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Vol. 53: October 2017 Newsletter

Director's Corner

Autumnal syncopations

Last year at about this time I opened my column with these words:

“As I write this, the signs of autumn are creeping into view. Our baseball team is in the playoffs and our football team is not yet officially out of them.”

Though much has changed in the intervening year, there is some comfort in seasonal rhythms and rituals, which allow us to see the nuances, the smaller variations in the expected patterns of life that might otherwise get drowned out by the big noises of the world. One of those rhythms is the return of shorter days (right on time) cooler weather (later arriving this year, but on its way) and the corresponding movement toward evenings indoors, around the warmth of an actual or metaphorical fireside, in the company of family and friends.

For all of us reading this, one of our favorite firesides is the Hylton Performing Arts Center. And we've been busy throwing logs on the hearth already, with a sold-out opening night, a fantastic art exhibition, a number of special events, and a beautiful Matinee Idylls performance. Those are the familiar patterns of early autumn at the Hylton Center.

But we're always looking for those variations on the rhythm of our work—maybe we could call them syncopations?—that keep life interesting, that refocus our attention on the movement of the pattern. I'll call out two here, and invite you to scroll (or stroll) through the rest of this newsletter to see the rest.

The first and newest variation is our American Roots Series, making its debut on October 6 in the Gregory Family Theater. These wonderful, intimate, fun concerts (with food and beverage available!) will be absolutely delightful both musically and socially, and I think they will quickly become a highlight of every Hylton Center season. Seating is limited, so I urge you to get your tickets now, whether for all four concerts at a nice discount, or one at a time as your schedule permits.

The second syncopation is a “variation on a theme” (something else that musicians are very good at). We've proudly presented the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra for many years, and we're always thrilled by the virtuosity of this big band featuring the finest all-pro jazz musicians from the D.C. metro area. Jim Carroll, the music director of Met Jazz, syncopates the programs from time to time with a distinguished guest artist/soloist. This year looks to be the best yet, with the outrageously talented Bria Skonberg, who is a virtuoso both on trumpet and as a vocalist. This concert promises to be one of the most exciting jazz experiences anywhere this season—to steal a phrase from Scott Joplin, an “elite syncopation.”

I look forward to one of my favorite rituals—seeing you at the Hylton Center!


Rick Davis
– Executive Director and Dean

Fall for Autumn's Upcoming Performances

As the leaves start to fall and the weather gets cooler, we hope you'll check out October's exciting lineup of Hylton Presents performances! Let our new American Roots Series charm you, starting with Annie Stokes / Charm City Junction (10/06), a combined evening of music, drinks, and barbecue. Stokes, a talented indie-folk musician, performs back-to-back with bluegrass ensemble Charm City Junction for a toe-tapping concert that fuses city sounds, country soul, fast-picking bluegrass and Celtic music. The next night, the music of the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra (10/07) sets Merchant Hall ablaze with a hot evening of swinging jazz, fresh beats, and brassy standards featuring millennial trumpet/singer sensation, Bria Skonberg.

Later in October, journey to Argentina with international touring ensemble Tango Buenos Aires (10/13). A showcase of sensual moves and playful dramatics, the artists also entice with melodies of romance and nostalgia. As a ticket holder to this performance you are eligible to participate in a free tango masterclass with instructors from Tango Mercurio right before the performance. Learn More

Also be sure to catch the last performance of the month, Keyboard Conversations® with Jeffrey Siegel: The Longevity of the Short Piece! (10/15). Featuring pieces by Mozart, Chopin, Rachmaninoff and more, Jeffrey delights audiences with his witty commentary about these well-known works! Learn more

Two Dynamic Plays by Tomorrow's Theater Stars

The Hylton Center is excited to present two Mason School of Theater performances in October as part of Mason Arts at the Hylton Center. The Mason School of Theater and Mason Players (a student-run theatrical organization) collaborate for two vibrant plays, Dead Man's Cell Phone (10/12, 10/14) and 1984 (10/13, 10/14). Dead Man's Cell Phone, a wildly imaginative comedy, follows a woman through the odyssey of confronting her own assumptions about morality, redemption, and the need to connect in a technologically obsessed world. 1984 dramatizes Orwell's prescient take on a dystopian society along with additional examination of current events. Mason Fringe Special: Buy a ticket to Dead Man's Cell Phone and 1984 and receive half-off your second ticket! Learn More

Don't Miss This Authentically American Series

amrootsA brand new series is “in the house” — the American Roots Series. Enjoy the Gregory Family Theater dressed up café-style for four up-close, down-home concerts offering the best of bluegrass, folk, country, blues, and more. This much-anticipated series debuts with indie-folk musician Annie Stokes and bluegrass quartet Charm City Junction (10/6) in a double bill performance that fuses city sounds, country soul, fast-picking bluegrass and toe-tapping Celtic music. Next up in November, Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons (11/9), a Northwest roots and blues music duo who share an undeniable musical kinship and sense of joy. The duo's self-proclaimed mission to “spread the glory and whimsy of traditional song” shines through in a concert of field hollers, banjo breakdowns, and early jazz.

The series continues into the spring with the young acoustic power trio Ten Strings And A Goatskin (2/17) in an evening of folk fusion straight from Prince Edward Island. Performing on violin, guitar, and percussion, this dynamic trio transforms tradition with signature sparks of goofy humor. Finally, in April, Grammy-nominated band Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen (4/20) closes the 2017/18 American Roots Series line-up with a uniquely progressive approach to exploring new sounds and concepts rooted in tradition. Performing on the mandolin, banjo, guitar, bass, and vocals, the band combines its collective musical mastery with traditional bluegrass. Learn More

Veterans Shine As Guitarists

amrootsIn its third year, the Hylton Center's Veterans and the Arts Initiative has hit its stride, as well as gained popularity among the local Veteran community, thanks in part to the Dominion Energy Veterans Guitar Workshop series, an immensely popular free program available to Veterans, servicemembers, their families, and military caregivers. (Classes are also open to the general public for a fee.) Every Tuesday since September 5, Veterans of all musical skill levels have gathered to participate in guitar lessons and enjoy camaraderie with fellow Veterans. George Mason University guitar instructor, Glen McCarthy, has been thrilled with the results of the class so far, noting "The guitar class has been a blast! When people leave the class with a smile on their face, singing a song I taught, I know it's been a successful class."

Niyati Dhokai, the Program Manager and Research Assistant Professor for the Hylton Center's Veterans and the Arts Initiative, has also been extremely satisfied with the success of the classes so far and the positive student response. "We have a dynamic group of people in the guitar class from a 9 year-old taking lessons with his dad to military family members and Veterans of all ages.  It's wonderful to hear them come together and play everything from Jingle Bells to Van Morrison to Nirvana in one lesson.  Everyone gets to learn something new - whether it's a new aspect of guitar technique, reading music notes, or trying out a style of music." The Hylton Center will also offer these lessons throughout the spring semester, starting in February and running through April.

Special offer: Drop in for an hour of music or bring a friend on select upcoming lesson days! On Wednesday, November 1, a free sample guitar workshop will be offered from 8 to 9 p.m. to anyone who wishes to participate, including the general public.  Please RSVP to hylton@gmu.edu, especially if you would like to borrow a guitar for the workshop. Learn more

Join the Hylton Center for a Veterans Day Celebration

Veterans and Arts CelebrationCome out to the Hylton Center on Sat., November 11 for a free, family-friendly Veterans Day celebration as part of the Veterans and the Arts Initiative. From 1–4 p.m., experience interactive hands-on arts experiences for Veterans, Servicemembers, their families, military caregivers, and the general public. This lively event kicks off its third year at the Hylton Center and features community-based resources, interactive music and visual art workshops, an exhibition of Veteran artwork, complimentary refreshments, and more. Directly following the celebration, the American Festival Pops All-Stars (a band of Veteran musicians from the original American Festival Pops orchestra) will perform a special ticketed patriotic concert of multigenerational favorites from across the decades. Anthony Maiello leads this ensemble of Veterans comprising the wind, brass, and rhythm sections of the Pops (free to the Veteran community; $15 general public). Don't miss your chance to honor the Veterans in your life and in our community on November 11! Learn More| Concert Information

Help Introduce Young People to the Arts

Paul Anka is coming to the Hylton CenterPurchase a keepsake Hylton Center 2017/18 commemorative ornament ($20) and help ensure access to live performances for kids of all ages! The Hylton Center is proud to work with Performing Arts for Kids (PAK), a non-profit organization that has supported Hylton Center education initiatives since 2013. PAK's mission is to “Support the arts in Prince William County and surrounding communities by engaging students in creative experiences through collaboration with the Hylton Performing Arts Center.”
Ways to support Performing Arts for Kids (PAK):

  • Purchase a keepsake Hylton Center 2017/18 commemorative ornament ($20)
  • Purchase raffle tickets ($5 for 1; $10 for 3) for the chance to win a beautiful Carousel

These items (pictured) are available for purchase from PAK in the Didlake Foyer one and a half hours prior to fall 2017 Hylton Presents performances. Ornaments can also be purchased at the Ticket Office during normal hours of operation.
(Images: PAK Fundraisers. From top: Hylton Center 2017 Commemorative Ornament; Carousel Raffle Prize)

Become a Friends Ambassador and Represent the Hylton Center!

The Hylton Center is excited to kick off the 2017/18 season and looks forward to seeing its Friends Members at upcoming performances and events! Have you ever considered volunteering with the Hylton Center? While we are fortunate to have a loyal group of Friends ambassadors, there is opportunity for even more Friends to join in the fun.
What does a Friends ambassador do?

  • Staff the Friends information table at all Hylton Presents, Hylton Family Series, American Roots, and Hylton Center EXTRA! performances
  • Welcome Friends to the Hospitality Area at all Hylton Presents performances
  • Educate attendees at special Hylton Center events (like Arts Alive! and the Veterans Day Celebration) about upcoming performances at the Hylton Center
  • Represent the Hylton Center at local community fairs and festivals

All Friends ambassadors who help at performances receive a complimentary ticket to that performance. If you are interested in finding out more, contact Jacque Connor at 703-993-7150 or jconnor8@gmu.edu. We look forward to hearing from you!

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