Director's Corner

Rick Davis, Dean and Executive Director.

"Try to remember..."

The kind of September we just had should live in our collective memory for a long, long time. I’m still glowing (and recovering) from a series of extraordinary events that, taken together, affirm the role of the Hylton Center in what is often called “placemaking.” Or, and you knew this was coming, we demonstrated once again our assertion that the arts create community.

Here are some highlights of September at the Hylton, and there was a LOT more besides:

Arts Alive! on September 11 was probably the biggest and best version of that joyous celebration of the local and regional literary, visual, and performing arts scene yet. Despite some unrealized weather fears, the building was full of exhibits, performances, interactive educational and discovery opportunities, and the kind of authentic “good to see you” atmosphere that helps stitch the quilt of civil society.

• Mason’s 50th Birthday Party came to the SciTech Campus on the 15th, and the Hylton Center was proud to host. The attendees and speakers comprised a Who’s Who of the university (including alumni from every decade) and the greater Prince William/Manassas/Manassas Park community, demonstrating just how closely they all are intertwined. It was altogether fitting and proper that this celebration took place in the most distinctive symbol of that partnership, our own Hylton Performing Arts Center.

• Norm Lewis. No, make that Norm Lewis! A star on Broadway, film, television, and in the world of advocacy for artists of color, Norm gave an (appropriately) stellar concert to kick off our Hylton Presents season on September 18, showing why he has received such acclaim in leading roles from Porgy and Bess to Les Misérables to Phantom of the Opera and more… and his way with the Great American Songbook is unmatched, too. Our great audience rewarded him with multiple ovations and lots of love, all well-deserved. What an artist!

Plus, he is just one of the nicest, most generous artists we’ve ever had on our stage, qualities which were revealed even more fully at the amazing masterclass he gave on Monday for students from area high schools, including Colgan, Osbourn Park, Woodbridge, Osbourn, and Manassas Park. Those students will remember this September forever.

• Mike Super, a master of Magic and Illusion, delighted (and mystified) a robust multi-generational audience on September 25th, as the first program in our popular Hylton Family Series. We are committed to making the arts a part of life from childhood on up, and the success of programs like this is evidence that the plan is working!

• And, just over the October horizon on the 1st, Amazon Web Services hosted another edition of their innovative and important program called “AWS Girls’ Tech Day,” with which the Hylton Center has been proud to partner since its inception in 2018. The entire building came alive with the energy of invention, discovery, and the fusion of creativity with technology that we sometimes like to call STEAM. Panels, workshops, résumé clinics, even some CSI Crime Scene simulations – it was a glorious example of the educational part of our mission in action.

Now that’s a pretty spectacular three weeks, and as I indicated above, there were several other terrific performances and events besides. The momentum going into this season is already strong and the pleasure of gathering in communities of shared experience is front and center.

Come join in!

Rick Davis
Dean and Executive Director