Vol. 55: December 2017 Newsletter
Making Spirits Bright
The days are officially short now. The leaves are almost gone. The world is starting to crawl under the covers.
In this annual rebalancing of the portfolio of darkness and light, warmth and chill, we humans are drawn toward each other and toward sources of light and warmth that comfort us right now and remind us of the brightening days ahead. Ceremonies and rituals that accelerate this gathering-together abound across cultures and millennia. And (not coincidentally) theater seasons kick into high gear: excellent occasions for Light and Warmth.
I’ve written before in this space about a favorite bit of word-origin trivia (not the etymology of trivia itself, a place where three roads meet), but at this time of year I never tire of rekindling this particular ember. When we go to a performance, we naturally turn our focus toward the stage. The performer is the focus of our attention, drawing us all into a shared experience. We know this word in its common optical sense, but if we look into its past, a warmer story emerges.
Focus is the Latin word for hearth or fireplace. Imagine a cold and dark December night. In the distance (or across the courtyard, or in the corner of the room) there is a roaring fire in a hearth. We’re drawn toward that light and warmth. Another person joins us, then another, and pretty soon that group becomes a little temporary community, united by its common focus. A song begins. Someone tells a story. Someone else acts it out. Behold the power of the arts against the darkness and the chill.
Theaters are focal points of communal experience all year, of course, but never more powerfully than in this month of seasonal change and celebration. Your Hylton Performing Arts Center has a bountiful menu of song, dance, and story to make your spirits bright (and keep you warm) in myriad ways. Welcome to our shared, big, beautiful hearth. Let’s share the focus!
– Executive Director and Dean
The Hylton Center ushers in the holiday season with goodwill, cheer, and performances not to be missed! The American Festival Pops Orchestra makes merry in Holiday Pops: Sounds of the Season(12/8), a concert filled with beloved holiday classics performed under the baton of Anthony Maiello, Artistic Director and Conductor. Next, Dailey & Vincent (12/10) take the stage for a rollicking bluegrass experience, featuring country Christmas tunes and swinging banjo beats. And we’re just getting warmed up! The Hylton Center’s Resident Arts Partners delight with their respective celebratory season performances, with the Manassas Chorale continuing the musical holiday festivities with Around the World...It’s Christmas (12/9), a globe-trotting extravaganza of songs and carols from different countries.
No holiday feels complete, however, without the timeless holiday classic The Nutcracker. Join the Manassas Ballet Theatre for twelve performances of The Nutcracker (12/14–23), and experience the magical tale of Clara and her Nutcracker Prince. In the mood for some holiday humor? Take in Prince William Little Theatre’s A Christmas Chaos (12/15–17) for a hilarious backstage comedy that pokes fun at the classic novel A Christmas Carol and everything that can go wrong with a theatrical show. Enjoy these and other dynamic performances, while making special holiday memories with family and friends at the Hylton Center. Learn More
For a festive holiday season, purchase a keepsake Hylton Center 2017/18 commemorative ornament ($20) from the non-profit organization Performing Arts for Kids (PAK) and help ensure access to live performances for kids of all ages! This ornament is available for purchase from PAK in the Didlake Foyer one and a half hours prior to fall 2017 Hylton Presents performances, and can also be purchased at the Ticket Office during normal hours of operation.
Donate your gently-used or new winter hats, gloves, and scarves to benefit SERVE, a local family shelter in Prince William County. From now through December 23, the Hylton Center is accepting items for infants, children, and adults at a table next to the Ticket Office window. SERVE is Northern Virginia’s largest family homeless shelter and is a branch of Northern Virginia Family Services (NVFS). The organization offers a holistic approach to wellness, including food assistance, youth services, health access, and housing location services.
The SERVE campus boasts a variety of distinct programs, including a Family Shelter with almost 100 beds; an 8,000-square-foot Hunger Resource Center (HRC); youth services programs Healthy Families and Early Head Start; and health care access connections that help all ages to obtain free or low-cost prescription medication or medical/ dental care. Marit Majeske, Hylton Center’s Holiday Drive Coordinator, is excited to work with SERVE. "SERVE is such a vital resource for so many in our community. We are very excited to partner with them again this year for our winter drive...We feel very fortunate that we are able to run this drive to help those in our community who need things to keep them warm this winter." The Hylton Center is grateful for the opportunity to support SERVE’s efforts to meet the needs of the local community. Please consider donating winter accessories to our Holiday Drive today. Learn More
The American Festival Pops Orchestra (AFPO), under the baton of Artistic Director and Conductor Anthony Maiello, offers year-round performances dedicated to the finest in popular music. Comprising more than 60 professional musicians from and around the Washington D.C. area, Maestro Maiello has worked diligently since the ensemble’s inception in 2009 to fulfill the AFPO’s mission to “present the best of a treasured musical genre employing some of the country’s most distinguished performing artists.” We recently sat down with the Maestro to find out a little bit more about how a Pops performance comes together.
You have a holiday concert coming up on Friday, Dec 8th. As Artistic Director and Conductor, how does programming a holiday concert differ from programming regular Pops concerts?
One of the challenges in programming for a holiday Concert is finding new music. There is a very delicate balance between performing the standard holiday selections everyone loves to hear and introducing new pieces. The APFO has established selections that have become annual traditions and standards for the audience. Finding new music, different arrangements, and fresh approaches to old tunes is essential to keeping a holiday concert appealing, alive, and spirited.
What is your favorite piece to conduct on holiday concerts, and why?
It is very difficult for me to identify a favorite piece of music—especially on a holiday concert! It’s like asking a parent to choose a favorite child—an impossible choice to make. Every musical selection is unique. It touches one’s heart and musical soul in its own special way.
How do you ensure good teamwork among the members of the American Festival Pops Orchestra, during rehearsals and/or performances?
Attitude begins on the podium. I think of each orchestra member as a part of my musical family and treat them as such. I make three promises to them before we begin preparing for each program:
1. They will always have my utmost respect
2. I will always say please and thank you
3. I will take care of them by giving them proper breaks and periods of rest
I believe that an ensemble is a mirror of the conductor’s actions, efforts, personality, and humanity.
Not only do you currently direct and conduct the Orchestra, you founded it as well! What led you to your work with orchestras, and who have your mentors been in the music field?
My younger daughter, Nancy, is a cellist. Hearing her practice her cello and seeing her sincere love for making music by playing in the American Youth Philharmonic Orchestra was an inspiration to me. I have always loved orchestral music and started studying the viola later in life. The rest is history.
In addition to conducting, do you play any instruments and how did you choose them?
As a conductor, I had to study and play all of the instruments. My basic background is in the woodwind family with a graduate degree in multiple woodwinds. I also started by playing the accordion in the fourth grade. I chose the accordion as a result of watching Lawrence Welk with my family on Saturday evening television when I was a child. My adult nieces and nephews who attended our family gatherings throughout the years tell me that they grew up thinking that all families had a personal accordion player for family events! Our living room floor has seen its share of polka dancing on more than one occasion over the years.
Any other thoughts or anecdotes you would like to share with us?
Music is magical! It is an art form that touches the soul. It is powerful, healing, soothing, stimulating, inspirational, and much more. Sharing it with others is a gift as great as life itself. I cannot think of a better way to live my life!
When the holiday season winds down, the Hylton Center will be gearing up for a spectacular winter/spring lineup of talent you won’t want to miss, starting with Dublin Irish Dance in late January (1/28). This electrifying group takes audiences by storm in a high-energy extravaganza of sights and sounds that explore the history of the Celtic cultural experience through song and dance. Likewise, the Hylton Family Series resumes in early February with blockbuster family spectacular The Hollywood Special FX Show (2/3), an interactive and explosive event that offers the inside scoop on the secrets of movie-making magic.
Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra (2/8) make its Hylton debut with an All Beethoven Program!,, while the American Festival Pops Orchestra returns to Merchant Hall on February 10 for a performance of romantic standards just in time for Valentine’s Day. Enjoy Walnut Street Theatre’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery (2/11), a hilarious romp about everyone’s favorite detective and his most famous case! And, be sure to catch the next American Roots Series talent—acoustic power trio Ten Strings and a Goatskin (2/17) in an evening of folk fusion complete with cabaret-style seating and food and drinks available for purchase. Get your tickets now to these performances while they last, and stay tuned for the Spring Sampler announcement, where you can get 10% off three performances! Learn More
This year, you can support the arts in your community and check off your holiday shopping list with a gift for the person who has everything—the gift of a Hylton Center Membership! For as little as $100, the recipient will enjoy all the benefits of a Friends Membership, including a first look at next season, plus a free DVD of the Dailey & Vincent concert recorded at the Hylton Center (while supplies last).Check out the benefits of all levels of a Hylton Center Membership here, and give the gift of membership to someone special today! Learn More | Gift a Membership Now