of the week's vocal music will be Beethoven's "Missa Solemnis," performed by the Cathedral Choral Society this afternoon at the Washington Cathedral. Other vocal music worth noting: Haydn's "Lord Nelson" Mass, this afternoon at the Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church; music of black composers today at the Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church; soprano Lila Deis, tonight at the National Gallery; and the Opera Ensemble of Washington, tonight at Montgomery College, Rockville.

DANCE

The week's highlights include final performances today and tonight of "Flamenco Puro" at the Warner Theatre; the continuing runs of the American Indian Dance Theatre at Ford's Theatre today and Tuesday through Sunday and of the Adaptors Movement Theatre at Baltimore's Theatre Project today and Wednesday through Sunday; Marina Keet's program of Spanish Dance featuring guest artists Marina Lorca and Roberto Amaral at Marvin Theater Friday and Saturday; the Chinese Festival of Song and Dance at the Warner Friday through Sunday; the Baltimore Dance Theatre at Mount Vernon College Friday and Saturday; free programs of American Indian Song and Dance at the National Museum of American History Saturday afternoon; and Martita Goshen's Earthworks program at Dance Place, Saturday and Sunday.

FILM

Arnold Schwarzenegger is back in action in "The Running Man," a zany futuristic fiction that mixes aspects of "Let's Make a Deal," "Max Headroom," professional wrestling and "Rollerball." It's 2019 and the totalitarians have taken over the United States, manipulating the people through mass media, lying to them with non-news and sedating them with such game shows as "The Running Man." Richard Dawson, as its egomaniacal host, picks the contestants for this deadly cat-and-mouse carnival in which the players actually run for their lives. Schwarzenegger plays the notorious "Butcher of Bakersfield," a former police officer framed for the slaughter of 60 innocent civilians. He runs through a decimated cityscape, pursued by the show's top stalkers -- one with a high-powered chain saw. There's a little splatter and a lot of laughs, primarily for action crowds.

POP MUSIC

Folk, new age, rural chamber music -- they're just words that hint at the melodic grace and roots honesty of the music of Metamora. At Gaston Hall tonight.

The first Thelonious Monk Piano Competition holds forth at Baird Auditorium on Wednesday and Thursday. Preliminary competitions take place at 1 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday; concert and finalists' showcase on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

Stanley Jordan still sounds like a duo or trio: Local guitarists will probably occupy the front rows at Blues Alley Thursday through Sunday, but if you want iconoclastic solo guitar technique fused with old-fashioned melodicism, Jordan's your man.

Four local bands signed to the promising new local label, Top, perform at the Bayou on Thursday -- B-Time, Not Even, New Keys and Frontier Theory.

Songwriters Alex Chilton (he's the legend) and Chris Stamey (he's just got a rep) share the 9:30 stage on Thursday.

Saxophonist supreme Dexter Gordon should take to the Kennedy Center Concert Hall Stage at 8 p.m. on Friday and he might play till " 'Round Midnight" if the mood hits him.

Miss Anita Baker is the embodiment of the Quiet Storm sound, but she's also a world-class belter. Blues, gospel, R&B, soul -- the lady can do it all. She's at Constitution Hall Saturday through Tuesday.

Washington saxophonist Buck Hill may someday receive the just desserts recently given to another local jewel, Shirley Horn. Meanwhile, he'll perform Saturday at the Grand Hyatt.

Celtic Thunder, Washington's premier Celtic ensemble, celebrates the "crack" and its 10th anniversary at American University's Kreeger Auditorium on Saturday.

THEATER

Tickets are scarcer than the proverbial hen's teeth, but you should still try to wangle seats for "A ... My Name is Alice" (Horizons Theatre) or "All the King's Men" (Arena Stage). The first is a zany feminist revue. The latter is an epic dramatization of Robert Penn Warren's novel about the poisons generated by a corrupt Southern politician, very much like Louisiana's Huey Long. Both are top notch.