Built in 1990, the Center for the Arts on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax hosts a wide range of performances in its concert hall, two theaters, a dance studio and three visual arts galleries.
The Concert Hall seats 1,935 on the main floor and balcony. Because there are no aisles, the rows have been widely spaced to allow room for people to reach their seats from the sides -- also making it possible to cross your legs during a performance. With a huge orchestra pit, wide rows and the balcony set back considerably from the stage, the space is in no way intimate but the acoustics are sharp and clean. It is home to the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, the Fairfax Chorale and serves as the Northern Virginia venue for the Virginia Opera, which brings many of its productions north from Richmond and Norfolk.
TheaterSpace, the 140-seat black-box home of the Theater of the First Amendment, is in the adjoining building; the Harris Theatre, a 500-seat proscenium house, is just across one of the campus squares. The Harris is used mostly as recital space, although as the university's Division of Art and Visual Technology becomes more and more active, this is the hall that lends itself to multimedia theatrical efforts. The center also has three visual arts galleries and a tiny dance performance studio that accommodates 50 for recitals.
The center sponsors a number of performance series that bring in visiting orchestras, dance troupes, jazz musicians, chamber groups and soloists.
-- Brad Hathaway