Music, Sculpture and…Brainwaves? Columbia's new OPUS 1 Festival combines art, tech and entertainment.

By Autumn Dalton



Have you ever wanted to see if your brainwaves match up with another person, or maybe learn how to create sculptures with found objects? As Columbia celebrates its 50th anniversary, the city is offering a one-night festival of music, art installations and cool.

Described in the press release as “Electric Forest meets Art Basel in the woods,” the family-friendly OPUS 1 Festival will be held on Saturday, Oct. 7 from 4-7 p.m. Hosted by Merriweather Post Pavilion + Symphony Woods and presented by The Howard Hughes Corporation, the festival is a little Light City and a lot of art and tech.

Three years in the making, the hope is that the project will take Columbia to the next level as a cultural hub, says Vanessa Rodriguez, director of marketing at The Howard Hughes Corporation.

“Earlier this year we launched Books in Bloom, our inaugural book festival which focused on the literary arts, and with OPUS 1, it’s the next phase of our investment to bringing art and culture to Downtown Columbia,” she says. “We want each year to be bigger and better than the last, to further push our limits creatively and help change any preconceived notions of what’s possible in Columbia.”

The festival is free, but guests are encouraged to RSVP at opusmerriweather.com in order to have a smooth admission process. Rodriguez hopes residents from all over the DMV will attend.

“OPUS 1 is curated for wonderment and discovery, and as such, the program weaves together a diverse tapestry of sights and sounds, interactive installations and immersive performances,” says Ken Farmer, festival curator and creative director of Wild Dogs International.

Just how tech-y will it be? There are 11 “activation areas” where guests can synchronize their brainwaves or surround themselves in a 360-degree environment of video art curated by multimedia artist Peter Burr.

Some of the family-friendly draws include The Lightning Cloud, an inflatable pavilion that will act as a stage and house musical performances, food truck area containing glow-in-the-dark cotton candy from Fluffness and a sculpture workshop with artist Lonnie Holley.

Rodriguez has high hopes for the festival and expects it to create a new and exciting trend for the city of Columbia.

“OPUS 1 is important because it’s the first day of the next 50 years of Columbia,” she says.

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