George Mason University’s Center for the Arts Announces 25th Anniversary Season of Great Performances at Mason by Jill Graziano Laiacona

Celebrating 25 years of bringing outstanding performing arts to George Mason University and audiences in the greater Washington, DC area, George Mason University’s Center for the Arts in Fairfax announces its 2015-2016 Great Performances at Mason season, featuring a collection of renowned artists and ensembles from across the globe. The season begins in September 2015 and continues through May 2016.


“Our 25th anniversary season continues to provide a remarkable variety of performing arts that both entertains and educates,” said Thomas Reynolds, director of artistic programming, marketing and audience services at the Center for the Arts. “In his role as the dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, William Reeder has been instrumental in encouraging the Great Performances at Mason season. In particular, Bill has encouraged us to create opportunities for the Great Performances at Mason to support the work and mission of the academic programs. We’re extremely pleased that it was recently announced that Rick Davis has been appointed the new dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. Rick’s longstanding commitment to creating exceptional performing arts experiences has been demonstrated here, at the Center for the Arts in Fairfax and at the Hylton Performing Arts Center on Mason’s Prince William Campus. We are thrilled to have his inspired leadership to continue to make the Great Performances at Mason such a vital part of life at George Mason University and in the greater Washington, D.C. area.” Davis came to Mason in 1992 and is currently the executive director of the Hylton Performing Arts Center. He has also served as the artistic director of the Center for the Arts and the associate provost for undergraduate education, and teaches in Mason’s School of Theater.

The 10th Anniversary of ARTS by George!

Bernadette-Peters. Photo by Andrew Eccles.
Bernadette-Peters. Photo by Andrew Eccles.

In the past decade, the College of Visual and Performing Arts’ annual ARTS by George! gala has become one of the most popular arts benefit events in the greater D.C. area. Mason’s dedicated arts patrons have raised $1.3 million for student scholarships in the areas of dance, music, theater, visual arts, film and video studies, computer game design and arts management, as well as the Great Performances at Mason season, throughout the past 10 years. This unique event provides the community with the opportunity to experience fascinating and cutting-edge work by the College’s talented students and faculty and interact with the next generation of artists

ARTS by George! culminates in the Center’s Concert Hall with An Evening with Bernadette Peters. The two-time Tony Award winner and foremost Sondheim interpreter will be accompanied by a 10-piece orchestra as she sings highlights from her illustrious career, which includes Sondheim’s Into the Woods, Gypsy, Sunday in the Park with George, A Little Night Music, and Follies, as well as her Tony Award-winning appearances in Song and Dance and Annie Get Your Gun.

Dynamic Dance

George Mason University has cultivated lasting and fruitful relationships with world class dance companies in the past 25 years, and as a result, two ensembles appearing on the Center’s stage as part of this year’s Dynamic Dance series feature gifted alumni from Mason’s prestigious School of Dance.

19_savion-gloverRIOULT, the brainchild of former Martha Graham principal dancer Pascal Rioult, returns to the Center with an all-Bach program – and brings along company apprentice Candace V. Perry, who graduated from Mason in 2014 with a B.F.A. in dance; Fairfax native Catherine Cooch is also a dancer with the company.

Celebrating its 35th anniversary season, Mark Morris Dance Group presents treasured gems from this brilliant choreographer’s expansive repertoire performed by Morris’ elite ensemble of dancers, which includes School of Dance alums Rita Donahue (B.F.A., 2002) and Billy Smith (B.F.A., 2007).
The new season also features tap prodigy and preeminent choreographer Savion Glover with DANCE HOLIDAY SPeCTaCULaR, an unforgettable evening of heart-pounding dance, bright lights and joyous music that bursts with holiday cheer. Committed to preserving the timeless traditions of classical Russian ballet, Moscow Festival Ballet presents Giselle and Swan Lake.

Magnificent Music

This season’s Magnificent Music series begins with two of Europe’s great musical institutions in a sublime evening of Spanish and French classical music by Bizet, Rodrigo and Massanet when Bavaria’s Munich Symphony Orchestra under Maestro Philippe Entremont pairs up with Spanish classical guitar virtuoso Pepe Romero and his acclaimed family quartet, The Romeros.

27_disney-fantasiaClassical music lovers of all ages will be delighted by dancing hippos, ostriches and alligators; frolicking mythical centaurs and unicorns; and one famous mouse dabbling in magic when Disney’s Fantasia: Live in Concert appears at the Center. This enchanting performance features stunning imagery from the original “Fantasia” from 1940, as well as its popular sequel, “Fantasia 2000,” onscreen above a live orchestra playing Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker Suite,” Beethoven’s “Pastoral Symphony,” Dukas’ “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and much more.

Other classical music performances this season include the Polish Baltic Philharmonic Orchestra performing works by Wagner, Rimsky-Korsakov and Chopin under Maestro Boguslaw Dawidow with guest pianist Marcin Koziak. A glorious holiday tradition at the Center, Grammy Award-winning male a cappella group Chanticleer brings its A Chanticleer Christmas concert on Thanksgiving weekend.

Global View

Each season, the Center takes its audience to the far corners of the globe through the fascinating and diverse music and dance performances in the Global View series.

14_bollywoodBollywood Masala Orchestra and Dancers of India appear at the Center for the first time with The Spirit of India, a captivating performance of traditional and contemporary Indian music and songs from Bollywood’s most popular films, as well as astounding acts of daredevilry such as standing on swords, fire-breathing and the spellbinding Snake Charming Dance.

One of China’s most established circus troupes, The National Circus and Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China performs a new show titled Peking Dreams, a jaw-dropping spectacle filled with Chinese circus, acrobatics and Peking Opera that will dazzle audiences of all ages.

Filling the Center’s stage with the majestic pageantry of British military tradition and history, The Band of the Royal Marines and the Pipes, Drums and Highland Dancers of the Scots Guards showcase distinctive sounds of bagpipes and brass, stirring anthems, regimental marches and spirited Scottish dancing.

Also appearing next season are Japanese Taiko drummers TAO with Seventeen Samurai; Irish band Danú with A Christmas Gathering: Féile Na Nollag; Celtic Nights with Spirit of Freedom, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day; and Compañia Flamenca José Porcel with Flamenco Fire, a breathtaking extravaganza representing the golden age of flamenco.

American Echoes

The American Echoes series features the Grammy Award-winning Turtle Island Quartet with acclaimed jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut performing Jelly, Rags & Monk, a program tracing the history of ragtime music from its earliest beginnings with Jelly Roll Morton and Scott Joplin to the modern genius of Thelonius Monk.

17_afpo (1)Appearing for the first time at the Center is the Art of Time Ensemble, which pays homage to the record that Rolling Stone called “the most important rock album ever made,” and the preeminent band that conceived this counterculture work of genius. This exciting performance features new jazz, pop and classical arrangements of popular songs from The Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, performed with Barenaked Ladies lead singer Steven Page and other pop vocalists.

Also appearing this season are two regional favorites: Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra with Caribbean Rhythms – Journey to the Islands, featuring steel pan virtuoso Victor Provost of the Grammy Award-winning Afro Bop Alliance; and the American Festival Pops Orchestra with its annual Holiday Pops: Songs of the Season concert, which includes cherished Christmas carols and beloved holiday favorites, special guest soloists and the ever-popular carol sing-along.

Enthralling Theater

09_latheatre-draculaThis season’s Enthralling Theater series begins with America’s premier radio theater company, L.A. Theatre Works, which brings a bone-chilling production of Dracula to the stage on Halloween night. In this acclaimed adaptation by Charles Morey, Dracula quietly moves from his native Transylvania to Victorian London and terrorizes the city as he preys upon its helpless citizens. The heroic Dr. Van Helsing is the only person who can stop the carnage, but to do so, he must uncover the vampire’s lair and pierce Dracula’s heart with a wooden stake.

Swiss mime troupe Mummenschanz, which first appeared at the Center as part of the 1991-1992 season, returns with a delightful performance that will captivate young and old alike. These unique artists perform in complete silence on a blackened stage with common household objects and simple forms to create ingenious illusions and amusing narratives that provide light-hearted insights on life.

The new season also features British-American touring troupe Aquila Theatre with productions of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and Philadelphia’s Walnut Street Theatre with Eugene O’Neill’s A Moon for the Misbegotten.

Virginia Opera: Matinees or Evening

Virginia Opera, the Official Opera Company of the Commonwealth of Virginia, returns to the Center with a full-opera season that includes a hilarious comic operetta and several heartrending tragedies.

The season begins with Orpheus in the Underworld, Jacques Offenbach’s rollicking and irreverent romp through Heaven, Earth and Hell, which turns the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice on its head. Its magnificent melodies, risqué humor and lively “Infernal Galop” — the spirited tune that launched the French dance hall craze called the Can-Can — make this farcical comic operetta one hell of a party!

13_va-la-bohemeVirginia Opera then presents Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème, the bittersweet tale of starving young artists in Paris struggling to survive and fulfill their dreams, getting by on passion, friendship, humor and a lust for life.

On Valentine’s Day weekend, Virginia Opera presents Charles Gounod’s lush and luminous Romeo and Juliet, which pairs Shakespeare’s quintessential love story with French Romantic period music, including Juliet’s famous waltz, “Je veux vivre” (I Want to Live).

Virginia Opera concludes its season with Richard Wagner’s immortal tale of the cursed sea captain, The Flying Dutchman. Set against the backdrop of a violent and turbulent sea, this gripping saga features themes of deliverance, loyalty, sacrifice and the supernatural; powerful ideas that Wagner continued to explore in his operas throughout his illustrious career.

Keyboard Conversations® with Jeffrey Siegel

01_siegel (1)Jeffrey Siegel has been bringing Keyboard Conversations® to the Center almost as long as it has been open! Now in its 23rd season at the Center, this popular “concerts with commentary” series sees this virtuoso pianist and storyteller providing illuminating insight into the lives and works of the world’s great composers.

This season includes Music of Joyous Celebration! with festive and uplifting works by Bach, Schumann, Rachmaninoff, Manuel de Falla and others.

Chopin and Grieg – A Musical Friendship explores the relationship between these two great Romantic Era composers who were full of nationalistic pride.

Splendor from Silence honors Beethoven, Smetana and Fauré  ̶  three composers who triumphed in the creation of profoundly beautiful and transcendental music without being able to hear a note.

In the final performance of the season, which is titled Musical Pictures, Siegel serves up an aural feast that envisions glorious sights through rapturous sounds by Mussorgsky, Rachmaninoff and Debussy.

Holidays at the Center for the Arts

15_chanticleerHere at the Center, we don’t ring in the holiday season – we sing it in – with a heartfelt concert featuring 12 of the most masterful male voices on the planet. Chanticleer present its traditional A Chanticleer Christmas concert on Thanksgiving weekend, a glorious performance of ancient hymns, venerated sacred songs, contemporary classics, gospel spirituals and treasured American and European carols, all performed with lush harmonies and impeccable technique.

Vienna Boys Choir returns with its idyllic Christmas in Vienna concert, truly one of the great pleasures of the holiday season. These youngsters perform a broad range of music for the holidays, from sacred hymns and traditional Christmas carols to holiday pop favorites and folk songs from across the globe.
Other joyous holiday offerings this season include Celtic band Danú with A Christmas Gathering: Féile Na Nollag, American Festival Pops Orchestra with Holiday Pops: Songs of the Season and tap master Savion Glover with DANCE HOLIDAY SPeCTaCULaR.

Subscriptions to Great Performances at Mason are available now and single tickets go on sale on Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015. For a brochure, please call (703) 993-ARTS (2787) or email [email protected]. For more information about this upcoming season, please visit Like George Mason University’s Center for the Arts on Facebook at and follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @GMU_CFA.

About Great Performances at Mason

Center for the arts 200x200

Great Performances at Mason is a program of George Mason University’s Center for the Arts, the professional presentation and production arm of the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA). CVPA provides an academic environment in which the arts are explored as individual disciplines and interdisciplinary forms that strengthen one another. The college prepares students for careers as creators, performers, teachers, scholars, arts leaders and arts entrepreneurs.

Understanding that an education in the arts is deepened by regular contact with the work of distinguished visiting artists, the Center for the Arts, the professional presentation and production arm of the college, welcomes a variety of professional and world-renowned artists, musicians and actors to its stage. Students have the opportunity to perform, create and exhibit their work in a wide variety of public venues including a 2,000-seat Concert Hall. CVPA is home to the Schools of Music, Dance, Art and Theater, as well as the Computer Game Design, Arts Management and Film and Video Studies programs.

About George Mason University

george mason picture

George Mason University is Virginia’s largest public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls more than 33,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. Mason has grown rapidly over the past half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity and commitment to accessibility. Mason is also one of the best values in higher education, producing graduates who lead all Virginia schools with the highest annual salaries.

Hylton Performing Arts Center Announces 2015-2016 Performance Season by Jill Graziano Laiacona.


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