Hylton Performing Arts Center

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Vol. 44: November 2016 Newsletter

Director's Corner

Community Thoughts

I give a lot of tours of our beautiful arts center. In fact, walking through and talking about the Hylton Center is, I think, the best part of my job. I love telling the story of its remarkable founding (we opened in 2010, but the origins go back two decades), describing the many features, some very visible and some quite subtle, of its design, laying out the amazing range of activities that animate the building week in and week out, and make it so much more than a collection of bricks and steel, copper and carpet. It has a heart and soul too.

On one day recently I gave a tour, as I do every fall, to a group of students in our graduate Arts Management program—these young people, from all over Virginia, D.C., the Midwest, Northeast, and a sizeable contingent from China, are pursuing their Master’s degrees in a field that calls for their energy and insight. For as much as we need artists to create the wonders that shed new light on our world, we need managers to create and sustain the structures, both physical and cultural, that support their work.

Seeing the Hylton Center and hearing its stories is always a revelation for these students. It brings home the whole idea of why arts centers are born and how they grow. The particulars of the Hylton Center story are rooted in a forward-looking, bi-partisan, boundary-blurring exercise of community vision and spirit, bringing people together to accomplish something transformational. That story begins in the 1990s and continues today, providing inspiration (and maybe even guidance!) to those who live it or know about it.

The present-day Hylton Center offers example after example of the power of that vision. On the evening of my latest tour, the Manassas Symphony Orchestra had a rehearsal on Merchant Hall stage, and their music director, Jim Villani, graciously allowed me to bring the class (on its best grad student behavior) into the hall to experience the brilliant design and unmatched acoustics in action. We also— just as importantly—got to experience a few minutes of great music-making as well, and the students were astonished when I told them later that this was one of our Resident Arts Partners, and a local, all-volunteer (and, oh yes, nationally awarded) orchestra.

That bit of lucky timing tells the Hylton Center story as well as—better than—any of my stories. A theater as beautiful and capable as any you’ll find, hosting a rehearsal of a great community ensemble, in the presence of awe-struck students from around the Commonwealth, the nation, and the world—I’d say we’re on to something here.

Please read the rest of this action-packed newsletter with the idea of community on your mind. The month of November (in these precincts) is full of artistry and celebration, grace and joy, remembrance and reflection. Come join us!

Rick Davis
- Executive Director
and Dean


Celebrate Veterans Week at the Hylton

We are excited to remind you about some very special Veterans events happening at the Hylton Center November 6 -11. These events are FREE for all and culminate on November 11 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. in a lively interactive day of celebration and arts experiences for Veterans, Servicemembers, their families, and the community. We hope you'll join us for one or more of the following celebrations designed to honor those who have served, or currently serve, our country.

NOVEMBER 7–DECEMBER 11: Buchanan Partners Art Gallery Exhibition: The Arts and the Military: Moving through Memories of Service and Conflict
The Gallery Reception for this exhibition is on November 10 from 6-8 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Learn more.

NOVEMBER 9: The U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own” Salute to Veterans

NOVEMBER 11: Veterans Day 2016 at the Hylton Center: Celebrating Veterans and the Arts


For Your Littlest Arts Lover

Imagination StageLittle ones get big underwater inspiration in an interactive music and theater performance designed for children ages 1-5. Tickets are just $10 for Imagination Stage’s production of Aquarium, November 3-5 that incorporates fun props, gentle music, and beautiful puppets into a magical world where jellyfish fly through the air and lemons create the sun in a “let’s pretend” sky! Learn more.

The Hylton Welcomes 2016 Mandolin Player of the Year

Sierra HullMaster of the mandolin, soulful songstress, and Hylton Center Extra! artist Sierra Hull performs a wistful program of bluegrass and folk-pop tunes on November 7 in the intimate Gregory Family Theater, set with café tables for an up close and personal musical experience. A recent recipient of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) “Mandolin Player of the Year” award, Sierra was recognized at age 11 as a mandolin prodigy and has skillfully honed her talent ever since. Her musical artistry continues to astonish audiences and critics alike, as this ten-time IBMA award-nominee regularly performs to sold-out venues across the country and collaborates with leading bluegrass and country musicians including Béla Fleck and Alison Krauss. A tone-true vocalist and performer of the highest order, she "plays the mandolin with a degree of refined elegance and freedom that few have achieved" (Béla Fleck). Don't miss Hull's optimistic and powerful meditation on the mandolin! Learn more.

Mason Stars Shine at the Hylton

Mason Stars

Images above: The Threepenny Opera (left) and Jazz for Justice (right).

Did you know that the talented students of George Mason University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts perform at the Hylton Center throughout the season? During the month of November, catch the stars of tomorrow in two stellar productions: Mason Musical: The Threepenny Opera (presented by the Schools of Music and Theater, Nov. 3-5) and Jazz 4 Justice (presented by the School of Music, Nov. 11). Mason Musical: The Threepenny Opera captivates as wartime camaraderie and sacrifices set the stage for a satirical and entertaining examination of class struggle and sexual politics in Post-WWI New York City. Next, Mason’s Jazz Ensemble teams up with the Prince William Bar Foundation for an annual benefit concert with a special Veterans Day "Tribute to the Greatest Generation." And, for a sneak peek into early December, the holiday classic Amahl and the Night Visitors, presented by the School of Music, enchants in the intimate Gregory Family Theater December 2-3. Please visit the following link for information on other Mason Arts performances at the Hylton.


What's New in November?

Shanghai Acrobats and Windham HillThe Hylton Presents series leaps (quite literally) into November with the popular Shanghai Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China: Shanghai Nights (11/12). Bring the entire family to this jaw-dropping performance of acrobatic feats and stunning costumes celebrating China’s rich cultural heritage. Windham Hill celebrates in equal measure as it welcomes the wintertide in A Winter Solstice Concert on November 27. Grammy-nominated artists Liz Story (piano) and Barbara Higbie (singer-songwriter) join with Sean Harkness (guitar) for an evening of beloved carols and winter songs of diverse holiday traditions.

Images above: Shanghai Acrobats (left) and Liz Story of Windham Hill (right)


We're Decking Merchant Hall... with Ornaments!

What’s shiny and bright and selling fast? The 2016 Hylton Center annual ornament! Luckily, it’s not too late to purchase yours. Just in time for the holidays, let this stunning miniature likeness of Merchant Hall serve as a special Hylton Center memento for you or a friend. A fundraising project of the community organization Performing Arts for Kids (PAK), proceeds from this ornament directly support fostering arts experiences for thousands of school children throughout Greater Prince William County through special field trip performances to the Hylton Center, scholarships, and support designed to advance local student talents. This year’s annual ornament is available for purchase at the Hylton Center Ticket Office (Tuesday - Saturday, 10 am - 6 pm) and in the lobby prior to select Hylton Presents performances. For more information call the Ticket Office at 703-993-7759. More information about PAK.


Friends Spotlight

Friends of the Hylton Center get “Behind the Magic” and so can you when you become a Friend of the Hylton Center at the Contributor level and above. Once at this membership level, your membership benefits include an in-depth private backstage tour of the Hylton Center! This year, we added a twist to that benefit with our first “Behind the Magic” reception and tour. On October 6, twenty Friends of the Hylton Center enjoyed a reception with Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts and Hylton Center Executive Director, Rick Davis, followed by a backstage tour and on-stage discussion with the Hylton Center’s Master Electrician and Lead Audio Engineer. But don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what two of our Friends of the Hylton Center had to say about this exciting new benefit:

“I enjoyed the tour and discussion with the staff who handle the lighting and sound at the Hylton Center. Getting “Behind the Magic” has helped me realize what a truly world-class venue the Hylton Center is and how lucky we are to have it in our backyard.”—Bill Brogdon, member since 2010

"I have enjoyed concerts and entertainment at venues around the world and have taken many backstage tours ofsuch facilities.As someone who has enjoyed the benefit of a beautiful performing arts center in Manassas, I thought I knew the Hylton Center quite well. The "Behind the Magic" tour was a reminder that the Hylton Center facility is world-class and the lighting, sound, production, and artists are second to none."Ed Wright, member since 2014

Friends Spotlight at Hylton Performing Arts Center

So popular are these behind-the-scenes experiences, Hylton staff are already busy planning the next “Behind the Magic” tour. Members at the Contributor level and above should expect information to be sent after the New Year. If you are interested in taking a tour, join the Friends of the Hylton Center for as little as $21 per month or $250 a year. Current Friends can also upgrade their memberships to take advantage of this benefit. Click here to join the Friends or upgrade your current membership. If you have any questions, please contact Jacqueline Connor, Development Coordinator at jconnor8@gmu.edu or 703-993-7150.


SERVE Up Some Good Will

The Hylton Center is having a winter accessory drive to benefit SERVE in Manassas. Members of our community (infants, children, and adults) are in need of the following winter items:

  • HATS

Please make sure donated items are clean and in good condition or brand new. Donations will be accepted November 25 through December 23 in the Didlake Grand Foyer of the Hylton Center; open Tue-Sat 10 am-6 pm and 2 hours before performances.


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