Vol. 54: November 2017 Newsletter
As most of you know, I have two jobs at George Mason University – Executive Director of this wonderful performing arts center (since 2011), and Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts (since 2015), under whose umbrella the Hylton Center resides. It’s a busy life, for sure, but also a highly rewarding one in that I have the rare privilege of experiencing the impact of the arts across a wide swath of the region we call Northern Virginia, and on lives ranging in age from eighteen months (no kidding!) to 90+ years (no kidding!).
This more-than-normally-comprehensive exposure to the high value of the performing and visual arts has led me to develop a very swift, very simple, but very accurate “elevator speech” to describe what we’re about. You have, I hope, heard it before: The Arts Create Community. It’s a speech that you can deliver as the elevator doors are closing and you’re selecting your floor. But in many important ways, it is the whole story.
Consider what’s ahead at our amazing Hylton Center this month. A dynamic duo, Ben and Joe, continue our new and already popular “American Roots” Series at 8 pm on November 9, but not before they play for 1,000 students from Manassas and Prince William schools in a special appearance that morning. Jazz 4 Justice brings the nationally-recognized Mason Jazz Ensemble to our stage to raise money with great music for a great cause on Nov. 10th. Then the very next day we open our doors once again at 1:00 pm for Celebrating Veterans and the Arts, our third annual all-hands-on-deck program honoring Veterans and Servicemembers and their families, and welcoming the whole community, for an afternoon of music and art and fellowship, followed by a very special concert at 4:00 pm by an all-Veteran-ensemble — the American Festival Pops All-Stars — drawn from the ranks of our beloved “house orchestra” that brings us such joy at holiday time and beyond. What a weekend that will be! Creating community on every level.
But wait, as the TV spokespeople say, there’s more! When have you had the chance to see a prize-winning, internationally-acclaimed Zimbabwean female a cappella gospel quintet recently? Or ever? Nobuntu, on their first American tour, comes to the Hylton Center on November 17th. Don’t miss it — we’re creating community across cultures and oceans, across styles and genres, on that night.
I could go on — but this newsletter will give you all the evidence you need to affirm that our elevator speech is alive and well at the Hylton Center. Come and be part of this growing, thriving, necessary, and joyous community. See you soon!
– Executive Director and Dean
On Saturday, November 11 from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m., join us at the Hylton Center for a free, family-friendly Veterans Day Celebration as part of the Veterans and the Arts Initiative. Throughout the afternoon, engage in hands-on arts experiences for Veterans, Servicemembers, their families, military caregivers, and the general public. This lively event features community-based resources and networking, as well as complimentary refreshments, interactive music/art workshops, and an exhibition of Veteran artwork. At 4 p.m., the American Festival Pops All-Stars (a band of Veteran musicians from the original American Festival Pops orchestra) will perform a special ticketed concert Salute to Veterans: A Concert for All Ages, featuring multigenerational music favorites from across the decades. Preceding this ticketed concert, Bryan Kidd, USN, MUCF (Ret.) and American Festival Pops Arranger-in-Residence, will offer a Pre-performance discussion at 3 p.m. in the Buchanan Partners Art Gallery. The concert is free to the Veteran community; $15 general public.
During the performance, the American Festival Pops All-Stars will showcase guests, including the vocal ensemble Mason Jazz Voices, vocalists Darden Purcell and Jim Van Slyke, and 14 year-old tap-dancing sensation Luke Spring. Conductor Anthony Maiello will lead the ensemble comprising the wind, brass, and rhythm sections of the Pops. Don't miss your chance to honor the Veterans in your life and in our community on November 11! Learn More | Concert Information
Thanksgiving is around the corner and the Hylton Center is ready to celebrate with an inspiring line-up of performances including blues and American roots music, acrobatics and martial arts, classical chamber music, a traditional Zimbabwean a capella quintet, and family theater. This month, look for Northwest roots and blues music duo Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons (11/9) as they perform the second in a series of four performances on the Hylton’s new American Roots Series in a concert of field hollers, fiddle and banjo breakdowns. Next up at the Hylton Center, the Martial Artists and Acrobats of Tianjin (11/12) take the stage with family-friendly spectacles of acrobatic stunts, feats of balance, juggling acts, contortion tricks, and martial arts guaranteed to dazzle all ages.
The Matinee Idylls series continues with the Washington Saxophone Quartet (WSaxQ) (11/14) performing a variety of selections from Bach to Gershwin. Enjoy lunch by Shawn’s Smokehouse BBQ Company followed by a one-hour concert and a coffee/dessert reception with the artists (special lunch package price applies). Celebrating more than 40 years together, WSaxQ is the most widely heard saxophone quartet in the country and is heard daily through recorded arrangements of the theme for National Public Radio’s program “All Things Considered.” November also brings the stirring sounds of internationally-acclaimed female a cappella quintet Nobuntu (11/17) to Merchant Hall in a concert of traditional Zimbabwean music, afro jazz, gospel, and crossover. Named after the African concept of humbleness, love, unity, purpose, and family from a woman’s perspective, this ensemble represents a new generation of African women who celebrate and preserve the beauty of their culture and heritage through song.
Enchantment Theatre Company closes out this month’s performances with the Hylton Family Series presentation My Father’s Dragon (11/18). Ruth Stiles Gannett’s classic tale of a courageous boy and his unlikely friendship with a splendid yellow and blue-striped dragon comes to life in a distinctive blend of puppets, masks, creative scenic effects, and original music. Learn More
Let the Hylton Center be the first to spread musical holiday cheer with treasured performances by Chanticleer, Paul Anka, the American Festival Pops Orchestra, and Dailey & Vincent. World-renowned male a cappella ensemble Chanticleer (11/26) sets a merry mood in a performance of classical and pop favorites you know and love. Praised by the San Francisco Chronicle for their “tonal luxuriance and crisply etched clarity,” the group has sold more than a million albums, won two Grammy® Awards, and was named Ensemble of the Year by Musical America in 2008.
In December, legendary singer/songwriter and Hylton Center EXTRA! Paul Anka (12/1) takes the stage in a swinging concert of his greatest hits, while the American Festival Pops Orchestra (12/8) returns to Merchant Hall with its annual family concert of cheerful carols and cherished holiday tunes. Be sure to also catch Dailey & Vincent: Spirit of Christmas (12/10) for their much-anticipated return to the Hylton Center in a holiday offering of country and bluegrass favorites. Dubbed the “Rockstars of Bluegrass” by Country Music Television, Dailey & Vincent are extolled throughout the music industry as one of the most exciting Bluegrass bands in America.
For more holiday merriment, 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. During the “most wonderful time of the year,” don’t miss your chance to make lasting holiday memories at the Hylton! Learn More
Did you know you can catch the next generation of rising stars through Mason Arts at the Hylton Center? Join us for the annual Jazz 4 Justice™ (11/10) benefit concert presented by the Mason Jazz Ensemble (Jim Carroll, Director) in collaboration with the Prince William County Bar Foundation. Proceeds from this performance support vital community efforts by the Bar Foundation and the George Mason University Jazz Studies Department. The evening features jazz favorites including "Four Brothers," "Manteca," "Anthropology," "Woodchoppers Ball," "Fanfare for the Common Man," "Woody N' You," and more. Learn More
It’s never too early to plan a party or support the arts, which is why we’re giving you plenty of advance notice about the party of the year and we hope you’ll come! Mark your calendars for Saturday, April 14, 2018 at 8:30 p.m. when the After Party following the Hylton’s 8th Anniversary Gala kicks off the best party in town, complete with craft cocktails by KO Distilling, late-night snacks and sweet desserts, dancing with D.C.'s premier band, Keynote, relaxing in the Jazz Lounge, and more fun surprises. Help us celebrate eight seasons of outstanding performances and programs, all while raising funds to support the arts in our region. All proceeds raised from the Gala and After Party benefit the Hylton Center's artistic performances and programs. After Party tickets are $75 per person. Learn More | Get Tickets