Hit the Bars (of Music) For Lunch: Free Midday Concerts in the DC Area

Food trucks are a fun and a convenient way to sample something tasty and new, but don’t forget to check out the bars – of music that is. Several DC area venues offer bite-sized classical music concerts free of charge, perfect for a workweek lunchtime escape.

Audience members enjoying a lunchtime performance by the Washington Bach Consort. Photo by Kate Wichlinski.
Audience members enjoying a lunchtime performance by the Washington Bach Consort. Photo by Kate Wichlinski.

This partial list of regular Monday through Friday events will get you started. Several are sponsored by the Friday Morning Music Club, which hosts a variety of classical music concerts at venues in and around the District. Others are joint ventures between musical organizations and churches which are typically reliable places to hear live music.

And don’t forget to check museum and other cultural institution event calendars such as the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian, as they often host free concerts at varying times during the week. Embassies also occasionally offer free concerts.

May is the European Month of Culture, which typically features free concerts at a variety of venues in town.

Mondays:
For Baroque sounds on Capitol Hill, the Bach Consort offers its Capitol Cantata Series at St. Peter’s Catholic Church on Capitol Hill. St. Peter’s is located at 313 2nd Street SE. Performances run from October through May.

Tuesdays:
The Church of the Epiphany just half a block from Metro Center (1317 G Street NW) offers noontime concerts every Tuesday, year-round. Performers vary, although there are regular appearances by the Washington Bach Consort and artists from The Levine School. The Consort performances always feature an organ prelude first.

The Dumbarton House at 2715 Q St NW has an early 19th Century music concert series that runs from September through June.

Wednesdays:
The First Wednesday Series at St. John’s Church on Lafayette Square (1525 H Street NW) runs October through June. Concerts start at 12:10 pm and end at 12:45 pm.

Special European Month of Culture performances on Wednesdays this May at the National Gallery of Art include:

Thursdays:
The Strathmore Mansion Concert Series located at 10701 Rockville Pike in Bethesda, offers monthly Thursday performances beginning at 11 am. For more information, visit the Friday Morning Music Club website.

The DC Public Library continues its tradition of noontime chamber music concerts the first Thursday of every month, now in partnership with the Goethe Institute at 1990 K St. NW (entrance is located on 20th St. between Eye and K Streets NW).

Fridays:
Several area organizations offer free ways to TGIF at lunchtime. If you’re in Georgetown, try Georgetown University‘s Friday Music Series at 1:15 pm year-round in McNeir Hall, New North Building.

The Arts Club of Washington at  2017 I St. NW near the George Washington Campus/Foggy Bottom area, offers noontime concerts October through June. Once there, you can peruse the monthly art installments, too. Concerts are typically 30 minutes in length.

National City Christian Church has one of DC’s largest pipe organs, with 7,000 pipes. You can hear how it nearly blows off the roof in concert most Fridays at 12:15 pm year-round.