Center for the Arts Announces 2011-12 Season

Posted: April 11, 2011 at 1:05 am, Last Updated: April 12, 2011 at 2:54 pm

By Jill Graziano Laiacona

Award-winning composer, conductor and pianist Marvin Hamlisch will be joined by Michael Feinstein at ARTS by George! in September. Photo by Jason Cohn

At a news conference on April 7, Mason’s Center for the Arts announced its 2011-12 season of Great Performances at Mason, featuring more than 50 performances by nationally and internationally renowned artists.

The season begins in fall 2011 and continues through spring 2012.

“None of this would be possible without the excellent underwriting that we receive from our sponsors, who recognize the value that the arts have in the lives of their customers and employees,” said Rick Davis, artistic advisor of the Center for the Arts. Davis recognized 2011-12 corporate sponsors HSBC Bank, the Global View series sponsor, and Steinway Piano Gallery of Washington, D.C., the Keyboard Conversations sponsor.

Mason President Alan Merten also spoke at the news conference and praised the Center for the Arts for cultivating the relationship between the university and the surrounding community.

“For more than 20 years, the Center for the Arts has served as George Mason University’s welcome point, inviting the community to be a part of Mason’s commitment to the arts,” Merten said. “More than four million people have attended events in this incredible and versatile space.”

Tom Reynolds, the center’s director of artistic programming, marketing and audience services, said as he presented the new season: “I’m thrilled to reveal a spectacular season of performances that demonstrates the center’s commitment to extraordinary diversity, with offerings this year including everything from a Mariachi band to the Mariinsky Orchestra.”

ARTS By George!

One of the highlights of the center’s season is the annual ARTS by George! event hosted by the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA). For the sixth year, ARTS by George! will showcase the talents of CVPA students and faculty. The event culminates in the Concert Hall with a joint performance by vocalist Michael Feinstein and award-winning composer, conductor and pianist Marvin Hamlisch.  Scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 24, the event supports student scholarships in dance, music, theater, visual arts, film and video studies, computer game design and arts management, as well as the Great Performances at Mason series.

Contemporary, Classical and Global Dance

The athletic and acrobatic dance company Pilobus comes to the Center for the Arts in November. Photo by John Kane

The center announced a diverse Dynamic Dance series that includes:

  • Martha Graham Dance Company performing “Appalachian Spring,” as well as a collaboration with the Mason Dance Company
  • Modern dance by River North Dance Chicago and Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, making their Center for the Arts debuts
  • Pilobolus
  • Complexions Contemporary Ballet
  • Moscow Festival Ballet presenting “The Sleeping Beauty” and “Cinderella”
  • Compañia Flamenca José Porcel

Classical Artists and Ensembles

The Magnificent Music series features:

  • Valery Gergiev conducting the Mariinsky Orchestra in Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5
  • Chamber Orchestra Kremlin conducted by Misha Rachlevsky, performing music of the Russian masters plus audience choices
  • Roman Leontiev conducting the St. Petersburg State Orchestra in Ravel’s “Daphnis et Chloé”: Suite No. 2 and Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade” for Orchestra, Op. 35, as well as Prokofiev’s Concerto No. 1 in D-flat major with pianist Alexandre Pirojenko
  • Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra under conductor Andrey Boreyko to perform Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4, Op. 36 in F minor and a violin concerto with Robert McDuffie
  • Nordwest Deutsche Philharmonic appearing under Eugene Tzigane to perform Grieg’s “Peer Gynt” Suite No. 1 and Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 in C minor, as well Victor Herbert’s Cello Concerto No. 2 in E minor with cellist Amit Peled
  • Pianist Christopher O’Riley and cellist Matt Haimovitz performing an evening of classical and popular music genres that mingle artists as diverse as Bach, Stravinsky, Piazzolla, Nirvana and Radiohead

Global View

The artists in the Global View series hail from countries as diverse as Cuba, Portugal, South Africa, Japan, Colombia and China. Among them are:

  • “Kings of Salsa,” a Latin music and dance sensation by Cuban choreographer Roclan Gonzalez Chavez with live music by Cuba Ashire
  • Contraltro Mariza presenting the “Portuguese blues”
  • National Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China
  • Grammy Award-winning Soweto Gospel Choir of South Africa
  • Ballet Folklórico de Antioquia, Colombia
  • Taiko drum ensemble TAO interpreting the ancient art of Japanese drumming

American Art Forms

Saxophonist Branford Marsalis and his quartet of jazz masters visit Fairfax in October. Photo courtesy of Columbia Artists Management Inc.

The American Echoes series brings:

  • Grammy-winning saxophonist Branford Marsalis leading his quartet in original compositions and modern jazz standards
  • “The Miles Davis Experience: 1949-1959: A Collaboration with Blue Note Records,” a multimedia production featuring live music by trumpeter Jason Palmer and his quintet, photography, film clips and beat poet-style narration
  • Virtuoso pianist Chucho Valdés and his band, the Afro-Cuban Messengers
  • Arlo Guthrie with his son, Abe Guthrie; grandson, Krishna Guthrie; and longtime collaborator Terry a La Berry in “Boys Night Out”
  • “The All New Original Tribute to the Blues Brothers” combining classic R&B music and madcap comedy
  • Under the direction of Jim Carroll, the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra bringing classics by Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and more
  • The American Festival Pops Orchestra led by Anthony Maiello presenting the work of American composers John Williams, Duke Ellington, Cole Porter and John Philip Sousa, as well as favorites from Broadway, cinema and television

Classic and Contemporary Theater

The center will present five classic and contemporary plays by four acclaimed theater companies in its Enthralling Theater series.

  • Aquila Theatre performs Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest,” and Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”
  • Walnut Street Theatre presents David Auburn’s Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play, “Proof”
  • The Acting Company performs “Julius Caesar”
  • Theater of the First Amendment (TFA), Mason’s professional theater in residence, performs “Stay,” which was conceived by choreographer Susan Shields and TFA’s co-artistic director Heather McDonald and  merges theater, dance, SLAM multimedia, film and music

Virginia Opera

The Virginia Opera returns with a season of four new productions:

  • Verdi’s “Aida”
  • The Brothers Grimm fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel” with a score by Englebert Humperdinck
  • Philip Glass’ “Orphée”
  • Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado”

Keyboard Conversations With Jeffrey Siegel

Pianist Jeffrey Siegel returns for the 19th season of his popular “concerts with commentary” series, this year featuring:

  • “A Beethoven Bonanza”
  • “From Heart to Art: The Romantic Music of Franz Liszt”
  • “Russian Rapture: Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky”
  • “The Power and Passion of Brahms”

Holiday Greetings

The center’s holiday offerings reflect the diversity of celebrations throughout the world and include:

  • “A Chanticleer Christmas” featuring traditional Christmas carols, revered sacred works and popular holiday favorites
  • Bluegrass duo Dailey and Vincent presenting “I Believe in Christmas”
  • Rural folk pianist George Winston presenting “The Winter Show”
  • Fiddler Natalie MacMaster  presenting “Christmas in Cape Breton” with traditional and contemporary Celtic melodies and Christmas carols
  • Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano presenting “Fiesta Navidad”

Subscriptions to Great Performances at Mason are available now, and single tickets go on sale Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011. For a brochure with more information, please call 703-993-2787 or email

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