George Mason University Center for the Arts Announces its 2019-2020 Season

Audra McDonald will kick off the season with a one-night-only performance.

The Center for the Arts at George Mason University has announced the 2019/2020 season of Great Performances at Mason, its annual series featuring leading national and international artists in the disciplines of classical music, opera, jazz, ballet, modern dance, theater, and global music and dance. The Center also announced the return of the Family Series, offering its second season of affordable programming for young audiences.

Audra McDonald. Photo by Michael Wilson.

“For nearly 30 years the Center for the Arts has been offering the best of the performing arts in Northern Virginia, a tradition I am thrilled to be able to support and uphold moving forward,” shared Programming Manager Adrienne Bryant Godwin. “Our season helps fulfill our mission to make the arts an intrinsic part of the lives of our community members. I have worked collaboratively with my predecessor, Thomas Reynolds, to put together a program that features artistic virtuosos and visionaries from across the globe. The season features masters performing the classics you know and love, as well as innovative new works, including our first commissioned project by the Center in more than 20 years. I look forward to sharing in these exciting artistic experiences with audiences throughout the season.”

In addition to the Great Performances at Mason series, Bryant Godwin announced the launch of the Mason Artists-in-Residence program. The inaugural cohort of artists includes LADAMA, a quartet of female powerhouse Latin American musicians; Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, one of the most innovative and influential modern dance companies today; and composer, conductor and 2019 NEA Jazz Master Maria Schneider. These visionary artists will spend time in our community, interacting with our audiences both on and off campus through activities designed to broaden the reach and deepen the impact of the Center’s artistic programming.

The Great Performances at Mason season kicks off with a concert by acclaimed Broadway legend and Tony, Grammy, and Emmy Award winner Audra McDonald in her Center for the Arts debut, as part of the ARTS by George! Benefit. During this one-night-only event, McDonald will perform her trademark mix of hits from Broadway and the Great American Songbook.

The Center’s diverse lineup of classical artists kicks off with The Four Italian Tenors in Viva Italia!, showcasing a new generation of world-class tenors performing some of Italy’s most beloved classics and arias. The fall continues with a presentation of The Four Seasons by the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, led by music director and violin virtuoso Daniel Hope—performing Vivaldi’s original composition followed by a re-imagined one written specifically for Hope by neo-classical composer Max Richter

In the new year, the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine celebrates their Jubilee 100th concert season with a concert featuring cellist Natalia Khoma. The following weekend, NPR’s From the Top records a LIVE broadcast from the Center featuring some of America’s best pre-collegiate, classically trained musicians, with guest hosts and piano duo Anderson and Roe. In March, the vocal ensemble The King’s Singers will fill the Center with Love Songs—a program of romantic music spanning 500 years, and multiple Grammy Award-winning conductor José Serebrier leads the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra featuring British teenage prodigy Alma Deutscher, performing her own violin concerto.

The Center’s dance lovers will be treated to innovative works throughout the season beginning with Montreal-based RUBBERBANDance Group and their genre-bending fresh style melding hip-hop traditions with ballet technique, resulting in Victor Quijada’s signature technique, dubbed the RUBBERBAND Method. In January, Alonzo King LINES Ballet presents Figures of Speech, a daring evening-length work drawing inspiration from poet and activist Bob Holman’s research from the Endangered Language Alliance, set to an original soundscape designed by Alexander MacSween. The following month, Mason Artist-in-Residence Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company will present the world premiere of On the Water, an examination of group identity and its relationship to aloneness. On the Water is a co-commission by the Center for the Arts. In March, the Russian National Ballet returns to the Center for a weekend filled with iconic ballet pieces featuring a double bill of Romeo and Juliet and Carmen one evening, followed by Cinderella the next day.

Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company performed 'Analogy Trilogy' at the Kennedy Center March 28-30. Photo courtesy of The Kennedy Center.
Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company. Photo courtesy of The Kennedy Center.

The season is rich with music and talent from across the globe. In October, audiences will celebrate Hispanic Heritage month with the vibrant “Latin Alternative” quartet LADAMA. Mason Artists-in-Residence Lara Klaus, Daniela Serna, Mafer Bandola and Sara Lucas are musical trailblazers hailing from Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, and the U.S. pioneering a new dynamic sound. Later that month, the elite circus artists and acrobats of Cirque Mei return to the Center with their amazing feats of agility, strength, and poise. In November, Taj Express: The Bollywood Musical Revue dazzles audiences once again with this colorful celebration of all things BollywoodIn March, the Center welcomes Ballet Folclórico Nacional de México de Silvia Lozano in a showcase of Mexico’s rich cultural gifts of dance, music, folklore, and costumes as well as the Grammy® Award-winning Irish legends The Chieftains for a thrilling St. Patrick’s Day celebration as part of their Irish Goodbye Tour.

The Center’s 29th season welcomes the return of Aquila Theatre and L.A. Theatre Works with two powerful works of drama. L.A. Theatre Works—in collaboration with D.C.-based non-profit Vital Voices—presents SEVEN, which features the true stories of seven women from around the globe, who bravely fought for real and lasting change in their communities. SEVEN was written by playwrights Paula Cizmar, Catherine Filloux, Gail Kriegel, Carol K. Mack, Ruth Margraff, Anna Deavere Smith, and Susan Yankowitz. Aquila Theatre brings one of the great novels of the 20th century to the Center with George Orwell’s dystopian 1984.

In April, the Center welcomes Northern Virginia’s own pops and jazz ensembles beginning with the American Festival Pops Orchestra playing a tribute to The Great White Way in an evening of iconic hits and show tunes and reuniting Maestro Anthony Maiello with Lisa Vroman, a Broadway veteran and “musical and theatrical marvel” (The San Francisco Chronicle). The following weekend, Grammy® Award-winning composer and conductor Maria Schneider leads the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra in a night of cool, expressive jazz. Schneider is a 2019 NEA Jazz Master, and a member of the inaugural Mason Artist-in-Residence program.

Virginia Opera offers three productions as part of Great Performances at Mason, featuring Tosca, one of Giacomo Puccini’s most acclaimed and performed works; contemporary composer Daniel Catán’s tragic-comedic Il Postino (The Postman), based in part on the 1994 Oscar-winning film; and one of Gioachino Rossini’s most beloved comedic operas Cinderella (La Cenerentola).

The ultimate performer-commentator Jeffrey Siegel returns for his 27th season of Keyboard Conversations at the Center, in which he performs and shares stories for those who love classical music and those who want to. First Siegel dives into Humor and Heartache—Music of Mozart and Haydn exploring the range of emotions depicted by these great composers; followed by Mistresses and Masterpieces—revealing stories behind great romantic pieces by Chopin, Liszt, Schumann, Mendelssohn, and Bartok; next in Commemorating Rachmaninoff and Debussy, audiences will hear some of the most famous works by these two popular composers; and to close out the season, Siegel presents Close Encounters of a Musical Kind, bringing to life the music of the “three great Bs:” Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms.

The Holiday season at the Center welcomes the return of audience favorites, A Chanticleer Christmas, the American Festival Pops Orchestra in Holiday Pops: Songs of the Season, and the angelic, youthful voices of the Vienna Boys Choir. This season, the Center is proud to include D.C.-based African-American a capella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock performing holiday songs from across the country and around the world in Celebrating the Holydays.

In its second season, the Family Series at the Center offers great family entertainment at very affordable prices, making introducing the arts to young audiences accessible and fun. The season includes Enchantment Theatre Company’s Peter Rabbit TalesThe Very Hungry Caterpillar Christmas featuring Eric Carle’s “Dream Snow,” Hot Peas ‘N Butter, and The Magic of Bill Blagg Live.

Performances take place in the Center for the Arts’ Concert Hall located at 4373 Mason Pond Drive in Fairfax, Virginia. Season subscriptions are on sale to Friends of the Center for the Arts at online or by phone at (703) 993-2787. Subscriptions go on sale to the general public on Wednesday, April 17 and tickets for individual events go on sale Thursday, August 1 at the Center for the Arts’ Ticket Office (open Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and two hours prior to performances), by phone at (703) 993-2787, or through the Center for the Arts’ website.