College of Visual and Performing Arts
George Mason University
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George Mason University

A Note from Rick Davis

October 6, 2020

Rick Davis

Lunga pausa

When a musician comes upon the phrase lunga pausa in a score, they know to take a long pause. Everything that has come before is still ringing in our mind’s ear, the vibrations of the last few notes lingering in the hall but slowly diminishing to silence. There is a feeling of suspension, of expectation, of “what comes next?” The feeling is intensified by the extended stillness of the lunga pausa.

A few years ago in this space I mused on the value of another musical moment, the fermata, the bird’s-eye shaped instruction to “hold” that composers use, sometimes over a rest (perhaps turning it into a lunga pausa), sometimes over a singer’s high note or a particularly rich and resonant chord in the orchestra, to give the performers permission to stop and savor the moment before moving back into the onrushing tempo of the piece (or the grand finale).  That bit of writing was inspired by a particularly deep and beautiful winter snowfall that shut our world down for a few days, and I was expressing my gratitude for the enforced quiet, the chance to reflect and recharge.

Our current lunga pausa is surely different in origin, duration, and character. And it challenges us in many new ways (though hoarding toilet paper seems to be a connecting thread). But there are some virtues, too, in this pause that I want to celebrate.

One thing being apart has proven to us is the core strength of our mission/motto/mantra, the arts create community. It has never been more important to have in our lives some tangible evidence of humanity’s gifts of song and story, of purposeful patterns and bright unexpected flashes of insight.  That’s what has kept us coming back to theaters and concert halls and galleries for centuries – that reminder what we are capable of as a species.

Though for a while now we’ve had to transmit those songs and stories over the ether, the purpose is the same. When the work is good, I think we are reminded of those times of joyful togetherness.  And we long, like a singer or player coming to the end of a lunga pausa, to get the music going again. 

“What comes next?”  Stay tuned. 

And now for a word [about one of] our sponsors

Another thing I like to do here from time to time is call out some of the folks who make our work possible – especially because philanthropic support has never been more important than it is today during this pause. Today I’m happy to highlight a longtime friend of the Hylton Center, United Bank, which has been a supporter of ours since 2012, and has generously contributed over $70,000 to our work. They were an initial (and continuing) sponsor of the very popular American Roots Series, helping give us the confidence to launch what has become one of the Hylton’s signature programs.  In addition, we are lucky to count Amy Tanner, Senior Vice President and Regional Sales Manager, as an energetic member of the Hylton Center Executive Board.  At the top of the pyramid, United Bank’s CEO, James J. Consagra, serves on the George Mason University Foundation Board of Trustees. 

We are so grateful for our long and successful partnership with this great institution – this kind of civic vision is what makes communities great.  And it’s support like this that will enable us to get the music going again.

-- Rick Davis, Dean and Executive Director

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