Soulful Symphony Founder Recovering from Automobile Accident, Remaining 2019 Concerts Cancelled


Due to injuries sustained by Soulful Symphony founder and conductor Darin Atwater in a car accident last month, the Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission (DCACC) today announced the cancellation of the acclaimed orchestra’s final two shows at Merriweather Post Pavilion in 2019. All ticket buyers will receive full refunds.

“This was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make, but after consulting with my medical team, I know it is the right one,” said Atwater, who is also Artistic Director of the Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission. “Thank you to the fans who have supported Soulful for so many years along with those supporting me in my recovery. Next year is Soulful's 20th anniversary, and it will be our biggest year yet. I am already looking ahead to the possibilities for this celebratory season and can't wait to get to work on it soon.”

Tickets purchased online and at the box office with credit card will be automatically refunded. Those who purchased tickets with cash at the box office can visit Merriweather Post Pavilion’s box office to redeem their refund. These refunds will be available until October 21st(the next business day following two weeks after the event). 

Soulful Symphony’s first concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion was an unprecedented success and opened to rave reviews. wrote, “It is the sound of this wonderful orchestra that left the most lasting impression.  The blend of violins, violas, cellos and basses with traditional brass and woodwinds complemented the trap set drums, saxophones and electronic keyboards.  It made for an exciting night of rhythms and melodies both new and familiar.”

Pictures and video of Soulful’s performance at Merriweather can be seen at Soulful-Symphony.comor on the DCACC Facebook page

Soulful Symphony’s residency at Merriweather Post Pavilion marks a return to the storied venue’s roots as a cultural institution. Since acquiring ownership of Merriweather in 2016, DCACC has hosted numerous community and cultural events at the amphitheater, including Soulful’s debut at the venue in June with #SoulfulSetlist.

Founded in 2000, Soulful Symphony will continue its residency at Merriweather Post Pavilion next year with a celebratory, 20thanniversary season that will showcase the orchestra’s full range of musical styles, with both familiar selections and new works. 

“Our main priority is that Darin fully recovers from his injuries, and you can’t rush the healing process,” said Ian Kennedy, DCACC’s Executive Director. “We will continue to support Darin as he recovers, and in the meantime, we are already planning for a season of Soulful performances in 2020 that will continue to redefine music and how we experience it.”

DCACC Announces "Founding Donor" Campaign

Merriweather Post Pavilion and Downtown Columbia are becoming a premier destination for arts and culture in the mid-Atlantic. With Soulful Symphony’s residency at Merriweather as the cultural centerpiece, the future starts now. And we need your help. Donate to the Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, as part of our “Founding Donor” drive and know that your support will go directly to growing world-class and accessible artistic, cultural, and community programs.

To be eligible for this special “Founding Donor” status and package of benefits, contributions must be received prior to October 1, 2019. Donors who contribute at the Choir-level or above will be included on a commemorative plaque to be installed at Merriweather Post Pavilion. All donors who contribute as part of this donation drive will be listed as a DCACC “Founding Donor” on DCACC’s website and in event programs. Donations to DCACC are tax-deductible but the value of any benefits received must be deducted for tax purposes; please consult your accountant or tax professional for advice.

Our “Founding Donor” drive includes many levels. Please visit our Founding Donor page to see the benefits package associated with each. You can donate online or mail at check to Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia MD 21044.


Soulful Symphony Announces Inaugural Season Performances Starting June 29

Tickets available to the General Public on Monday, May 20

Soulful Symphony today announced its inaugural three-show season, Soulful Summers, as Merriweather Post Pavilion’s resident symphony, beginning a new era for both the acclaimed orchestra and iconic music venue. 


Soulful Symphony takes the stage June 29 with #soulfulsetlist.  Continuing its mission of exploring the rich diversity of American Roots Music, Soulful Symphony captures the magic and wonder of one of the most iconic stages in the country with a mash-up of American anthems covering every conceivable style and genre - original orchestral arrangements, magnificent vocal performances and spectacular dancing. It’s the ultimate Remix. This is what makes Soulful Symphony unlike any orchestral ensemble in the world. 

“Our mission is to celebrate American music and expand audiences, and this season definitely has something for everyone. We want to be as comprehensive as possible as we create a hub of culture where patrons can enjoy a variety of programming. Programming that bridges the gap, that exist between high art and popular culture, that welcomes inclusivity and reflects the communities we serve.  It’s both entertaining and informative. When you leave a Soulful performance, patrons should have another perspective about the possibilities of greatness in their own life”, said Darin Atwater, Artistic Director for the Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission. “With the history of Merriweather Post Pavilion and its central location in the cultural geography of the Baltimore/Washington DC region, this residency is more like a homecoming for the orchestra and our music.” 

This inaugural seasonwill include three performances at the famed amphitheater—#soulfulsetlist on June 29, Slangon July 28, and Under an Open Heaven on September 14. Season passes and tickets to individual shows go on sale to the general public on Monday, May 20, at

“Soulful is a change-generator for music, and its inaugural season at Merriweather will help us understand and appreciate music in exciting new ways,” said Ian Kennedy, Executive Director of the Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission.  “Creating music together, audience members and musicians, in real time at a live performance is a profound and unifying experience, and it is one that is needed more than ever. Soulful is a symphony with a chair for everyone.” 

As part of the lead up to #Soulfulsetlist, fans will be able to vote on songs to be included in the #Soulfulsetlist program, taking Soulful’s radically inclusive approach to new levels. More details will be announced soon about the fan voting component, but the message is clear: #Soulfulsetlisthas something for everyone.  

The second performance entitled Slang will be held on July 28.  Amosaic of American composers in large form orchestral works from America’s musical soil takes center stage in this show. Slangis an exploration of modern interpretations of classical music by groundbreaking and visionary composers. The program will include the world premiere of Slang, anew work by Atwater, excerpts from Atwater’s South Side, Symphonic Dances, along with iconic works by George Gershwin, Andre Previn, ending the evening with a soulful interpretation of The American Songbook. 

Prior to the evening program, there will be a family-friendly Soulful Sound Park. Soulful Symphony will bring Merriweather to life in exciting new ways, welcoming kids and adults alike to hear stories with orchestra as Soulful transports eyes and ears to a magical submersion of costumes, song and dance. 

In its third performance, Under an Open Heaven on Sept. 14, Soulful gives new life to Columbia, Maryland, founder James Rouse’s vision to bring together faith congregations from around the community for an evening of inspiration and hope. Spirituality and Culture are explored - from Vedic mantras to the Islamic Call to Prayer. Hebrew Psalms to Gregorian chant, devotional Bhajans to Bach Chorales, traditional hymns to Gospel music. 

On March 11, the Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission, along with Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, announced that Merriweather Post Pavilion would be home to Soulful Symphony, a world-class, 21st century orchestra, fulfilling the cultural promise of Merriweather set forth by Rouse.  

Click here for Summer with Soulful season passes.

Click here for tickets to #soulfulsetlist.

Click here for tickets to Slang.

Click here for tickets to Under an Open Heaven.

The Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission is dedicated to the expansion and enhancement of artistic, cultural, civic, and educational programming in and around Merriweather Post Pavilion. Founded in 2013, the Commission is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that owns Merriweather Post Pavilion and is working to bolster the venue’s cultural significance throughout the region. The Commission envisions Downtown Columbia as a premier destination for world-class, ground-breaking arts, culture, and entertainment in the mid-Atlantic and is bringing this vision to life through bold programs and collaborative partnerships.

About Soulful Symphony
Soulful Symphonyhas become the benchmark for innovation and diversity. It has broadened the audiences engaging in music in the concert hall, literally redefining the symphony experience all while contributing to the canon of American Roots music. The result is a uniquely American orchestra of national stature. Founded in 2000, Soulful Symphony is transforming music as we know it. This disruptive force is bringing to life the music that’s been nested in America’s soil-everything from gospel to jazz to hip-hop to spiritual to blues and country - literally reinventing the symphony orchestra in Americawith performances that leave audiences wanting more of its distinctly American sound.